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Soddy Daisy Smiles tackles common dental questions

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

Whether it’s a basic question of everyday care or easing fear of a common dental procedure, Drs. Robert and Mandy Shearer of Soddy Daisy Smiles offer answers.

I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist, yet I know I need to. What should I do?

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    Drs. Robert and Mandy Shearer help patients keep their teeth looking their best at Soddy Daisy Smiles.

If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9 and 15 percent of Americans state they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. The first thing to do is talk with a dentist. The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.

Why do I need my teeth cleaned?

Once plaque sits on your teeth for more than 24 hours it hardens into tartar. Plaque and tartar contain huge quantities of bacteria that release toxins, causing deterioration of the bone

and soft tissues holding the teeth and resulting in eventual tooth loss. Tartar must be scraped off professionally with scalers and cannot be removed with a toothbrush or floss.

How often should I see my dentist?

On average, seeing a dentist twice a year works well for most people. A few people can get away with fewer visits. Others may need more frequent visits. People with very little risk of cavities or gum disease can do fine seeing their dentist just twice a year. People with a high risk of dental disease might need to visit every three or four months, or more, depending on the diagnosis. This high-risk group includes:

• Smokers

• Diabetics

• People with current gum disease

• People with a weak immune response to bacterial infection

• People who tend to get cavities or build up plaque

My dentist says I have a cavity and that I need a filling, but why doesn’t my tooth hurt?

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“Most dental problems don’t have any symptoms until they reach more advanced stages, so don’t wait for things to hurt,” said Dr. Mandy Shearer. “It is best to get a thorough dental exam and diagnose and treat problems early. Waiting often makes problems more difficult and more expensive to fix.”

Why do I need a crown; can’t you just fill it?

When a tooth becomes structurally flawed from decay, a failing filling or fracture and/or crack, there is often little tooth material left to work with and a crown is necessary. Filling material cannot be sculpted well to replace huge amounts of tooth, resulting in a quick failure.

A crown is a restoration that covers, or “caps,” a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, thus strengthening and improving the appearance of a tooth.

“Crowns are necessary when a tooth is generally broken down and fillings won’t solve the problem,” Dr. Robert Shearer explained. “If a tooth is cracked, a crown holds the tooth together to seal the cracks so the damage doesn’t get worse.”

Are there any alternatives to dentures?

There are many treatment alternatives for dentures. The most frequent complaint from a denture wearer is the retention and stability of the lower denture. Treatments can range from as little as two implants to support the lower denture to a full mouth of implants to replace each individual tooth. Dental implants are becoming the alternative of choice to dentures.

“Dental implants are one of the most life-changing procedures we offer at our practice,” said Dr. Robert Shearer. “Implant technology is allowing our patients to look and feel like they have natural teeth again, and get that part of their life back that was consumed by their partials or dentures.”

Why should I floss?

Flossing is essential for healthy, strong teeth. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste removes bacteria that causes dental decay from the front and back of your teeth. However, toothbrush bristles can’t reach the surfaces in between teeth or under the gum line. When you don’t floss, you’re not cleaning 40 percent of the tooth. Using dental floss daily can clear away bacteria in these hard-to-reach areas before they cause decay and gum disease. Flossing not only removes food trapped between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t dislodge, but also removes the film of bacteria that forms between teeth before it can harden into plaque.

Are electric toothbrushes better than manual brushes?

Both manual and power toothbrushes are effective, but studies have shown that electric and sonic toothbrushes, if used properly, can perform better than manual toothbrushes. The key is to use the toothbrush that best meets your needs. For example, people with arthritis or limited dexterity may find an electric toothbrush especially helpful. People with orthodontic braces may find it easier to brush effectively with an electric toothbrush; and since the rotating head of a powered toothbrush requires less force and manipulation than a manual toothbrush, the risk of dislodging orthodontic appliances might be reduced.

MORE INFORMATION

Drs. Mandy and Robert Shearer meet with clients to address their dental work and recommend a variety of dentistry options that will be the best fit for each client. For more information about Soddy Daisy Smiles and its services, visit soddydaisysmiles.com, or call the office at 423-332-5275 to schedule an appointment.

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