Our Company Blog

The Importance of Flossing

Every time you go to the dentist they ask the same questions, and one always seems to be about how often you floss. Most people cannot answer this with the number that they are looking for, which is only once a day. What they do not understand is flossing is the only way the spaces between your teeth will get clean since your brush and mouthwash cannot reach. The dentists on staff at West Meade Dental will be able to answer any questions you may have at your next appointment.

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Tartar

Not only is your dentist or hygienist going to brush and floss your teeth for you while in office, they are going to take a little tool and scrape off any tartar that they find. Tartar is a buildup of plaque that starts forming around the gum line. While this process does not actually hurt, it is not especially comfortable. Since tartar starts off as a soft substance, brushing and flossing can remove it at home. However, once it has hardened it can only be removed by the professionals.

Gum Disease

Since the teeth are positioned right against the gums, flossing is the only way to get anything that might be trapped there out. When this happens, the food will harden and begin to form tartar. This is how gingivitis, the first step of gum disease where your gums turn red and swell, is started. If this is left for a long enough period of time a more severe type of gum disease known as periodontitis.

Other Diseases

While your teeth are only located in your mouth, the diseases that can start there are capable of spreading to your entire body. Studies have shown that once a disease is in the blood stream it can start to harm your organs and body’s systems. Periodontal disease has also been known to lead to heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses.

Economically Friendly

That’s right! Flossing can overtime save you money. Since it is what helps prevent many diseases and oral health problems, it will save you from having to have these things fixed. There are many effective, inexpensive floss options available at your local supermarket from standard floss to disposable picks.

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A Kid-friendly Dental Visit

At West Meade Dental, one of our specialties is children’s dentistry, and we take care to cater to kids to keep them from being afraid of the dentist. The fear of the dentist can be difficult to conquer, and children who are scared to go to the dentist can grow up to be adults who fear the dentist. Learning good dental hygiene is a very important lesson for a child, and regular dental visits is the best way to learn how to properly take care of your teeth. While we do all we can to make your child as comfortable as possible, Parents Magazine has some tips of things you can do to encourage your child to go to the dentist, and we would like to share these tips with you.

Tips on Making Your Child Comfortable at the Dentist

Most children are afraid to visit the dentist. Make your child as comfortable as possible so that their trip to the dentist would be a wonderful experience.

Most children are afraid to visit the dentist. Make your child as comfortable as possible so that their trip to the dentist would be a wonderful experience.

● Start dental visits at a young age.

The earlier your child goes to the dentist, the better. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the first visit should be when your child receives his or her first tooth.

● Keep it simple when preparing for a dental visit.

The more information you give your child, the more questions he or she will ask. Telling your child about the possibility of getting a filling will give your child more anxiety. Keep a positive attitude, but do not give your child false hope because if an additional treatment is needed, your child will be likely to mistrust the dentist and you.

● Watch the words you use.

It is best to let the dental staff introduce new dental vocabulary to your child as they know what words to use. Tell your child the dentist will be looking for “sugarbugs” when cleaning teeth, or just tell your child the dentist wants to count his or her teeth and check his or her smile. Positive phrases like “clean, strong, healthy teeth” go a long way in making your child more comfortable about the visit.

● Try a pretend visit.

All you need is a toothbrush to play Let’s Pretend with your child as you as the dentist. Count your child’s teeth using numbers or letters of the alphabet. You can also let your child role-play with a toothbrush and a stuffed animal. Reading your child books about the dentist like Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile! A Visit to the Dentist is another good idea.

● Do not try to relate your own experiences.

It is a mistake to take your child with you to your own dental appointments, say experts. Your child could sense your own anxiety, causing him or her to mistrust the dentist. Telling your child about fillings and root canals you have had creates more anxiety, and your child may never even have to have these procedures. Taking a child to an adult dental appointment can give the wrong impression as a kid’s dental visit usually involves fun things like video games and movies or TV shows to watch during the visit.

● Be prepared for fussing and a possible tantrum.

It is completely normal for a young child to cry on his or her first visit to the dentist. Luckily our staff is used to working with children and have seen all sorts of fits and tantrums. Let our staff guide you on how to support your child. Sometimes all you need to do is hold your child’s hand.

● Emphasize the importance of good dental hygiene.

Teaching your child that going to the dentist is a necessity to keep his or her teeth clean and strong goes a long way in promoting the importance of good oral health. Staying positive about dental visits helps your child to actually want to go see the dentist.

If your child needs a dental visit, contact West Meade Dental today to schedule an appointment. Our experienced staff knows how to take care of kids, and your attitude helps us greatly.

Ways to Improve the Look of Your Teeth

When people hear cosmetic surgery they often think of the stars that have additions in some places, and removal in others.  However, when it comes to your teeth you can have all kinds of additional enhancements to make your smile even more straight and white.  The trained professionals at West Meade Dental can answer any of the questions you may have and explain which procedures would benefit you the most.

You can regain confidence in your teeth. It is one way to improve your well-being.

You can regain confidence in your teeth. It is one way to improve your well-being.

Crowns and Bridges

Crowns and bridges are helpful to both the appearance of your teeth, but also the health.  A crown is similar to a cap and will straighten and align the tooth.  However, it will also reinforce a weak tooth.  A bridge is usually suggested when you are have teeth missing.  This will keep the remaining teeth from shifting.  They will also help protect from diseases that are caused by missing teeth.

Teeth Whitening

Over a period of time, our pearly white teeth will become discolored.  The more we use our teeth, the easier it is for them to lose their color from loss of enamel.  People will then have their teeth whitened to remove some of the stains and debris that are present.  It is important to know the risks of teeth whitening.  Some patients may experience sensitivity, gum irritation, and technicolor teeth.  This is why you should always check with a dentist before using any product you are unfamiliar with.

Implants

When you have a tooth missing, your dentist might also recommend you having an implant.  It looks more natural and functions like an original tooth, all without harming other teeth around it.  These implants actually grow to your jaw to better protect the bone.  To place the implant, they will need to place a small screw into your jaw.  Over the next few months, the implant and the bone will grow together.  Some implants will require a second step to install an extension.  Some patients are able to have different methods where multiple steps are unnecessary.  Your dentist will be able to advise you on which procedure is best for you.

Dentures

It is very important that dentures are kept clean and well protected.  You should clean your dentures everyday with a brush designed for dentures, and no toothpaste as it can harm the dentures.  Also, you can buy special cleaners for soaking.  Since dentures are fragile you should always handle with care to prevent them from breaking.  Lastly, remove them from your mouth every night to give your gums time to breathe.  For more info on denture care, click here.

 

 

8 Foods & Drinks Good for Teeth

Most of us know that drinking soda and eating candy is not the best for our overall health or our teeth. However, maybe you aren’t familiar with the foods and drinks that are good for your teeth.

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Bad Habits that Affect Oral Health

You might not know it, but a lot of the things you do each day  can affect your oral health. Here's what you should know:

You might not know it, but a lot of the things you do each day can affect your oral health. Here’s what you should know:

We worry about keeping our teeth bright and shiny, but what about their actual health? There are many habits that we do in our daily life that could be weakening our teeth. It is critical for your overall well-being that you address these issues. Also, make sure you are having your checkups. To schedule call the professionals at West Meade Dental.

How do you drink your drink?

Believe it or not, the way you drink your drink can affect your teeth. It is actually better to drink your drinks through a straw so it has less exposure to your teeth. Also, sipping them throughout the day only makes the sugar and acids more exposed to the teeth. And what do you do with the ice afterwards? Most people will chew their ice after they finish their drink. However, this should be avoided as it puts strain on the teeth and could cause fractures.

Teeth are bones, not tools!

Many people will use their teeth when they do not have another object around. Aside from this just being unsanitary, you can chip or fracture your tooth. Next time try using scissors, nail clippers, or pliers.

Hey you! Stop grinding your teeth!

Almost as annoying as smacking your gum, grinding your teeth cannot only put stress on your teeth, but the others around you. This is usually a nervous habit that is triggered by some sort of anxiety. If you grind your teeth at night, you should look into getting a mouth guard to wear while you sleep.

What are you using to brush your teeth and how well are you doing it?

Many think that a brush with harder bristles is the way to go. This can instead cause more sensitivity to the teeth, especially when roots begin to show. Every individual is different, so ask your dentist what type of brush will be best for you. Also, you want to make sure that you are brushing and flossing properly. You should be brushing at least twice a day and changing out your toothbrush in no longer than four months. For more information on proper brushing from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, click here.

Why Does My Tooth Hurt?

Cavities are not the only cause of a toothache. Schedule an appointment with us to know what's causing the pain.

Cavities are not the only cause of a toothache. Schedule an appointment with us to know what’s causing the pain.

Most of us have experienced some type of toothache at some point in our lifetime, and the possible causes for the discomfort are numerous. At the first sign of tooth pain, many people immediately begin to fear that they have developed a cavity. It’s an understandable first impression, however, it’s also not uncommon for these same people to learn that their pain wasn’t coming from a cavity at all. A trip to the dentist is often the only way to get to the bottom of the problem.

Basic Dental Anatomy

A basic understanding of your oral anatomy will help you to better understand the source(s) of a toothache. Your teeth are alive! They have nerves and a blood supply to keep them healthy. The outer layer of your teeth, the enamel, helps to protect everything on the inside of your tooth.

Directly underneath the enamel is the dentin, another hard layer that’s composed of microscopic tubes that communicate with the nerves inside your teeth. If these tubes become exposed, it can result in an increased sensitivity to heat, cold, sweets, and/or other stimuli. The pulp houses the tooth’s nerve and blood supply. If the nerve becomes inflamed, it can become extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations.

Why do I have a Toothache?

As mentioned previously, toothaches result from a number of different causes:

  • A cavity is the result of bacteria eroding holes through the enamel of a tooth, thereby exposing the dentin and/or pulp.
  • Losing an old filling also exposes your tooth’s sensitive interior, which can cause discomfort as well.
  • A dental abscess (infection) results in a build up of pressure around the root of your tooth, which can cause varying degrees of discomfort.
  • Grinding your teeth can also cause toothaches by wearing away the enamel on your teeth and/or causing gum recession that can lead to irritation of the tissues around the teeth.
  • Gingivitis and periodontal disease (gum disease) begins with bacterial growth in your mouth that can lead to destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth if not properly treated.
  • Believe it or not, pain in your upper teeth can even be the direct result of a sinus infection.

We hope that this information serves as a jumping-off point for you if you’re experiencing any sort of oral discomfort. It’s extremely important for everyone to note, however, that it is impossible to know the absolute cause of a toothache without paying a visit to a qualified dental professional. West Meade Dental will provide you with the comprehensive dental care necessary to keep you smiling confidently for years to come. Schedule an appointment to come and see us today!

The 4 Types of Braces

There's more than one way to straighten your teeth and let your smile shine through. Know the different options for braces.

There’s more than one way to straighten your teeth and let your smile shine through. Know the different options for braces.

It’s a good time to get braces. Whatever your age or particular dental situation, there have never been more options available to you for getting the straight, perfect smile you’ve always wished for. At West Meade Dental, we believe strongly in the value of braces. Not only can they improve your self-esteem but they can lead to a lifetime of healthy dental habits, will help your teeth to wear better over time, and will make you better able to thoroughly clean your teeth. In young people, braces can even guide facial growth for a more attractive profile. We’re talking about longterm benefits that result from a short period of wearing braces.

What Type of Braces Should I Get?

There are four basic types of braces used today:

  1. Metal braces. These are the braces—made of metal brackets and wire—that we traditionally think of. If you’re picturing a mouth of full of metal, however, you may want to revise your vision. Modern brackets are much smaller and more discreet than they once were. Many children like that traditional metal braces can be accessorized with colored rubber bands or can be different colors themselves.
  2. Ceramic braces. Though ceramic braces are exactly the same size as metal braces, they are clear or “tooth-colored” so that they do a great job of blending in with your teeth. These braces are more expensive, however, and can stain if they’re not cleaned well.
  3. Lingual braces. Located behind your teeth instead of on the surface, lingual braces are less noticeable than traditional braces though many find them more uncomfortable. These braces are best for smiles that need only minor adjustments.
  4. Invisalign braces. Adults and teens are increasingly choosing Invisalign braces, which are nearly invisible and molded to fit specially to your teeth. A new mold must be made every two weeks, so that you’ll have 18 to 30 molds made over the life of your “braces.” This is a more expensive option for straightening your teeth.

Have questions about getting braces? Contact us today. Your friends at West Meade Dental are happy to get them answered. We love improving the smiles of our patients in and around Nashville, TN, and also offer teeth whitening and porcelain veneers, among other cosmetic dentistry services.

About Cavities and Fillings

A cavity can be a pain - literally! Make sure you practice proper oral hygiene and have regular dental check-ups to avoid cavities.

A cavity can be a pain – literally! Make sure you practice proper oral hygiene and have regular dental check-ups to avoid cavities.

It’s news we never like to hear during a dental visit: “You have a cavity.” But while we always want to do everything we can to prevent cavities, there’s a lot we can do to restore your teeth today if one develops, and that goes well beyond the metal fillings of yesteryear.

What is a Cavity?

The simplest explanation is that a cavity is a hole that develops in a tooth, opening it up to further damage and decay. But to understand cavities, it’s helpful to know how and why they develop.

We talk a lot about brushing and flossing to get rid of bacteria in your mouth, and it’s because that bacteria, when allowed to stay and multiply, can cause significant damage to your teeth and your gums. Bacteria can irritate and inflame gums, potentially leading to periodontal disease, and the acids produced by those bacteria can damage the enamel on your teeth as well, slowly wearing their way to a cavity. Once a cavity develops, it can’t heal on its own, and if it isn’t treated it will continue to worsen. That can lead to nerve damage, and the need for a root canal.

What We Can Do to Repair a Tooth with a Cavity

If West Meade Dental finds a cavity during a checkup, we’ll recommend immediate treatment to halt the damage. Depending on how significant your tooth decay is, that can range from a filling to a porcelain crown.

In most cases, if you’re keeping up with regular dental visits, we’ll be able to catch a cavity before more involved treatment is necessary, and we’ll recommend a filling that repairs the tooth aesthetically and functionally.

At West Meade Dental, we use tooth-colored fillings that restore your bite and protect the tooth’s nerves from further damage, but also look and feel just like the rest of your teeth. It’s a big difference from the highly noticeable gold alloy we were stuck with in decades past.

Preventing Cavities

If you do develop a cavity, West Meade Dental can help — but preventing a cavity in the first place is always our first hope. That’s why we recommend diligent oral care at home and regular visits to our office for cleanings and checkups (the frequency of recommended visits depends on your individual oral health, but in most cases, it’s every six months).

In between cleanings and checkups, you can do a lot to prevent cavities. Eating a balanced diet is important, as is following good oral health practices between meals. Rinsing with water after eating and drinking — particularly if you’ve having acidic or sugary food and drink — is always a good practice. And your daily tooth care routine should include flossing once a day, and brushing twice, using a soft-bristled brush and ADA-approved toothpaste.

To take a step further toward prevention, West Meade Dental can apply a dental sealant to coat your molars, which acts as a long-term barrier to keep bacteria from lodging and multiplying between your teeth and leading to tooth decay.

Do you have any questions about cavities or general oral health? We’re always glad to help our patients. Just give West Meade Dental a call!

What Is TMJ?

Many experience this but don't really know what it is. Let's take a closer look at TMJ.

Many experience this but don’t really know what it is. Let’s take a closer look at TMJ.

Our patients in and around Nashville who have TMJ usually come to us quite concerned about the condition, especially if it’s the first time they’ve experienced the signs and symptoms, which include radiating pain in the jaw and/or neck, in addition to stiffness, painful clicking, and limited movement of the jaw. Some patients even experience a change in the way their upper and lower teeth fit together, which can be disconcerting to say the least.

Define TMJ

TMJ is a temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder, which affects the joint that connects your lower jaw (or mandible) to the bone on the side of your head. This joint gets regular use when we eat, talk, and yawn. The pain associated with TMJ comes and goes in most patients—with or without treatment—though some sufferers may experience longer TMJ flare-ups.

The first thing we like to tell our patients is that they’re not alone. An estimated 10 million Americans suffer this condition, with more women affected than men. Trauma to the jaw is sometimes to blame for TMJ’s onset, and there’s been research about a link between female hormones and TMJ, but unfortunately not much is known about the cause of this disorder. Luckily, there are numerous treatments that have been proven to work wonders for our patients at West Meade Dental.

Treatments for TMJ

Though our dentists are all set to help you with a variety of tools (which we’ll discuss in just a minute) to ease TMJ, you may be happy to learn that there are things you can do on your own to ease the discomfort you feel. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends the following:

  1. Eat soft foods
  2. Apply an ice pack
  3. Avoid exaggerated jaw movements like yawning and chewing gum
  4. Relax and reduce stress in your life
  5. Engage in gentle jaw stretching exercises

As for how those of us at West Meade Dental can help relieve the symptoms of your TMJ, we may look at using any of the following treatments:

  • Pain medications
  • Stabilization splints
  • Botox injections
  • Surgery
  • Implants

The way we choose to address your TMJ will depend on the severity and frequency of your symptoms.

If you live in the Nashville area and are worried you may have TMJ, make an appointment with us today. We are also available to address any other dental concerns you may have or to give you a cleaning.

Say No to Cavities

Fighting Cavities

Everyone wants a bright healthy smile and to do so you must have a clean teeth routine to prevent future dental problems.  Often times when your teeth are not taken care of properly they begin to collect a sticky substance called plaque and will slowly begin to decay, leading to cavities.  Cavities can be a pain, both figuratively and literally, so if in your dental check up you are alerted you have one, make sure you have it filled immediately.  To make an appointment with the professionals call West Meade Dental today!

How can I prevent cavities?

Taking care of your teeth each day takes more than just brushing. It also means making smart food and drink choices.

Taking care of your teeth each day takes more than just brushing. It also means making smart food and drink choices.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has mentioned many great tips for mouth health.  The first step to preventing cavities is brushing your teeth.  While this may seem obvious, many people are not brushing correctly.  It is at the most importance that you brush twice a day with a paste containing fluoride.  Also, floss everyday to remove food that may be left in between teeth.  You also want to use an antimicrobial mouth rinse that will help in decreasing bacteria in the mouth.  You should also consider your diet when thinking about your teeth.  Consuming a lot of food and drink with ample amounts of sugar will stick on your teeth and cause plaque.  Lastly, chew some sugarless gum throughout the day.  Not only will the increased saliva wash away germs, but also bad breath.

Aside from the basics, there are other things you can do to make sure your smile is protected.  First, visit a dentist regularly.  Most offices and insurance companies will recommend every six months.  There they will do x-rays and check ups to check for anything that may look out of the ordinary.  Also, they will place sealant, a special coating, to all the biting areas and the back of the teeth.  This is especially important to do on children’s teeth when the permanent are growing in.

What happens if I have a cavity?

To fix a cavity, your dentist will first numb the area and remove the part of the tooth that has decayed.  Then the dentist will apply the filling material and clean and polish it.  Today, we have many types of fillings that can even be tooth colored.

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