What Is The Best Teeth Whitening Option?

Teeth can become discolored for a variety of reasons and many people want their teeth to be bright and white, so they look into teeth whitening. When it comes to getting a brighter smile, you can whiten your teeth at home or get a professional treatment. At home whitening typically includes over-the-counter products like whitening strips, pens, or toothpaste. Professional whitening includes custom-made whitening trays you take home or an in-office appointment. What might work best for some, might not necessarily work best for another. So what’s the best teeth whitening option for you?

Both over-the counter and professional treatments use peroxide bleaching agents as the main active ingredient. The difference between each option is the amount of peroxide it contains. Over-the-counter solutions use 3 – 20 percent where professional solutions contain 14 – 43 percent. Solutions with higher amounts of peroxide should be left on for a shorter amount of time. Keeping the solution on longer will dehydrate your teeth and make them more prone to sensitivity.

Professional Whitening

Professional teeth whitening options are much safer and more effective. Additionally, it ensures that all of the proper precautions are taken. So, when it comes to protecting your gums, the whitening agent only gets on your teeth.

At-Home Whitening Products

Over-the-counter products are cheaper, generally take longer to see results, and have limitations depending on your tooth color and health prior. If used incorrectly, at-home teeth whitening kits can lead to burned gums, tooth sensitivity, or pain. It’s always best to talk with your dentist to decide the best treatment option for you.

If you choose to go for an over-the-counter solution, we recommend that you use one from the list of bleaching products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Bleaching Products with ADA Seal of Acceptance Learn More About Teeth Whitening

How To Prevent Cavities & Tooth Decay

Cavities, often referred to as tooth decay, are tiny holes that develop in the hard surface of your teeth. They are most common in children and teenagers, but they can affect everyone including infants and toddlers. Take a closer look at what causes cavities and how you can prevent them.

Causes of Cavities

Cavities typically occur as a result of poor oral health habits but other various factors can increase the risk of getting a cavity, including:

  • Dry mouth. Dry mouth occurs when there is a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps wash away food stuck on the teeth and it counters the acid produced from bacteria in the mouth, which reduces the chance for cavities.
  • Foods and drinks. Certain foods aren’t as easily washed away from saliva, making them more likely to cause decay. Foods you should limit include: ice cream, honey, sugar, soda, cake, chips, cookies, and hard candy.
  • Constant snacking or sipping. Drinking or eating frequently throughout the day results in increased bacteria in your mouth. This bacteria produce the acids that attack tooth enamel.
  • Lack of fluoride. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps prevent cavities and can reverse the early stage of tooth decay. Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to help reduce your chance of cavities.

Cavity Prevention

Regular dental visits and daily brushing and flossing are the best protection against cavities. If you get a cavity, it should be treated right away. But, cavities left untreated get larger and larger, affecting the deeper layers of your teeth. Deeper cavities result in higher chances of experiencing severe toothache and infection. So, when it comes to cavities, prevention is key. Below are some of our cavity preventions tips:

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Brush and floss twice a day, ideally after each meal.
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Professional teeth cleanings remove plaque that builds up overtime which isn’t removed by regular brushing and flossing. Going to the dentist twice a year is one of the best cavity prevention options.
  • Dental sealants. Sealants protect the tooth enamel from harmful plaque and bacteria.
Learn More About Fillings and Sealants

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dental Implants?

One of the hottest topics in dentistry today is the use of dental implants. Implants have certainly revolutionized the field of replacement teeth. If you are considering tooth implants for missing teeth, you need to know the facts. There are pros and cons of dental implants that are carefully weighed by your dentist before surgery can be scheduled.

Research continually shows that dental implants are the best long term solution to replace missing teeth. However, like any type of surgery, there are advantages and disadvantages.

Cons of Dental Implants

No procedure is right for everyone, including dental implants. While there are some risks associated with dental implants, they are relatively mild. The disadvantages include:

1. You have to meet a set of requirements

In order to have dental implant surgery, you first have to meet certain criteria. As the procedure involves anchoring the implant to your jaw bone, if you’ve experienced significant bone loss as a result of losing teeth, there may not be enough for the dental implant to be successful. You also have to be in good health so your jaw bone can fully recover.

2. The cost of the procedure

While dental implants are the best long term solution for tooth loss, they’re not always the most cost effective. However, dental implants are well worth the price for the comfort, confidence and natural feel they give you.

3. The procedure can be lengthy

Dental implants are not a quick fix and can take several months to complete. If you’re replacing an existing damaged tooth, this will first need to be removed. Your dentist will then need to prepare the tooth site before fitting the implant anchor. Once the anchor has been fitted, you’ll need to wait several months while it heals and the surrounding bone grows. The final stage of the procedure involves placing the artificial tooth.

Pros of Dental Implants

While there are some drawbacks to dental implants, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

1. They look and feel like natural teeth

Dental implants have the appearance of real teeth. In fact, once your implant has been fitted, you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference between your replacement tooth and your real teeth. Implants also won’t feel any different from your regular teeth. Since the implants are anchored to your jaw, they’ll feel just as strong as your regular teeth too.

2. You can eat and chew with ease

Unlike dentures, implants won’t feel any different than your regular teeth when eating and chewing. Once the dental implant procedure is complete, you can eat what you want! Whether you fancy crunchy snacks, chewy foods, or hot or cold drinks, you can eat and drink without concern — just remember not to overdo the sugary treats.

3. Dental implants can last a lifetime

Implants are a long-lasting tooth replacement solution. You may need to replace the crowns every 10-15 years, but if you look after the implants, they can last a lifetime.

4. They’re easy to take care of

You should take care of your implants the same way you would take care of your regular teeth with daily brushing and flossing, regular dental checkups and a healthy diet.

5. They prevent bone loss

Dental implants are anchored into your jaw, similar to your real teeth. The screw thread of the implant acts as the root of a natural tooth, so with dental implants, your jaw bone remains strong and you won’t experience bone loss.

You can see that the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages. Dental implants have been proven to be a great option for people who suffer from tooth loss. We always want to make our patients look and feel great, and dental implants is a great way to do that. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have, so contact us today!

Learn More About Dental Implants

Oral Health Tips For Seniors

No matter your age, good dental hygiene is important in minimizing the chance of cavities and other oral health problems. As you age, it becomes even more critical that you care for your teeth. Even more so, if you have a health condition such as heart disease or diabetes. We’re here to help you prevent oral health problems throughout every stage of life. Below are just a few of our oral health tips for seniors and caring for your teeth as you age.

Maintain regular dental visits

Getting your teeth and gums checked regularly is very important, even if you wear dentures, catching any oral health problems early and helping prevent future issues. Keep in mind that Medicare doesn’t pay for routine dental care so you may want to look into private dental insurance.

Brush, floss, and rinse daily

Brushing and flossing each day with a fluoride toothpaste and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash removes plaque from your teeth and reduces the chances of tooth decay or gum disease.

Watch for changes in your mouth

Your risk of getting oral cancer increases with age. If you see any spots, lumps, white or red patches, or if you’re experiencing difficulty swallowing or chewing, numbness on your tongue, or swelling of your jaw—contact us right away.

Avoid tobacco

According to the CDC “smoking tobacco products (including cigarettes and cigars) causes almost nine of every 10 cases of lung cancer, but smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body”, including the mouth and throat.

Ask your doctor about dry mouth

Dry mouth is the result of not having enough saliva to keep your mouth wet, and makes it harder to talk, eat, and swallow. If your medication is causing dry mouth, ask your doctor if there is any substitution that doesn’t produce dry mouth.

Care for your dentures

Dentures require special care, including using a deep-cleaning solution to soak off food remnants from the denture. Dentures can make life easier for many seniors, but you have to keep up with their care.

Caring for your teeth as you age doesn’t have to be challenging! We’re here to help with any questions or concerns you may have about aging and oral health.

Dental Savings Plans

Going to the dentist can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have dental insurance or your insurance isn’t in network for a certain clinic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get regular dental care. Many dental offices offer dental savings plans, sometimes referred to as membership plans, for those that don’t have insurance.

Signing up for a membership plan with your dental care provider can help make sure you get the dental care you need- even without insurance!

What Are Dental Savings Plans?

Dental Savings Plans are membership based discount plans for dental health care. These plans are a great alternative to dental insurance, and plan members typically save between 10-60% on the regular price of dental care and treatments. By joining, you gain access to member only discounts that participating dental care providers have agreed upon. You pay the discounted rate directly to the dentist- no insurance needed!

What Do These Plans Cover?

This all depends on the practice, but typically they cover the following:

  • Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Restorative Dental Care
  • Specialist Dental Care
  • Preventative Dental Care

Talk with your dental office to see what they provide with their own membership plan.

Choosing a Plan That’s Right For You

One big plus of having a dental savings plan is that you have options. Simply by searching for the following, you can choose a plan that’s right for you:

  • By savings: Choose the plan that has the best overall savings
  • By dentist: Choose the plan that your dentist accepts
  • By procedure: Choose the plan you want based on your dental care needs.

Here at River Valley Dentistry, we want to make sure everyone has the option to get dental care. That’s why our dental savings plan can help you have peace of mind when you come to the dentist. To find out more about our membership plan, click here or call (423) 875-0600 for our Chattanooga office or (423) 803-4500 for our Ooltewah office. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t get the dental care you deserve.

Introduction to Different Types of Dentures

Dentures are a normal, everyday part of life for many people all over the world. In fact, we know they’ve been in use for thousands of years! The oldest record of denture use dates back to 700 BC in Northern Italy, and they were used throughout the years of the roman empire. So, if we’ve talked with you about dentures or you suspect you will need them, know that you’re not alone! Men and women have been wearing dentures through some of the most momentous events in history.

The cosmetic benefits of dentures are obvious, but they also can help people eat and speak, which is why they’ve been so popular for so much of the world’s history.

Did you know there are many different types of dentures? No matter how you lost your teeth, there’s a set of dentures that can help you look and feel normal again.

Here are some examples of the different types of dentures you and your dentist might decide to use, depending on your individual situation:

Full Dentures
When you hear the word “dentures”, you probably think of these. Full dentures are used to help a patient who’s lost most or all of their teeth. This type of denture needs to be custom-molded to your gums, so we may need to remove existing teeth if some are still left in place in your mouth. After your dentures are properly fitted, an adhesive is used to hold them in place over the course of each day. You’ll take them out and clean them every night.

Partial Dentures
Not every case of missing teeth is extreme enough to require a whole new set of dentures. When only certain portions of your teeth are missing, we may evaluate it together and consider a set of partial dentures. These not only help your teeth look natural, but also keep your remaining teeth from slowly drifting out of place and becoming crooked. Partial dentures are made of (1) a pink artificial root that matches the color of your gums, (2) false teeth to replace the missing ones, and (3) sometimes a clip or wire to hold everything in place.

Implant Supported Dentures
If you want your new smile to have a more solid foundation, you might consider implant-supported dentures. This style of denture includes four implants — titanium posts that fuse to your jawbone — which allow you to snap the dentures in and easily take them out for cleaning. The process of fitting and preparing implant supported dentures is more involved than fitting a set of traditional dentures, but the result is very convenient. This type of denture does not require the use of adhesive.

Our Goal is Your Beautiful Smile

We can help you find the right type of dentures for you, no matter what your situation. Modern dentures are more comfortable, convenient and realistic than ever before — the result of more than two thousand years of innovation! If you believe dentures might be a right fit for you, give us a call at (423) 875-0600 for our Chattanooga office or (423) 803-4500 for our Ooltewah office. We’ll be happy to talk with you about the different types of dentures and what the fitting will entail, so we can get your smile to look the way you want it to.

What Should You Know Before Getting Veneers?

What to Know Before Getting Dental Veneers

When it comes to improving your smile, veneers are one of the most effective solutions. They give you a fresh, new look without having to undergo something invasive like cosmetic surgery. These thin shell-like shells are made of porcelain and are attached to the front of teeth. There are many reasons why you might want to get a denture — from needing replacement teeth because of injury or an extracted tooth, to making your existing teeth look better and more uniform.

Like any type of procedure, there are some things you should know before getting dental veneers.

What You Can Expect When Getting Veneers

Getting dental veneers is a multi- step process that can take several weeks and a couple visits to your dentist.

Your dentist will evaluate your smile, then determine whether you’re a good candidate for veneers and discuss the plan for moving ahead. If you need any fillings or dental implants, these will have to be taken care of first.

Then, your dentist will prep your teeth by shaving a very thin layer of enamel off the front of your teeth. They will then take an impression of your teeth and create temporary veneers that will stay on your teeth until the permanent veneers are finished.

Once the final porcelain veneers are sculpted, you’ll return to the dentist to have them applied. The temporary veneers are removed and a bonding cement is applied to your teeth. Then, the permanent veneers are carefully installed and you’re ready to dazzle people with your new smile!

Caring for Your Veneers

After your procedure, your mouth and gums will likely be sore for a few days. The discomfort is completely normal and will pass as your mouth heals, but have some Tylenol on hand, just in case.

You should care for your veneers, just like you would your regular teeth- brush them twice a day and floss regularly. You should stay away from foods that might chip or crack your teeth. The better you take care of your teeth, the longer your veneers will last.

Most veneers will last 20 years, which, at that point, you’ll need to look into getting a new set due to regular wear and tear. If your veneers are damaged earlier than that, you will probably need to look into fixing them sooner.

Veneers Aren’t For Everyone

Getting veneers is an investment, so you’ll need to make sure that your finances are in order, or your insurance will help cover the cost.

Some other reasons why someone might not be able to get veneers are because they have a habit of teeth grinding, they have a crossbite or underbite, gum disease, poor oral hygiene, or severe tooth crowding.

If you’re wondering if dental veneers are a good choice for you, talk with your dentist. They’ll walk you through the steps of getting veneers and talk with you about if you’re a good candidate or not.

Give us a call today at (423) 875-0600 for the Chattanooga office or (423) 803-4500 for the Ooltewah office and we’ll get an appointment set up to discuss the possibility of you getting veneers!

What are the Different Types of Dental Implants?

Dental implants are changing the way we think about dental care. More and more people are discovering the great benefits that come with having one. But, what are they exactly? Every dentist has a different approach to the procedure of tooth replacement, but they all work in a similar way: by supporting a new tooth or crown. Here is a brief list explaining the most common types of dental implants.

Types of Implants

Each dental implant is different in terms of coating, connector and size options. However, while there are several methods to placing implants, the different types typically fall into one of two categories.

Endosteal (Endosseous) Implants: This is the most common type of dental implant. They are sometimes used as an alternative to a bridge or removable denture. Endosteal implants include screw types (threaded), cylinder types (smooth) or bladed types. Your dentist can help determine which type of dental implant will work best for you, but endosteal implants are safe, effective and the most popular choice used today.

For this type of implant, the dentist begins by drilling into the jawbone to insert a titanium screw, which acts as an artificial root. Before you can finish the treatment, you have to wait for the soft tissue and bone to heal around the root, which can take a couple of months. Endosteal implants are known for looking and feeling like natural teeth.

Subperiosteal Implants: Subperiosteal are hardly used today. They were once primarily used to hold dentures in place in patients with insufficient bone height. When subperiosteal implants are used, they are placed on the jawbone within the gum tissue, with the metal implant post exposed through the gums to hold the denture.

With subperiosteal implants, the overall treatment process is done in two appointments and is often a far shorter treatment plan than with an endosteal implant. However, subperiosteal implants don’t have the same level of stability since the implant doesn’t go into the jawbone but rather rests on top of the bone and is held in place by only soft tissue. This still gives more support than dentures without implants but is still less stable than a full endosteal implant system.

Dental implants are a great solution for people who suffer from tooth loss. Give us a call today to talk about which type of dental implant is best for you. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have!

Sedation: Making Your Dental Procedure as Comfortable as Possible

As we get older, we figure out that many things we didn’t like as children really were for our own good. Sometimes, we even end up liking some of those things, such as vegetables or early bedtime. But let’s be honest – sometimes when you’re sitting in your dentist’s waiting room listening to a poor eight-year-old boy throw a fit, you’re right there with him. Dental visits rarely end up being anyone’s favorite thing to do!

Even if going to the dentist doesn’t terrify you, the idea of a dentist visit can be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable for some people. About 15% of Americans are so intimidated by going to the dentist, they avoid it altogether – unfortunately for their teeth. Waiting to go to the dentist, or never going, can turn small dental issues into bigger, more complicated problems that are potentially more painful, too.

At River Valley Dentistry, we want you to know we understand coming to see us can seem intimidating, and we are committed to making your visit as comfortable as possible. Among other things we do to welcome you to our office, we can make most procedures relatively painless, thanks to the power of modern medicine.

Usually, a local anesthetic is enough to manage your pain. However, for some people pain isn’t the only concern. Patients who suffer from anxiety, for example, may be concerned the discomfort of a procedure will cause elevated anxiety. If that’s the case for you, don’t worry! Sedation can make your visit a breeze!

Controlling Dental Pain: Local Anesthesia vs. General Anesthesia vs. Sedation

Dentists use three primary methods to manage patients’ pain and stress during procedures:

  • Local anesthesia: numbs the immediate area being worked on
  • General anesthesia: makes you unconscious for the duration
  • Sedative medication: calms you – dentists can choose different levels of sedative

Local anesthesia is applied with a swab or syringe directly to the skin or muscle in the area the dentist plans to work on. Some sedatives are released into the patient’s bloodstream through a needle or catheter inserted into a vein. Unlike general anesthesia, where the patient is entirely unconscious and may need assistance with their breathing and heartbeat, sedative medication can leave the patient in a semi-conscious state. This means the patient can respond to verbal commands and doesn’t need to be watched as closely.

Many sedatives leave the patient with no memory of the procedure, so they don’t have to worry they will have traumatic memories of the procedure. A combination of local anesthesia and sedative medication makes a patient’s experience both painless and more emotionally comfortable.

Oral sedatives (by mouth) often simply calm a person’s nerves a bit. These sedatives leave the patient fully conscious but help them relax during the dental procedure.

The type of sedation a dentist uses depends on individual needs of each patient.

Going to the dentist may not ever be one of your favorite things, but at River Valley Dentistry we have ways (including sedation) to ensure your dental visit is as comfortable as possible. If you have questions about how we can accommodate you during your visit, or if you have specific questions about any procedure, give us a call at (423) 875-0600 for our Chattanooga location or (423) 803-4500 for our Ooltewah location, and we’ll be happy to ease your anxiety!

Pediatric Dental Care: Starting Your Child Off on the Right Tooth

The quality of dental care a child receives while growing up can have a huge impact on their teeth — and even their general health — for the rest of their life. Dental care sets the stage for the way teeth develop as they grow, and it’s important to begin with a good foundation. To reinforce healthy brushing habits with children and make sure their teeth are coming in nicely, we recommend visiting the dentist early, with a first visit at about twelve months of age, which is usually less than six months after their first tooth shows up.

Here are a few specific reasons to take your children to the dentist early in their lives:

Baby Teeth are Important

Your child’s baby teeth aren’t disposable just because they’re temporary. They play an important role in your child’s development. Making sure their baby teeth are in order will have a positive effect long after they lose them. Baby teeth act as placeholders for adult teeth; they help your child’s jaw and gums develop in the right way. Not only that, healthy baby teeth help children learn to speak by supporting the shape of the mouth correctly. And a dazzling smile is good for their self-esteem.

Experience Calms Anxiety

Many grownups feel anxious about going to the dentist. However, if you bring your children in for a visit at about the age of twelve months, they’ll be too young to think anything bad is going on and they won’t likely be very worried. One of the best ways to help children avoid the development of dental anxiety is to begin building a habit of regular dental visits early in life. Parents who wait until children are two years of age or older likely will have a much rougher time with visits at early ages, and the children could develop lifelong anxiety about going to the dentist.

Tooth Decay Comes Early

Tooth decay can set in as soon as your child develops their first tooth. A CDC report showed that as many as 40% of children will develop some form of tooth decay before they reach kindergarten. And that decay can have a long-term effect on the health of their teeth and gums.

Nip Problems in the Bud

After children have stopped growing, it can be difficult to get crooked teeth back in order. The process is likely to be more difficult, longer and more uncomfortable for the patient than if the problems are taken care of early in life. That’s why there’s no better time to fix misaligned or crooked teeth than when your child is still growing. As soon as their teeth show signs of these problems, we can begin early to guide their teeth into the correct position.

Giving your child’s teeth the care they deserve sets them up for dental success in the future by introducing good dental hygiene habits and preventing problems from getting worse as their teeth age. If you have any questions about how to give your child the best dental care possible or would like to set up an appointment, give River Valley Dentistry a call at (423) 875-0600 for our Chattanooga office or (423) 803-4500 for our Ooltewah office. Begin proper dental care as soon as your child’s first tooth shows up and you’ll put them on the road to a healthy, beautiful smile all their lives.