Our Apex NC Dentist Explains the Importance of Annual Dental Checkups

, by

Top Rated Apex NC Dentist

Getting an annual dental checkup is as important as finding a top rated dentist in Apex NC. Herein lies the biggest misconception. Just because a person is looking for a top rated dentist in Apex NC, doesn’t mean that dentist will provide the best care. Finding the right dentist and dental care is not just about finding the best Apex NC family dentist. Finding the best dental care consists of knowing a few things first.

What Makes Our Apex Family Dentist Stand Out?

1) A good family dentist will offer annual dental exams. Having annual dental exams are important. It’s not enough to brush and floss twice day. That part is important, but not all important. The rest lies in the care that the family dentist provides. Dental exams can give all parties involved an overview of what is going on.

2) Another reason for having checkups is a person avoids having future problems with their teeth.. When a person goes in to have a checkup, the dentist can see if there are any issues. If there are, he or she will know how to tackle them the best.

3)If a person waits too long, it could prove detrimental to their mouth and pocket book. This is especially true with the really big treatments.

4) It shows the person knows how to take care of themselves. Those who take proper care of their teeth and gums, will always look attractive and appealing to others. The person will also feel more confident about who they are inside. A persons’ smile can tell a lot about who they are. By skipping this step, a person winds up not feeling to good about themselves.

5) Having regular checkups reduce the chance of gum disease. It’s not just about making sure the teeth are pretty and attractive. One must also look at their gum tissue. Are the gums starting to bleed a little bit? This could be a sign that the person is not taking proper care of their mouth. That is why having annual checkups are so important.

Our Dentist in Apex Shares FAQs Regarding Dental Sealants

, by

What are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are thin coatings that are made out of plastic. They are placed over the teeth in order to prevent them from decaying. They help keep the food particles and germs out of the grooves of the teeth. Sealants are considered preventative dentistry.

Are Sealants 100 Percent Effective?

Some studies have shown that sealants can be 100 percent effective. The tooth will be protected as long as the sealant remains in place.

Can you see Sealants?

Sealants are clear and white. That is why they can only be seen up close.

How Long do the Sealants Last?

The sealants can potentially last for several years. In some cases, sealants can last over 10 years.

Are Sealants Expensive?

Sealants are affordable. Because they can prevent tooth decay, they can also help you save money on dental care. Your general dentist will discuss the cost of sealants.

Will my Teeth Look Different?

One may feel the sealants on their teeth. However, because the sealants are thin, they do not cause discomfort.

Who Needs Sealants?

The best candidates for sealants are children because their permanent teeth have just come in. However, older patients may also benefit from getting sealants. If your general dentist believes that you are at a higher risk for getting tooth decay, then you may need to get sealants.

Will I Still Need Fluoride Treatments?

Fluoride treatments are still needed. It helps strengthen your enamel and provides additional protection from tooth decay.

Why do I Need Sealants?

Decay can cause permanent damage to your teeth. Sealants help you save time and money by protecting your teeth. It is also important to remember that a filling is not an easy fix for a cavity. A tooth gets weaker every time that it is drilled.

If you are interested in getting sealants, then you will need to contact our dentist office.

Our Apex Dentists Teach You How to Brush Your Teeth the Proper Way

, by

Our Apex dentists are eager to show you the proper tooth brushing tips in order to prevent gum disease. Most people report some confusion when it comes to tooth brushing tips. Some dentists will recommend one way, while other dentists say something else. There doesn’t seem to be one uniform recommendation for oral health. But as long as you following the tips of our Apex dentists, you will experience a healthier oral hygiene routine in no time.

Split Mouth into Four Groups

Draw an imaginary line down the middle of your two front teeth on the top and bottom of your mouth. You should now have four distinct sections of your mouth: the top left, the bottom left, the top right, and the bottom right. Brush each section thoroughly for 30 seconds. This is how you can be sure that you’re spending enough time with your brushing habits. Many people just don’t brush long enough.

Use Gentle, but Firm Strokes

Don’t grip your toothbrush with a tight fist. Use the same grip you would use for a pencil. All you need is short, gentle strokes to get rid of plaque and prevent gum disease. Applying too much pressure to the brush will irritate your teeth and gums. As long as you brush for two full minutes twice per day, you shouldn’t have to apply a lot of pressure when you brush.

45 Degree Angle

You want to hold the brush at a 45 degree angle when you use it. This is the most effective angle to remove plaque and keep it from building up in your mouth. Use short, horizontal strokes in a circular motion. This can be difficult on the sides and in the back of your mouth. But you should be able to fit the brush into those areas of your mouth enough to get the job done.

Twice Per Day

It can’t be stated enough that you must brush twice per day. It’s easy to get into the routine once you make an effort. You won’t even need to make an effort after a while since it will be automatic. You could set reminders on your phone each morning to tell you to brush your teeth. You need to brush twice per day so that the plaque doesn’t build up too much. Your breath will taste and smell better with regular brushing, and your oral health will improve.

Our Apex Dentist Explains 3 Common Sources for Jaw Pain

, by

Many people experience jaw problems that cause them pain or annoyance and sometimes they may only be temporary, but other times, they may last for weeks, months or even years.

When this happens, patients aren’t always aware of what’s causing their jaw pain, which may be a problem with their TMJ (temper mandibular joint). This joint holds the jaw to the rest of the skull, and when it causes pain and other troubling symptoms, it’s usually a sign of a TMJ disorder.

Naturally, you use your jaw for many aspects of normal day-to-day life, so a TMJ disorder can significantly interfere with it. In order to relieve jaw pain, it’s necessary to first understand the causes, and how a dentist in Apex, like Dr. Rylan Hansen, can help. Here are three common sources for jaw pain.

Malocclusion

A malocclusion is more simply known as an improper bite, and occurs when the teeth do not fit together correctly. This not only causes pain but also inefficient chewing, poor nutrient absorption and an increased risk of tooth breakage. Malocclusions can be caused by a number of factors such as genetics, wisdom teeth impaction, botched dental or orthodontic procedures, thumb-sucking and missing teeth that allow the surrounding ones to shift out of place. To address this issue, you should start by visiting your general dentist. They may place a crown or bridge to help correct small malocclusions. For more significant cases, tooth extraction, braces, or surgery in rare cases may be recommended. Because malocclusions can result from past botched procedures, your dentist may also be able to repair these if they’re the cause.

Tooth Grinding

Grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism, can cause them to become flattened on top. Bruxism most often occurs without the patient’s knowledge while they’re asleep. Otherwise unexplained jaw pain is the most reliable symptom especially if it occurs in the morning, but you may also experience frequent headaches. If you visit your general dentist, they can usually provide you with a special mouth guard to wear at night, thereby protecting your teeth against grinding.

Injury

Any time you sustain an injury to your head, neck or shoulders, there’s a potential for it to cause jaw pain. Injuries like these can damage the jaw joint, tear the muscle tissue, pop the jaw out of alignment or cause chronic inflammation of the area. As a result, patients can experience pain and cracking during eating or talking. Pain from these injuries can often be through one or more methods, including re-alignment, special dental devices, and in some cases, surgery.

Living with chronic jaw pain can make your life miserable. Furthermore, when we are unable to speak or eat without impediment, it complicates effective communication and your ability to keep yourself healthy. If you’ve been struggling to relieve jaw pain, contact our dentist in Apex today to find out what options you have.

Tips for Relieving Dry Mouth, from Our Apex Family Dentist

, by

Occasionally, a patient will visit our office expecting to have no dental cavities, and is very surprised to learn that they have one. Often, this patient is middle-aged or older, brushes and flosses every day, and has no prior history of tooth decay. When this happens, dentists immediately begin to suspect dry mouth caused by new medications or an undiagnosed condition. Dry mouth causes a decrease in saliva production, which is crucial for regulating oral bacteria and keeping the teeth healthy. Below is more information about the causes of dry mouth, and some treatments that can help.

Common Causes of Dry Mouth

Many medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Common dry-mouth inducing medications include muscle relaxants; pain medications; antidepressants; blood pressure and heart rhythm medications; Parkinson’s and Alzheimers disease medications; antihistamines; and decongestants. Recreational drug use, chemotherapy, nerve damage due to injury or surgery, and poor nutrition can also cause dry mouth. Note that this list is far from comprehensive; to learn whether a medication, behavior or condition may be causing your dry mouth, consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

Treatments for Dry Mouth

Regardless of the cause of your dry mouth, it’s important to do something about it, as lack of saliva can lead to cavities, gingivitis (gum disease), and halitosis (bad breath). Below are some tips on managing dry mouth from our Apex dentist.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is important for many aspects of your health in general, but for those suffering from dry mouth, it is even more important. Strive to drink at least 8-12 eight ounce glasses of water a day, unless your doctor advises against it. Taking small sips throughout the day will benefit you more than consuming a large amount in one sitting, as it helps to “wash” your teeth all day long.

Chew Sugarless Gum

Chewing sugarless gum can help to stimulate saliva production, providing your salivary glands are still operational, and not permanently damaged by injury or chemotherapy. The best sugar substitute, from a dentist’s perspective, is xylitol, a plant-derived sweetener that actively kills harmful tooth bacteria. Sucking on sugar-free lollipops can also help boost saliva production.

Avoid Drugs, Alcohol & Citrus 

Alcohol, caffeine, and citric acid can all dry out the mouth and inhibit saliva production. If you use an alcoholic mouthwash, you might want to try switching to a saltwater rinse instead. On the subject of indulgences, tobacco and marijuana can also worsen dry mouth, so if you use these, try to decrease or eliminate your use. Note that the nicotine in electronic cigarettes also contributes to dry mouth.

Add Moisture to Your Environment

Moistening dry foods with broth, sauces, milk or melted butter can make it easier to chew and swallow; you could also simply try adding more non-citric fruit and vegetables to your diet. You can also use a humidifier to add moisture to the ambient air around you, especially while you sleep.

Suffering from Dry Mouth? Talk to an Apex Dentist Today  

As oral healthcare specialists, dentists are able to assess potential causes of dry mouth, and prescribe or recommend products that can treat it. Many moisturizing gels, lozenges, and mouthwashes designed specifically to treat dry mouth are available over the counter; if these prove to be ineffective, your dentist can prescribe medications that stimulate the saliva glands. To reach a dentist in Apex NC, please click here.

What Forensic Investigators Can Learn From Teeth! | Apex Dentist

, by

If you watch a lot of crime shows like CSI: Miami, you may already know that teeth are often the only body parts that can survive severe types of destruction, like burning. Because of this, forensic scientists often have only teeth to work with when it comes to identifying a victim of a crime or natural/manmade disaster. In today’s post, our Apex dentist explains some of the things forensics investigators (and anthropologists!) can determine by examining dental fragments.

Age at the Time of Death

Teeth can help indicate how old an unknown victim was when he or she died. This is especially easy to do when the victim is a child or adolescent, since baby teeth erupt on a generally universal schedule. The first baby teeth start to emerge during the first two years of life; the first two permanent incisors and the first permanent molar emerge between 6 and 8 years of age; and the majority of the remaining permanent teeth erupt between the ages of 10 and 12 years of age. Wisdom teeth tend to erupt around 18 years of age.

Using dentition to age adult victims is a bit more challenging. Once the wisdom teeth have erupted, age can only be estimated by only morphological changes within the teeth. These changes include tooth root translucency, which increases with age; dental wear on the teeth; and the ratio of amino acids in the teeth (D-aspartic acids convert to L-aspartic acids with age).

Racial Determination

There are very slight differences in the skull structure of different races, which can help assist forensic investigators in identifying victims. People of Asian or Native American descent often have incisors which are shovel-shaped, with ridges on the rear surface of the tooth. People of Caucasian descent tend to have pointier incisors, and smaller teeth overall, often with significant crowding and impacted third molars. Those of African descent rarely have crowding, and the upper teeth often project outwards due to the angled shape of the maxilla. However, these differences are becoming less prevalent, and therefore less useful in identification, as our species becomes less geographically isolated.

Lifestyle & Diet

Teeth hold many clues about an individual’s health issues, even issues that did not originate in the mouth. Tooth loss and erosion of the tooth enamel can be a sign of an eating disorder, or a chronic condition like osteoporosis. Heart disease, skin conditions, blood conditions, and kidney disease can all be identified by examining the teeth. The wear on teeth can also show evidence of what the individual ate and chewed, a detail that is more useful to historic and prehistoric anthropologists.

Individual Dental Characteristics

Forensic dentists can often match victims with specific dental characteristics, like cavity fillings, crown or implant restorations, and orthodontic treatments. If the teeth are damaged by fire, the enamel is often burned off, but post-mortem root canals can still provide clues.

Providing Understanding and Closure

In mass casualty disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, or plane crashes, forensic dentists are enlisted to view the most badly damaged or decomposed remains. Dentists are often be the only ones able to identify the dead, giving them back their names and allowing their families much-needed closure. That’s why, even though it’s unfortunate that these types of situations occur, we should be very grateful for this incredible specialization of dentistry.

Hansen Dentistry is a dentist office in Apex, NC, serving residents of Apex, Cary, and Morrisville. To schedule an appointment with our office, please click here.

Tips on Creating a Plastic-Free Oral Care Routine, from Our Apex NC Dentist

, by

Plastic. It’s everywhere, in almost everything. It’s certainly in your bathroom, used to make oral care items like toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste tubes. All of these items are essential for having a clean, healthy smile, and yet all of them, unfortunately, are non-recyclable. 

The good news is that you don’t have to be part of the problem. More and more people are joining the zero-waste moving, striving to only use items that are biodegradable, compostable, and plastic-free. Below are some simple swaps you can make to ensure you have healthy teeth and a healthy planet. 

Bamboo Toothbrushes 

Each year, over one billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the US alone. That’s 50 million pounds of non-recyclable plastic waste, or enough toothbrushes to wrap around the world four times. 

Luckily, many companies make bamboo toothbrushes, which can be tossed in a compost bin to decompose naturally. Since bamboo is a material which grows very quickly (many people consider it to be a weed), bamboo products are usually very inexpensive. The only drawback is the bristles: most bamboo toothbrushes use plastic bristles, which must be pulled out before you can compost the handle. If you want a fully-organic toothbrush, your best option is one that uses boar’s hair bristles. 

Silk Dental Floss

Most commercial dental floss is made of nylon, Teflon, or some other synthetic petroleum compound. One great, organic material that can take the place of dental floss is silk, which is spun from silkworms. You might rummage through your local secondhand store to find a 100% silk clothing article, and repurpose the threads for floss. You can also purchase silk thread from art supply stores, but these will usually arrive in plastic packaging. The most convenient, waste-free method is to purchase thread from a brand like Dental Lace. This company packages its floss in recyclable glass vials with metal lids. When you’ve used up your floss, you can send the vial back to the company, and they’ll fill it with new product. 

DIY Toothpaste

There are countless recipes for toothpaste on the internet, the vast majority of them involving baking soda and/or bentonite clay. As an abrasive substance that scrubs away plaque, baking soda is an acceptable material. But if you decide to go this route, make sure to include xylitol in your mix. Despite the pharmaceutical-sounding name, xylitol is a natural sweetener extracted from birch wood and certain fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is unique among sweeteners because it acts as a sort of “mousetrap” for the bacteria that live on your teeth, effectively killing them. 

In addition, you can also purchase fluoride powder, which strengthens your tooth enamel. Both of these products will likely arrive in plastic packaging that may or may not be recyclable. However, just one bag of each is enough for a lifetime’s supply of homemade toothpaste—versus countless non-recyclable toothpaste tubes. 

Need a Dental Exam in Apex? Stop by Hansen Dentistry! 

We hope this blog post has helped you learn ways to live a greener, low-waste lifestyle while still taking care of your oral health. Doing so will help keep the actual teeth in your mouth free of artificial substances like composite resin, which, while a good replacement for your natural enamel, isn’t as great as the real thing! Having regular dental cleanings every 6 months is the best way to ensure long-term dental health, which means less waste and less expense on your part! To schedule a dental cleaning with our Apex dentist, click here.

The Worst Holiday Sweets For Your Teeth, According to Our Apex Dentist

, by

While most people are anticipating Santa’s midnight visit, we at Hansen Dentistry have our eye out for another silent visitor that comes this time of year: cavities. The influx in candy, cookies, chocolate, cake, and other holiday treats around this time boils down to one thing: more sugar, sugar, sugar! The bacteria in your mouth love sugar, and once they eat it, they turn it into acid. That acid then destroys your enamel, causing cavities and tooth decay. If you aren’t careful, you might have to start the new year with a trip to our Apex dentist office! In order to help you avoid that fate (as much as we love seeing you), we’ve put together a few treats to cut back on this holiday.  

Candy Canes

It’s the one candy that is immediately associated with Christmas, so much so that it’s even used as a symbol for it. You will likely see plenty of candy canes in Christmas trees, stockings, and cups of hot chocolate this season. However, candy canes are 100% sugar, and as a hard candy, they even have the ability to crack or damage your teeth. That’s why, if you need that extra kick of peppermint, we urge you to stick to soft options, like Peppermint Patties or peppermint syrup in your coffee. If you just have to have a candy cane, suck it—don’t bite it!

Caramel & Gummy Candy

Caramel is famous for sticking to your teeth. Not only is this irritating, caramel’s staying power gives bacteria ample time to consume it and convert it into acid. (That’s why dentists recommend you consume sweets all in one sitting, rather than at multiple points throughout the day. For example, if you have a soda, drink it all at lunch, instead of sipping it all day long.) Caramel and sticky candies also run the risk of pulling out fillings our crowns—so if you can, stick to chewable sweets like cake, chocolate, and cookies.  

Sweet Popcorn 

Popcorn: the dentist’s most dreaded enemy. Well, maybe we’re being a bit dramatic—but it is true that a large percentage of cracked tooth incidents we see are caused by unpopped popcorn kernels. Then there’s the risk of those thin, sharp husks getting wedged in-between the teeth, which can cause an infection or even an abscess. Then when you combine popcorn with sugar (or worse, caramel—see above) we get the worst of both worlds: something sweet that can get lodged behind your teeth for days or weeks undetected! If you happen to eat sweet popcorn this holiday, be sure to check each handful carefully for unpopped kernels, and resist chewing them. 

Need a Dental Exam in Apex? Stop by Hansen Dentistry! 

Are you happy that this article wasn’t a petition to get rid of holiday candy altogether? Don’t worry. Our dentists, hygienists, and front desk staff are real people, with kids—we know that getting rid of candy on Christmas just reasonable! However, you can choose candy that has less risk, and enjoy it safely. And if you need a dental service in Apex, be sure to request an appointment with us today

“What are Those Things?”: Common Dental Tools Used by Our Apex Dentists

, by

“What is that?” That’s a question we hear at our Apex dentist office quite often. And it’s understandable—having a dangerous-looking implement inserted into your mouth can be pretty scary, especially for people who have a dental phobia. If you are nervous about going to the dentist, knowing beforehand what the tools are and what they do can help calm your anxiety. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common tools our Apex dentist uses. 

Mouth Mirror

Probably the most recognizable dental instrument, the mouth mirror isn’t just used to look at your teeth; it’s also often used to retract the patient’s cheeks to the dentist a better look.

Dental Explorer

Many patients fear the dental explorer, which resembles a hook with a pointy end. Although this device may look like has an evil purpose, it’s only used to tap around suspect areas of enamel. If the explorer “sticks” in a certain spot, your dentist or hygienist can tell that tooth decay is present. If it doesn’t, your enamel is strong and healthy.

Periodontal Probe

This instrument is a tiny rod with small markings on it, spaced one millimeter apart. Some patients have remarked that it looks a little bit like a mosquito leg. The periodontal probe is used to measure bone loss around the tooth (periodontitis). The dentist or hygienist carefully slides the probe down into the space between the tooth and the gum, and the deeper the instrument goes, the more bone loss is present. Generally, healthy teeth will measure around one to three millimeters. If a four-millimeter pocket is noted, it could be an indication of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Anything higher than that suggests periodontitis.

Cotton Pliers

Cotton pliers are another rather wicked-looking implement whose purpose is quite benign. The cotton pliers are essentially just long-handled tweezers, bent at a small angle for greater accuracy and precision when placing, you guessed it, rolls of cotton. 

Spoon Excavator

A spoon excavator has a long handle and a flat, rounded end, shaped somewhat like a spoon. It is most commonly used to remove decay or debris, although it can also be used for many other tasks, such as shaping composite resin.

Saliva Ejector

You probably know the saliva ejector as the “spit sucker.” This little disposable tube uses suction to keep water, saliva, and other debris out of the back of the throat during a procedure.

Contact Our Apex Dentist Office Today! 

Whether you need a simple tooth cleaning or an important restorative procedure, Hansen Dentistry is here to help you every step of the way. Our Apex dentist, Dr. Hansen, and his amazing staff go above and beyond to help our patients feel relaxed and comfortable in the dentist’s chair. If you have any questions about a certain procedure or the tools we use, we will be more than happy to answer. To request an appointment with our office, click here to fill out our easy contact form

Our Apex Dentist Explains why Xylitol is Good for Teeth, Bad for Dogs

, by

Now that Halloween’s in the rear-view mirror, you might be motivated to give your body a break from all that sugar by switching to low-calorie sweeteners. If so, xylitol is a great option, because it’s natural, tasty, and deadly to the bacteria on your teeth. In fact, xylitol is one of the few things that can truly kill cavity-causing bacteria, which is why dentists highly recommend it. However, it’s important to be aware that xylitol is also very dangerous to dogs, for reasons we will explain below.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is found naturally in fruit, vegetable fibers, hardwood trees, corncobs, and certain other plant species. It was first used as a sweetener in Finland during World War II, when sucrose was unavailable. Xylitol has become very popular in the last few decades due to the fact that it’s just as sweet as sucrose, but has far fewer calories. Additionally, xylitol causes very little insulin release in humans, making it an excellent alternative for people with diabetes, prediabetes, obesity, or other metabolic problems. However, this is unfortunately not the case when it comes to dogs and other animals.

Why Does Xylitol Harm Dogs?

In people, rats, horses, and rhesus monkeys, xylitol causes little to no increase in insulin release or blood sugar levels. However, in species like dogs, cats, cows, goats, rabbits, and baboons, xylitol causes a large insulin release and drop in blood sugar. For dogs, the insulin release from is so massive that it causes the blood sugar to drop dangerously low, resulting in weakness, trembling, seizures, collapse, and even death. At very high dosages, xylitol can cause massive liver necrosis in dogs, in which large numbers of liver cells die abruptly, killing the animal.

Xylitol is just as harmful to cats, but there is less cause for concern when it comes to them. This is because cats typically ignore xylitol-heavy foods like gum, cookies, cake, and peanut butter.

Foods Which Contain Xylitol

While we highly encourage patients to chew sugar-free gum that contains xylitol, we also don’t want any harm to come to family pets. Make sure that you check the following products carefully for xylitol:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Chewing gum
  • Peanut butter
  • Sugar-free candy
  • Sugar free breath mints
  • Fruit drinks
  • Jellies and jams
  • Cereals
  • Baked goods
  • Sugar-free puddings and Jello
  • Over-the-counter vitamin supplements

Be aware, too, that not all product labels clearly state whether or not they contain xylitol. If a label states only, “artificially sweetened,” presume that it contains xylitol to err on the safe side. Always keep xylitol-containing products high out of reach, and try to induce vomiting immediately if you think your dog has ingested any.

Need a Dentist in Apex NC?

If you want to keep your teeth healthy and safe, head over to Hansen Dentistry. Our Apex dentists can’t wait to make your teeth strong and beautiful as possible! To request an appointment, click here.