“Sleep Dentistry” Takes The Anxiety Out Of Dental Care

posted: February 25, 2019

If you find yourself “jittery” in the dental chair or have ever had a “white-knuckled” grip during appointments, don’t feel you are in the minority. Unfortunately, an estimated 70 percent of American adults have some level of anxiety or fear when it comes to going to a dentist. 

Even worse, about a third of these adults have such deep levels of fear that they’re classified as ‘dental phobics.’ These are people who find it difficult to even call a dental office. Some have avoided dental care for decades.

Some people are unable to pinpoint where such fears originated. However, the majority of these fears are the result of traumatic dental experiences in the past (often as children).

Those with severe levels of dental fear often avoid dental care until they have an emergency need. Typically, the discomfort becomes so intense that it forces them into a dental chair for treatment. What I often see, at this point, are problems that could have easily been avoided had they been able to receive regular check-ups and cleanings.

Regardless of an individual’s level of fear, we know it’s vital that every patient feels a sense of trust that we won’t subject them to pain. We commonly start with a conversation in our consultation room. This room is away from the clinical side of the office so you won’t hear sounds or see a treatment chair.

During this time, we are seated in comfy armchairs in a private setting. We discuss your oral needs and goals, particular concerns (including dental fears) and what you want to accomplish when your oral health has been restored. For fearful patients, however, our first goal is to assure each one that comfort is a priority at all times in our office.

I explain the various options we use for enhanced comfort. Since many people are uneasy about dental visits before they walk into a dental office, I may recommend oral sedation. In pill form, oral sedation is highly-effective and safe.

Before the patient is seated in a treatment suite, the medication has taken effect. Patients relax as they ease into a state where many doze in and out. I administer numbing medication to the areas being treated so there are no worries about discomfort. Sedated patients are also monitored by a trained staff member along with advanced monitoring equipment to ensure safety and comfort.

An advantage of oral sedation is its ability to erase most or all memory of treatment afterwards. Fearful patients like knowing this. Occasionally, a patient may share later on that they recall hearing the sound of my voice during treatment, but most have no memory of their time while in the treatment chair.

Patients also like that oral sedation has a quick recovery time. After a brief nap at home, most patients feel refreshed and back to normal within hours. Although I am certified to provide I.V. sedation, also referred to as “twilight sleep,” it does require a longer recovery time (even though it’s within 24-hours) and is a bit more costly than oral sedation.

Oral sedation is a practical way for fearful adults to have dental care while being totally relaxed before and throughout treatment. In addition to achieving the healthy, confident smile you desire, a healthy mouth plays an important role in your overall health. Research has shown that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through weakened tears in inflamed gum tissues. This bacteria has been linked to heart disease, memory loss, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.

We are always pleased to watch once-fearful patients overcome their fear altogether. Often, after one or two visits with oral sedation, patients feel they no longer need sedating. If fear prevents you from a healthy, attractive smile, begin with a friendly phone call at 843-871-6351 or tap here to request a no-charge consultation.

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Afraid Of The Dentist? We Can Help.

posted: January 01, 2019

Over the years, our Summerville dental office has developed a reputation for successfully helping adults who struggle with dental fears.

We understand that, for many fearful patients, it takes a great deal of effort to just come in for a consultation. Once here, however, they see that our office is structured to attend to their unique needs.

Our goal is to give all patients an environment where they can achieve a healthy, confident smile. For those who have avoided dentistry, we feel this enables many to have much-needed treatment BEFORE they are ‘forced’ into a dental office because of severe pain.

When regular dental care is avoided, it increases the risk for losing natural teeth and/or developing gum disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease that is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Gum disease is also associated with serious health problems. The bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammatory reactions far beyond the mouth. It has been linked to higher risks for heart disease, stroke, preterm babies, arthritis, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction (ED).

Some patients prefer to begin their care with the addition of Oral Sedation. This is in pill form and allows the patient to be fully relaxed throughout their care, even “dozing” in and out.

For those who prefer a deeper level of sedative, I am certified to administer I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep). Both forms of sedation erase most or all memory of treatment afterwards and have a practical recovery time.

Rest assured – patients who are sedated are closely monitored throughout treatment with advanced safety equipment and specially-trained staff members.

No matter what your fear level, you CAN experience gentle dentistry where you’ll feel relaxed before, during and after your visit. And, like many of our once-fearful patients, you can enjoy a healthy, confident smile without having a white-knuckled experience!

Dental fear affects over 70 percent of Americans, but it can be overcome. We have hundreds of formerly fearful patients who now have confident, healthy smiles. They know that dentistry can be performed without discomfort and enable them to achieve excellent oral health. You, too, can achieve this regardless of your level of fear.

We’ll begin with a friendly conversation in our private consultation room. This room is removed from the clinical side of the office. During this time, you can share your concerns and learn about options that can help you move at a pace that’s right for you. Call 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule a convenient time for this no-cost consultation.

In the right hands, you can have the healthy, confident smile you desire!

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Grinding Or Clenching Teeth Can Lead To Costly Repairs, And More.

posted: September 18, 2018

Sometimes, things can occur without being obvious for quite some time. For example, seeing a tire that has abnormally worn down on one side is an indication that it has been out of alignment for an extended amount of time. Or, losing a button means that the threads gave way a while back and gradually became looser and looser.

As a dentist, I occasionally examine a new patient and see signs of worn teeth. Sometimes, the individual has fractures or chips on teeth as well. These are typically indications of clenching or grinding teeth, which often occurs during sleep. It’s rather common, however, that the patient has no idea this has been taking place.

Worn teeth from grinding

Like a tire that’s just slightly out of alignment, minor disparities aren’t always noticeable. Eventually, however, the wear and tear does become obvious. Although it may take years for the signs to clearly emerge, like anything, the sooner you resolve the problem, the better.

Clenching and grinding of teeth is known as bruxing in the dental profession. This action often takes place while the individual is asleep, so they are unaware they are doing it. However, upon awakening, the person may notice jaw joint pain, headaches, difficulty opening the mouth fully, ear ringing, or dizziness.

What causes this?

The most common cause is bite misalignment. When the upper teeth do not meet harmoniously with the lower teeth, it can transfer stress or strain to the jaw joints.

These joints, which lie just in front of the ears, are the joints that hinge the lower jaw to the skull. Known as the temporo-mandibular joints (or ‘TMJ’), these joints are in nearly-constant motion. Every time you speak, eat, laugh, yawn, and even swallow, these joints move. If they do not move fluidly and in unity, they can become inflamed.

Like many parts of our bodies, the jaw joints strive for self-repair. The skin heals itself, the immune system fights infection, and broken bones reconnect. When an imbalance in the joints effects efficiency and comfort, they seek to find a more comfortable position when they have the least interference — during sleep.

During sleep, the jaws attempt to shift and ‘force’ themselves to find a place of harmony. This prompts the action of clenching teeth together or grinding them back and forth.

Although the alignment of teeth may seem unrelated to the balanced movement of the jaw joints, the results of disharmony can be pretty severe – and costly. Broken, fractured or chipped teeth can require crowns or even replacement of teeth. Worn teeth typically need crowning or repair of cavities that has occurred when the protective enamel of teeth has been worn down.

cerec machine

Single visit crowns, bridges and dental implant restorations

For our patients who need these repairs, they have the advanced technology of our CEREC 3D computerized process. This creates crowns and other ceramic restorations (crowns, bridges, implant teeth) in a single visit, saving the patient time and often reducing numbing requirements by half.

Once we verify that your bite is truly out of alignment (and the cause of bruxing), correcting it may be as simple as reshaping selected teeth. Some crowns may be needed and an oral appliance may also be advised. These appliances are custom-made to comfortably fit the unique contours of each mouth and do not interfere with sleep.

When bite misalignment is more severe, we may recommend orthodontic treatment. Although some adults cringe at the need to wear braces, ‘invisible’ options are available that can make treatment more comfortable and seem less awkward than the wires and brackets of traditional orthodontics.

Like a worn tire, the problems of misalignment will only worsen without repair. Let’s restore your bite to a harmonious position so you can avoid the discomfort, costs, and treatment time associated with TMJ disorders. Begin with a free consultation by calling 843-871-6351 or tap here to begin.

 

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Here, Technology Enhances Comfort, Saves You Time, Optimizes Treatment Outcome

posted: July 17, 2018

Let’s say you’re nearing the time when an ’empty nest’ in on the horizon. In anticipation of having extra space, you may have some ideas as to how free space could be reconfigured. A workout room? A media room? An office for a new in-home business?

Although designers and contractors could come in with a sketch pad and pencil, wouldn’t you be more assured with a visual proposal that gave a firsthand view of where, what, and how?

Today’s technology is designed to eliminate guesswork and provide the means to achieve goals without unexpected glitches.

This is true for dentistry as well. Advanced computerized technology has given dentists the tools to diagnose, treatment plan, and perform procedures with precision based on each individual’s needs and goals.

Dental offices can vary significantly when it comes to advanced technology. Not only does this equipment require a monetary commitment, most require intense training of the dentist and staff members in order to utilize each piece properly. While some of these advancements can seem rather intimidating, I’ve found that they can be of such benefit to our patients that the learning process becomes exciting.

Case in point – when I first invested in CEREC 3D technology, I took a couple of courses but avoided using it for months. When I decided to truly master it, I became so enthralled at the results that I pursued every advanced course I could take. Now, I am a proud Mentor for CEREC 3D, providing training assistance to other dentists who make this positive leap into the future of dentistry.

While my goal has always been to provide options that enhance patient comfort, save them time, and create optimal outcomes, it has also been important to select technology that is ‘green.’ At Smiles By Andrews, we have incorporated features that are environmentally-friendly, which minimize the use of chemicals, save water, and reduce waste.

What’s in this for you, the patient? Read on to learn about the many advanced features available to you in our Summerville dental office:

• Imaging With 3D Cone Beam Technology – This 3D imaging gives a clear view of the mandible and maxilla (upper and lower jaw) for intricate assessment for diagnosis and treatment planning. The process is fast and comfortable with patients exposed to minimal levels of radiation. This is used for patients in need of root canals, periodontics, orthodontics, dental implants, TMJ therapy, and crowns (caps) or bridges as well as surgical procedures. Cone beam imaging (3D X-rays) also provides images that pinpoint the mandibular nerve canal for pre-surgical planning for ideal implant positioning.

Dental Implants As Easy As 1 – 2 – 3 In One Dental Office! We have incorporated this technology so your entire implant treatment can be performed in one comfortable location in minimum appointments with exceptional outcomes!

  1. CEREC Omnicam uses a small camera to scan inside the mouth, capturing full color 3D digital images. These images are sent to computer software that is used to create crowns, bridges, partial and teeth for implant attachment, in minutes.
  2. For Dental Implant placement, CEREC 3D computer software creates a surgical guide that pinpoints precise locations, depths, and angles for each implant. This enhances implant success and eliminates the need for ‘flaps’ to be cut in gum tissue. These guides enable me to gently penetrate gum tissue at each implant location. By minimizing disruption to gum tissue, patients enjoy enhanced comfort with rapid healing.
  3. For the teeth attached to the Implants, our technology creates your final teeth with advanced technology, saving you time and ensuring a precision fit and ideal shade match.

• Single Appointment Crowns & Inlays – CEREC 3D creates beautiful, durable ceramic restorations (crowns, bridges, partials, implant teeth) using the latest in computerization, ready for placement in a single visit. No temporaries needed! No second appointment needed! No second numbing needed!. CEREC 3D also reduces numbing requirements by half.

• Laser Therapy – This technology is used for oral tissue treatment that causes no bleeding and reduces numbing requirements for precision gum contouring, bacteria removal, uncovering implants, repair of oral ulcers and other tissue related procedures.

• Digital X-Rays – Our digital radiology system reduces exposure to radiation by up to 90%, giving enlarged on-screen images instantly. Magnification aids in early diagnosis, which reduces treatment time and costs, and is more comfortable than traditional “bite wings”.

• Oral Cancer Detection – The VELscope System is a hand-held device that aids in early detection of oral cancer. The exam is non-invasive, painless, and takes only minutes. The process gives us a better visual of abnormal tissue that may be, or may lead to, oral cancer.

• IntraOral Imaging – This provides enlarged views of specific areas inside the mouth, giving patients greater understanding of problem areas and more involvement in treatment decisions.

• Computerized Charting – This advanced feature measures and stores your oral status while predicting vulnerable areas. Your oral health is recorded and stored at each visit, providing easy retrieval for future comparisons.

• Advanced Sterilization system – Using a process that meets or exceeds the guidelines set forth by OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), all instruments used in patient care are heat sterilized by advanced equipment and trained staff.

We are proud of the environment we offer to our patients. Experience the benefits of these features yourself! We are always happy to welcome new patients to our office and even offer a free consult for those who wish to ‘check us out’ before committing to an appointment. Just call our friendly staff at 843-871-6351 or tap here to schedule.outside and inside office photo

While we are pleased to offer this technology, what our patients notice most is the respectful, friendly, compassionate environment we provide. Regardless of your need, we are committed to exceptional care with an emphasis on comfort.

I hope to meet you soon!

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How To Spend Less On Dentistry

posted: May 31, 2018

Every time I go to have my oil changed or tires rotated, I know the time and money required is to prevent problems or extend the life of my investment as much as possible. It makes handing over my credit card a little easier since I’m willingly taking steps to avoid larger expenses that could have been prevented.

This is why your 6-month dental check-ups and cleanings are so important. By removing built-up tartar, you can avoid the time and expense for cavity repair and gum disease treatment. However, these visits can help you avoid much greater expenses, some you may not realize.

For example, during these appointments, we check your bite alignment. Why is this important?

Every tooth in your mouth is designed to interact with neighboring teeth. For instance, an upper front tooth is bordered by teeth on each side as well as one below it. The teeth on each side help to keep adjacent teeth in their proper positions. The one below it – the one it ‘meets’ – helps to keep it at a proper length. Without the tooth below, the upper tooth would elongate. Without the teeth on each side, the tooth would turn or tilt.

It doesn’t take much to create a domino effect when it comes to the balanced alignment of how the upper teeth meet lower teeth. When just one tooth moves out of position, the others can bear the brunt of misalignment or malocclusion.

While a tooth that has become crooked may seem to create like a minimal flaw in your smile’s appearance, the problem can go much deeper than esthetics. For example, bite misalignment can lead to teeth that break, chip, or crack. It is also what leads to TMJ (jaw joint) disorder.

TMJ disorder can result in frequent headaches; migraines, ear ringing; dizziness; night-time clenching and grinding; jaw popping, and sore facial and neck muscles. Because some of these symptoms are seemingly unrelated to bite alignment, many people spend years seeking relief, going from doctor to doctor, trying different medications, and undergoing procedures – all coming up short of actually resolving the true source of the problem.

Another check we perform during your dental hygiene visits is to look at the condition of your gums.

Periodontal (gum) disease can begin without obvious symptoms, symptoms that YOU may not notice. However, we are trained to catch early warning signs such as gums that are pulling away from their tight seal around teeth. Gums that bleed easily during ‘probing’ are also signs we note.

Yet, when it comes to your gum tissues, which cover the entire oral cavity, there ae additional problems that we can address during your oral hygiene visit. One, in particular, is to examine any lumps or bumps that can indicate oral cancer.

During your exam, you may notice us feeling around inside your mouth. We look under your tongue and on the inside of your cheeks. What we’re looking for are unusual areas that can be early signs of oral cancer.

Oral cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancers due to its dreadful survival rate. If caught early, treatment requirements may be minimal. During this exam, we check for discolored spots, lumps, and growths that may indicate the need for a biopsy.

Other problems that your gum tissues can reveal are oral fungal infections, such as thrush. This can be an uncomfortable condition that is contagious. Even pregnant females can pass this on to their unborn babies. We can also note the emergence of things like canker sores and recommend ways to minimize their discomfort and duration.

If signs of a cavity exist, we can address the problem before it becomes a bigger problem! Filling a small cavity is a much simpler procedure than having to crown a tooth that has a large cavity. And, it is less of an expense.

We can also help in the prevention of tooth loss by checking teeth that are showing signs of break down. When a tooth is cracked, fractured, or overloaded with fillings, the potential for losing the tooth increases.

Tooth removal is necessary when a tooth breaks off below the gum line. To save the tooth, we can advise an inlay or a crown (cap) to help prevent the need to remove it (resulting in time and expense to replace it).

One of the most effective ways we can support patients during their cleanings and exams is to provide easy-to-follow recommendations and instructions for their at-home care. For example, if we note that a patient is being less-than-thorough with certain back teeth, our hygienists can discuss holding the toothbrush at a different angle. Or, the hygienist may advise using an oral rinse to replenish moisture if ‘dry mouth‘ seems to be a challenge.

So you see, these 6-month check-ups are important ways to have a healthy mouth and enjoy a bright smile between visits! They can help you save time and money by helping you avoid problems, or minimize those that do occur.

If you’re behind on your regular dental cleanings and exams, call 843-871-6351 to schedule. New patients are always welcome. And, remember – patient comfort is a high priority at every visit!

You may wish to begin with a free consultation. During this time, we can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss easy payment plans, some with no down payment required and interest-free.

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Do You See Dental Care As A ‘Pain?’

posted: May 24, 2018

When I go to the eye doctor for my annual eye exam, it’s usually one of my least favorite items to check off my healthcare to-do list. Having my pupils dilated, that puff of air shot at my eye ball, and sitting still while a bright light blares into each eye is no fun. However, I see my vision as not only a vital part of living a full and active life. As a dentist, having good vision is vital.

Having an annual eye exam is an appointment most people want ‘over and done with’ quickly. But, like many medical screenings and checkups, we know it’s wise to take the time. Dental checkups, although not something most people look forward to, are also important to your health and well-being. Plus, these twice-a-year dental visits are structured to help you avoid or minimize time and expenses for treatment that can occur without regular care.

Fortunately, these visits typically require only an hour or so of your time. In our office, we try to minimize wait time and use advanced skills and technology to create more efficiency while optimizing comfort. This certainly makes dental visits more appealing for all patients. Yet, for people who do struggle with dental fear, these visits require far more of them than just setting aside the time needed for each visit.

I have decades of experience helping patients who have anxiety or fear (and even dental phobia) to be able to relax through dental treatment. Some have been able to overcome their fears altogether. While I don’t claim to convert them into dental appointment ‘fans,’ I will say that a large percentage go from a sense of dread and ‘white knuckled’ tension to walking in with a smile and leaving with a smile, having completed their appointment without dealing with the grip of fear.

In our nation, periodontal (gum) disease effects over 47 percent of adults – a staggering statistic when you consider how easy it is to prevent. Gum disease occurs from the over-accumulation of oral bacteria that cause inflammation. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, oral health is not the only thing compromised because of gum disease.

These potent bacterial organisms can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body. Research has shown they can cause reactions that have been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, some cancers, erectile dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease. As more research is conducted, new findings keep connecting oral bacteria to more and more health problems, some that are deadly.

With that said, our nation sadly has far more people who are nervous or afraid of dental visits than not. It is estimated that over 70 percent of adult have some level of dental anxiety or fear. Because this fear prevents some people from being able to receive regular dental care (often delaying treatment until pain forces them), it’s to no surprise that so many suffer with gum disease. As mentioned prior, it’s nearly half of our adult population.

Although we offer both oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep), all patients (in our office) enjoy the benefits of a number of comfort options. In addition to a gentle touch, we’ve invested in a wide variety of advanced technology that reduces treatment time and enhances comfort. (Even our drills are designed to eliminate that dreadful, high-pitched whine, with a gentle humming sound instead).

We also pace each patient’s care to match individual needs. Some people are happy to move through treatment in one or two appointments while others wish to proceed in small steps. We are also careful to communicate what is being done in their mouths, and why. This is reassuring to patients, especially those with fear issues. They may ‘perceive’ pain when there is unknown action taking place that they can’t see.

We encourage anyone who has dental fear or anxiety issues to begin with a private conversation at no charge. This consultation is just a chat. I take the time to learn the unique concerns of each individual and make recommendations based upon those concerns. From there, we can determine the most comfortable way to proceed. Or, they may choose to do nothing for the time being. The choice is in the hands of the patient. We are not here to nudge someone into treatment, but rather to support them when they are ready.

If you would like to schedule a private, no cost consultation, call 843-871-6351. From the very first conversation on the telephone, I’m certain you’ll understand why so many once-fearful people have chosen us to help them achieve healthy, confident smiles.

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Cost Of Dental Implants Is Actually A Bargain.

posted: May 09, 2018

For many reasons, dental implants have become the preferred tooth replacement option among today’s adults. They are the closest thing to natural teeth, even mimicking the stimulation needed to the jaw bone to halt the process of bone loss (known as resorption).

Yet, some people forgo this ‘preferred’ method for replacing teeth, most often due to cost. And, to make matters worse, some dental insurances do not provide coverage for dental implants, deeming them as ‘elective.’

Is it elective to be able to bite and chew foods that comprise a healthy diet? Is it elective to feel confident on the job or in social settings? Is it elective to have a smile that is as close to ‘worry-free’ as a smile can be?

Although we are doubtful that insurance companies will adjust their stance anytime soon, we would like to state that dental implants are not the costly treatment they are often perceived to be. In fact, when you look at the overall treatment expense and compare them to other tooth replacement options, you’ll see that dental implants are the wisest investment you can make. Here’s why:

One of the greatest benefits of dental implants is their longevity. Once dental implants are placed and the final teeth attached, your investment (with proper maintenance) should last your lifetime. Their longevity can be credited, primarily, to their construction.

Dental implants are made from the strongest metal known to man – titanium. This material, developed by NASA, was found to be highly compatible with living bone. This means that the body won’t reject it. Even better, the bone where titanium is placed will actually grow around it. This secures the implant in your jaw bone, giving it the same, dependable foundation as natural teeth once had.

Another marker of dental implant value is the ‘one-&-done’ factor. Teeth that are attached to implants do not experience cavities, will never need a root canal, and won’t create problems for neighboring teeth.

Dental implants may seem to be a more costly than crown-&-bridge combinations. However, unlike crown & bridge, dental implants do not reply on neighboring teeth to support replacement teeth. Dental implants use the same, sturdy foundation — the jaw bone — that natural teeth have.

And, because the crown-&-bridges process requires the crowning of neighboring teeth on each side, future costs can include root canals, crown repair, bridge replacement, etc.

As mentioned prior, the process of bone loss due to missing tooth roots can create a number of problems. Resorption impacts the health of existing teeth and weakens the strength of the jaw bone.

As bone loss continues, it can lead to changes in facial appearance that are aging far beyond one’s actual years. These include deep wrinkles around the mouth, jowls that form when facial muscles detach from the shrinking jaw bone, a pointed chin, and a mouth that appears collapsed into the face.

Dental implants halt this process of bone loss.

When you also factor in the quality of your result, including how long dental implants last and how well they’ll hold up over time, they are a true bargain. The cost, over the long term, provides your hard-earned dollars with the best outcome for long-term savings. Plus, the ability to eat the foods you love and laugh without worry is priceless.

If you are considering dental implants or any tooth replacement option, call 843-871-6351 to schedule a no cost, no obligation consultation. During this time, I’ll explain options best for you and answer your questions so you can determine how you wish to proceed.

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Could Headaches Or Migraines Be Coming From Misaligned Bite?

posted: April 26, 2018

A friend once shared that, after enduring years of back aches and pain, an orthopedist determined that the cause was one leg being shorter than the other. It wasn’t obvious to her but the slight disparity had led her on a long, frustrating journey of doctors’ visits, medications, diagnostic tests, and out-and-out guesswork.

The body is a miraculous structure. Yet, it relies on a delicate balance in order to operate as intended. Just as the balanced length of our legs affects the smooth flow of our posture, gait, and stance, so does the balance of how your teeth fit together. A slight disparity here, too, can cause problems that radiate far beyond the mouth.

When the upper teeth do not properly align with the lower teeth, it’s not always obvious – initially. Problems tend to occur at a gradual pace. For example, teeth that slowly become crowded and crooked may eventually fail to meet harmoniously while chewing. This can lead to a number of problems, including chipped, worn, broken, or fractured teeth. And, the condition can contribute to seemingly unrelated problems.

Misaligned teeth can cause the TMJ, or jaw joints, to be strained. These joints, located in front of each ear, are what hinges the lower jaw to the skull. When these joints move together fluidly, they function without stress or strain when speaking, laughing, and eating.

However, when the bite is not properly aligned, it can lead to issues that disrupt the balance that is needed for ease of function. These problems are known as TMJ disorder, which can lead to:

• Headaches
• Migraines
• Clenching and/or grinding teeth during sleep
• Aching jaw joints
• Dizziness
• Ear ringing
• Jaw popping
• Sore facial, shoulder or neck muscles
• Difficulty opening the mouth fully

Misaligned teeth also create a higher risk for cavities and gum disease along with breaks that can result in tooth removal. For example, when upper teeth and lower teeth do not meet properly, one may ‘hit’ a neighboring tooth awkwardly, typically while eating. When a tooth breaks below the gum line, a crown can no longer save the tooth and it must be removed. A lost tooth leads to many decisions and costs for replacement.

In cases of mild bite misalignment, treatment requirements may be as simple as the reshaping of selected teeth. Some cases may involve the crowning of certain teeth in order to restore proper balance. Other cases may require orthodontic treatment to fully resolve the problems related to bite alignment.

Misaligned teeth will not improve without correction. At the very least, improperly aligned teeth will increase your potential for developing cavities or gum disease. Over time, however, many of these cases lead to problems that cause the problems mentioned prior, includign migraines, dizziness, or worn or broken teeth.

If you have crowded, crooked teeth or are experiencing problems associated with TMJ disorder, restoring proper bite alignment can give you a healthier foundation for your teeth and gums, help you avoid TMJ-related problems, and may even enhance the appearance of your smile.

Begin by calling 843-871-6351 to schedule a no-charge consultation. I’ll explain ways we will evaluate your bite and determine if your bite alignment is the true source of your symptoms. If so, we can develop a treatment plan to help you overcome the problems in the most conservative way possible.

 

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Dental Care In Summerville – What Makes Us Different

posted: April 15, 2018

“A rose is a rose,” is a common alteration of Shakespeare’s “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Both mean the same, basically, in that one rose is the same as all the others. However, we know that’s not the case. outside and inside office photo

One dental office or one 6-month dental cleaning may be far different in one office than the other. For example, one dental office may make comfort a high priority while another moves patients through care in a rushed pace with little regard to comfort.

In our office, we’ve taken a number of measures to ensure patients understand the difference as well as feel it. We hope that each patient comes to find, with each appointment, that it’s not one thing but a combination of things that make the difference.

Below, we’ve listed a few areas we know affords our patients with an elevated standard of care as well as a noticeably high level of comfort:

• Advanced Technology – We’ve carefully incorporated a number of state-of-the-art features that shorten treatment time, enhance results, and optimize comfort. These include Cone Beam Imaging (for 3-dimensional views of teeth, gums and supporting bone structures), CEREC 3D computerized technology (for one-appointment crowns and implant restorations), ‘Silent’ Drills (that eliminate the high-pitched whine of a drill, replacing it with a gentle whir), and Laser Dentistry (which reduces bleeding and speeds healing).

• Staff Longevity – I am so proud of the longevity of each team member. For decades, many have worked by my side and become “like family” to patients. Newer staff members have immediately sensed the unified team spirit here, feeling fully supported in their commitment to excellent patient care.

• Exceptional Comfort – In addition to oral sedation (a sedative in pill form), I am Certified to provide I.V. sedation (twilight sleep). This provides a deeper level of comfort through ‘sleep dentistry’ and erases most, if not all, memory of treatment afterward. In addition to sedation options, all measures are taken for the highest level of patient comfort possible, starting with a gentle touch and care that is paced to each individual’s specific need.

• Complete Dentistry – In addition to providing all phases of Dental Implants, you’ll find all levels of dental care are covered – for all ages and all needs. Everything from six-month checkups to root canals to tooth replacement to therapy to treat gum disease – our patients appreciate having all services in one, convenient location.

• Skilled, Ethical Care – Our patients know our recommendations are made based on what is in their best interests. By instilling a sense of confidence with each, they have faith in us to provide the best care according to their individual needs and goals. This has created strong bonds that we feel is the foundation of “exceptional dentistry.”

You should feel positive about your dental caregivers, at every visit. If you feel something is missing in your relationship with your dental office, consider scheduling a no-charge consultation appointment. During this time, we’ll discuss how our office may be compatible to your needs and desires, enabling you to achieve a healthy, confidence smile you’ll love to share.

Call 843-871-6351 to schedule. I look forward to meeting you and including you as one of our many happy patients!

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No Need To Fear Dentistry. Here, Dental Care Is Gentle, Comfortable.

posted: March 12, 2018

Dental fear is fairly common – perhaps more common than you realize. It is estimated that 75% of American adults have some level of fear associated with dental visits. Approximately 5 – 10% of these can be categorized as dental phobics. These are who are so fearful they seek dental care only when an emergency need forces them into a dental office or an emergency room.

It’s not unusual for adults with dental fear to avoid regular dental care. Unfortunately, these delays often force fearful patients into treatment for problems that could have been avoided. More-involved treatment can require lengthy time in a dental chair, the very place that fearful patients want to avoid.

When more involved treatment is needed, it tends to reinforce these fears rather than remind of the benefits of regular care that could have prevented these problems from occurring in the first place.

Regular dental check-ups are structured to help patients avoid problems altogether. For the problems that do occur, regular dental checkups help us to catch these problems early so they can be resolved with minimal treatment. Allowing us to help you address your dental fear can save you much in treatment time and expense (not to mention restore your smile to a healthy, confident look and feel!).

We take pride in the many patients we’ve helped to overcome their dental fears here, for good! Many of these patients began their care with the help of Oral Sedation, which creates a fully-relaxed state. This also eliminates most or all memory of treatment afterward.

I am also Certified to administer I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep) for those who desire a deeper level of sedation. Throughout any treatment that includes sedation, you will be monitored by trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.

In addition to a gentle touch, we also feature advanced technology for many procedures. These enhance comfort and reduce treatment time, many decreasing treatment time and numbing requirements by 50 percent. Our patients know us for the comfort level they receive. However, fearful patients also appreciate that we schedule treatment at a pace that is comfortable based on individual preferences.

Don’t wait until an emergency need occurs. Call 843-871-6351 to schedule a free Consultation. We’ll discuss your and options to enhance comfort throughout your visit. Before an emergency need arises, let’s design a customized plan to create a healthy, beautiful smile!

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Being Afraid Of Dental Visits Fairly Common

posted: March 08, 2018

Most of us know someone who enjoys roller coaster rides or scary movies. Quite frankly, I’m not one of them and not afraid to admit it!

Yet, I know that a scary thought to many people is a visit to the dentist. Those who experience fear or anxiety associated with dental visits are plentiful — nearly 75 percent of the adult population by some estimates. And, an estimated 5-10 percent of those can be categorized as ‘dental phobics.’ These people have such intense fears of dentistry that they avoid care until something becomes so painful that they have no choice.

Unfortunately, what prevents fearful patients from having regular dental care is a past, traumatic experience in a dental office, more often than not. When a dentist continues to work on a patient who is not fully numb or indicating discomfort, the damage inflicted can be lifelong.

What the individual is left with is a looming fear of dental care. And, the health of your mouth has been found to be even more vital to overall health than ever.

Recent research has shown that the bacteria of gum disease can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This systemic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction and impotency.

As a dentist who is experienced in caring for fearful patients, I understand that past traumas are difficult to set aside. I know these fears are common and try to reassure these patients that they have nothing to be ashamed of, not in our office anyway.

My entire team is focused on providing gentle care to all patients at every visit. Our desire is to provide a positive experience from the time an individual walks through our front door through the time they check out.

Here, each person is treated with respect, compassion and to the highest standards possible. We’ve also incorporated advanced dental technology and techniques to enhance every aspect of treatment, regardless of the procedure.

For example, we use a ‘silent’ drill. Rather than a high-pitched whine, these make a gentle whir sound. Another example is our CEREC 3D technology. This creates crowns and implant ‘restorations’ (replacement teeth) in one visit. This eliminates the need for the patient to have to return for a separate placement visit and have an additional numbing.

For new patients with dental fears, I often offer oral or I.V. sedation. For many, sedation helps them to relax through their initial visits so, in many cases, they come to relax on their own. Many, after only one or two visits, state they no longer need a sedative.

Oral sedation is a pill that is taken prior to one’s visit. By the time the patient arrives to our office, he or she is in a relaxed state. We seat them immediately in a comfortable treatment chair and administer numbing medications while they are in this relaxed state.

I.V. sedation, for which I am certified, is an ‘in-the-vein’ drip of anesthetic. This creates a deeper ‘sleep state’ for patients with a greater amnesiac effect. However, oral sedation also erases most (if not all) memory of the procedure. It also has a faster recovery time.

Both are safe and patients are monitored throughout treatment with trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.

As a dentist with a track record of helping hundreds of fearful patients achieve healthy, confident smiles, I know sedation options are but a piece of the puzzle to feeling good about dentistry. When it comes to a patient who has no fear of being in pain and enjoys achieving the look and feel of a healthy, beautiful smile, that comes from a relationship of trust.

This is where once-fearful patients find a solution. In knowing they are in the hands of people who care about their comfort, will never rush them, and respect their unique needs and concerns, our patients are able to enjoy smiles they are proud to share!

If fear has kept you from achieving the healthy, appealing smile you have only ‘hoped for,’ call to request a no-charge consultation appointment. This visit occurs in a private consultation room that is removed from the clinical side of our office. During this time, I’ll learn about your concerns, make recommendations, and answer your questions.

We are here for you. We know your smile is important to you. Call 843-871-8351 to schedule.

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Need A Crown (Cap)? CEREC Makes It Fast, Simple, Affordable!

posted: February 08, 2018

Remember when your sister (or you!) used to roll her hair and sit under a hair dryer on Saturday afternoons? The process often required hours for washing, rolling and drying to get ready for ‘date night.’

Of course, today’s females have it much easier. Blow dryers, heated rollers and flat irons have made the process much more efficient and with excellent results.

Times have certainly changed. Today’s technology has simplified the process for many things. We no longer have to stand by a stove, waiting for water to boil when a microwave oven can ‘zap’ it to a boil in a couple of minutes.

Dentistry has also simplified some once-laboring procedures to what is now much more time efficient, more comfortable, and affordable. The 3D computerized technology of CEREC is a highly-advanced method for creating custom-made crowns (caps) in a single visit.

Let’s revisit the ‘old’ method for crowning a tooth. First, the tooth had to be reshaped so the ‘cap’ could fit over it. Then, a mold of the tooth was made so a dental lab could create a ‘final’ crown according to the dentist’s instructions of shape, size and shade.

Because it would take several weeks for the dental lab to make the crown and have it back to the dental office, a ‘temporary’ was placed. This gave the patient a fake tooth that would protect the remaining tooth structure while enabling some ability to eat.

The reason drug stores sell a dental paste that is specially made to replace temporaries is because they can come off fairly easily during this wait time. The adhesive that is used to attach a temporary to a tooth is designed for easily detachment. This lighter adhesive prevents damage to the remaining tooth structure when the temporary is removed.

However, as many individuals find, it doesn’t take much chewing to dislodge a temporary. And, as Murphy’s Law would have it, these instances seem to occur on a weekend more often than not.

But let’s say your temporary holds until the dental lab has the final crown delivered to the dentist’s office. You must return for a second appointment for the placement process and go through another numbing. The final crown is placed, proper shade matching is verified, and your bite is checked.

Although rare, the dental lab may have gotten the shade wrong or failed to follow the dentist’s instructions for crown height, for example. Guess what? Back to the temporary as the process begins again. Another crown, another appointment, another numbing, etc.

CEREC 3D has eliminated much of this process by providing in-office technology the dentist can oversee. In just one visit, your tooth is prepared, a custom crown is created, and securely placed. No wearing a temporary. No second appointment. No second numbing. You walk out with a beautiful, durable crown that has the look, feel and function of a natural tooth!

As a CEREC Mentor, I help other dentists learn the proper utilization of the technology. The latest advancements also enable me to create bridges, partials and dental implant ‘restorations’ (replacement teeth). All of this saves the patient greatly in the time spent in a dental chair — something that is especially appealing for those with busy schedules or who feel anxious at dental visits.

Crowns are needed when a tooth is holding too much ‘filling’ material or has cracks or fractures. Crowning teeth helps to protect the remaining tooth structure and tooth roots that are invaluable to maintaining a healthy jaw bone. Keeping your natural teeth also helps protect the life of neighboring natural teeth.

If a crown has been recommended for you, consider the ease and quick process of CEREC technology. Call 843-871-6351 to learn more or ask for a free consultation appointment.

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Dental Fear Adds To Time & Costs Required For Eventual Treatment

posted: November 14, 2017

In addition to our web site, including regular blog posts, we take the time to communicate with our patients about the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth. Because research has shown links between the oral bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease and a number of serious health conditions, having good oral health has come to light as a necessary part of enjoying good, overall health.

Oral bacteria has been associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, impotency, erectile dysfuntion (ED) and some cancers. As research continues, the list grows longer. With this connection, you’d think people would be clamoring to get into dental offices and make good oral health one of their highest priorities. Yet, only 64% of adults ages 18-64 saw a dentist in the past year. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/dental.htm)

Why is it that so many people shy away from dental visits? While cost may be the blame for a certain percentage, my experience as a dentist who provides both oral and I.V. sedation tells me it often has to do with another issue – dental fear.

It is estimated that over seventy percent of American adults have some level of dental fear or anxiety. Of that number, about eight to twelve percent can be categorized as dental phobics. These are adults who have such intense fear of dental visits that they avoid dentistry until intense pain forces them into an office for treatment.

According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, authors of the book “Behavioral Dentistry” found that nearly half of American adults suffer with moderate levels of dental fear and 5 to 10 percent admit to avoiding dental care altogether as a result. (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/03/dental-fears.aspx)

As a nation with advanced health facilities and health care providers, our adults have an enormously high level of gum disease.

A study titled Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010 estimates that 47.2 percent, or 64.7 million American adults, have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. In adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 percent.

How will we ever be able to address the prevalence of gum disease in the U.S. (and prevent the health conditions associated with it), unless we can get people to feel comfortable at the dentist?

Unlike that of a generation ago, dentistry today is far more sensitive to the comfort levels of patients. Yet, it is the dentist who must be committed to the comfort of his or her patients to a greater extent than merely a provider of comfort options. For example, I feel that pacing a fearful patient’s care in increments that are ‘do-able’ for the individual is equally as important as the sedation options available.

While I’ve offered oral sedation for many years, I became certified in I.V. sedation nearly a decade ago because of the unique needs of a certain number of new patients who had more intense levels of fear. Knowing that ‘twilight sleep’ was available was a more reassuring measure for proceeding into treatment since many were familiar with it through colonoscopies or other outpatient procedures.

Not only do we take patient comfort very seriously, we also take their safety seriously. All patients are closely monitored throughout treatment by trained staff members and advanced safety equipment.

I believe if we can assure fearful patients that their comfort needs can be met, we’d have a nation with healthier gums. By reducing the level of adults with gum disease, we would also be enhancing the overall health and well being of our American population.

If you have dental anxiety, fear or phobia, please know that you CAN have a dental experience that is comfortable. Begin with a no-charge consultation appointment to discuss your needs. You can meet our staff and share your concerns in a private consultation room that is removed from the clinical side of the practice.

For individuals who have fear so intense they are unable to come in for a consult, ask for a phone consultation. I’ll be happy to discuss the options we use and answer your questions. If desired, we can put you in touch with other patients who, like you, once struggled with dental fear and now have healthy, confident smiles!

Call 843-871-6351 to learn more or wish to arrange a consultation.

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Your Comfort Is Always A Priority

posted: September 14, 2017

A dental visit isn’t on the top of most lists when it comes to ‘favorite things to do.’ Dentistry, for some, conjures up thoughts of being uncomfortable, surrounded by sounds of a drill or visions of sharp instruments. Some patients anticipate discomfort so much they actually feel pain without being touched.

I understand that it can make one feel vulnerable to lay back on a narrow treatment chair. Plus, the mouth is a sensitive area and, since the patient can’t see what’s taking place, this gives an anxious patient an even higher feeling of vulnerability. Even for 6-month dental cleanings.

In one study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health, over 100 adults undergoing dental cleanings were assessed on a scale to gauge dental anxiety. In the conclusions was “They were anxious because they expected pain, women being more anxious than men.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21959662)

While women had slightly more anxiety, the levels of anxiety were not significantly different between gender nor age groups.

As a dentist who has dedicated a career to helping patients feel relaxed and comfortable during dental visits, I know that a dental visit can be a pleasant experience. My team and I are proud that the majority of our patients would readily agree.

Yet, we also understand how some can’t help but be anxious when it comes to dental procedures. For people who have dental fear, often as a result of a traumatic dental experience in the past, we strive to build a relationship of trust, which is the foundation of any good dental visit, in my opinion.

While we incorporate many features to make a patient’s visit more comfortable, start to finish, the basis of a good dental visit comes from the patient KNOWING that they are in hands that are gentle and care about them. This is why we carefully select new technology and use new techniques that enhance patient comfort.

For example, our drills are unique in that they don’t make the high-pitched whine that have some patients white-knuckled in the treatment chair. Our drills make a gentle whirr that is much more relaxing. Yet, these devices do a superb job with precision and efficiency.

In addition to ergonomically-designed treatment chairs, headsets with music, and wall-mounted monitors, patients can opt to have sedation added to treatment. This includes oral sedation, which is in pill form and provides a relaxed state throughout treatment. I am also certified to administer I.V. sedation, which is often referred to as ‘twilight sleep.’

I.V. sedation is especially helpful for patients who have high levels of fear associated with dental visits and also for ‘dental phobics.’ Dental phobics are those who typically avoid dental care until something becomes so painful they have no other alternative. Many experience rapid heartbeats or even break out in a sweat just walking into a dental office.

Both sedation options erase most, if not all, memory of the dental procedure. With both, trained staff and specific safety monitoring equipment are used throughout the procedure.

Today’s dentistry can provide people with confident smiles that are healthy and beautiful. Why let anxiety or fear prevent you from a smile that can be an advantage to appearance, self-confidence and self-esteem? Arrange a free consultation to discuss your smile. We’ll meet in our private consultation room and sit in comfortable arm chairs as I answer your questions and explain your options for a smile that will complement your appearance and overall health.

Call 843-871-6351 to schedule.

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School Has Begun. Avoid Injuries To The Smiles You Love.

posted: August 29, 2017

With the beginning of the school year, contact sports have parents and grandparents cheering from the sidelines. The last thing we expect is to see a player with a broken tooth, tooth that has been knocked out, or fractured jaw. If that player is one of our own, it’s even worse.

I’ve treated all ages of dental patients over the years, including tending to the unexpected injuries of players from football, baseball, basketball, hockey (field and ice), soccer, gymnastics and even tennis. I’ve seen lips and tongues bitten deeply from activities such as swimming, biking and skiing.

No matter how minor, accidents that involve the mouth can be painful and may cause permanent damage. This is why we encourage wearing a custom-made mouth guard as often as practical.

The advantages of wearing a custom-made mouth guard include:

For a mouth guard to work in the first place, it must be worn in the first place! When a mouth guard is fitted to the unique contours of the mouth, it is typically worn more often since the fit is comfortable.

• Having a mouth guard that is made of superior material significantly lessens the damage that could have occurred. It also is less bulky and more comfortable to wear.

• A mouth guard can lessen the impact of trauma to the jaw in a head injury.

• Having a properly-fitted mouth guard can prevent knocked out teeth or broken or chipped teeth. It can also prevent biting the tongue, lips, or inside of the cheek. 

• For patients who wear braces, a mouth guard can prevent cuts and gashes to tender gum tissues inside the mouth.

While we hope you never have to deal with an injury to the mouth, knowing what to do should one occur can help to lessen the severity to a large degree. Below are quick tips so you can pursue the best course of action:

CUT OR BITTEN TONGUE, LIP OR CHEEK – Apply cold compress to affected areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, go to a hospital emergency room.

BROKEN TOOTH – Rinse dirt from the injured area with lukewarm water. Place cold compresses over the injury. Save any broken tooth fragments and call our office immediately for instructions.

KNOCKED OUT PERMANENT TOOTH – Rinse the tooth without touching the root portion while you handle the tooth as little as possible. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket and bite gently on a clean gauze or cloth to hold the tooth in place. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or water and call us immediately. Seek treatment quickly! Time is critical in saving a tooth.

FRACTURED OR BROKEN JAW – If a fractured jaw is suspected, go immediately to the nearest emergency room. First, however, prevent the jaws from moving by using a tie, towel or handkerchief to tie underneath the chin and over the top of the head.

BROKEN ORTHODONTIC BRACKETS OR WIRES – Cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze, or chewing gum. If a wire is stuck in the gums, cheek, or tongue, try to reach the orthodontist for immediate care rather than attempt to remove the wire yourself. If you cannot reach your orthodontist, call our office and we will assist in an appropriate manner.

Never hesitate to contact us for an emergency need. Our answering service will direct you if after hours.

To inquire about a custom-fitted mouth guard, call 843-871-6351. The health of your smile (and the smiles precious to you) depends on YOU!

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