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Toothbrush: A Dental Care Innovation

Imagine what life would be like without this to brighten our smiles and keep our mouths healthy?

Imagine what life would be like without this to brighten our smiles and keep our mouths healthy?

Arguably, no dental innovation has had a more far-reaching impact than the toothbrush. The toothbrush is an essential tool that is used for the care of our teeth. Have you ever missed brushing your teeth for one day? Have you ever considered what it would be like without the toothbrush? Like many common household items, we give little thought about the origins or the trials and tribulations these products went through to arrive in the form we see in store’s today. The toothbrush is certainly no exception.

The Origins of the Toothbrush

Unlike the majority of other common household items, there is no single person credited as being the sole inventor of the toothbrush. It would seem as though the toothbrush actually evolved over time and mainly out of necessity. Traces of the first toothbrush have been dated back to the Egyptians and Babylonians, making the toothbrush one of the oldest devices still used by man. This particular version was nothing more than a stick, upon which the individual would chew until the fibers of the wood formed a brush; the sticks were believed to have healing and antiseptic qualities.

The Bristles Make All the Difference

The Chinese are credited with inventing the first bristle toothbrush, similar to the type used today. They took the hairs of Siberian wild boar and manipulated them onto bamboo sticks, one of the most common plants from that region. The sticks were then used just like a modern manual toothbrush to clean the teeth. The biggest drawback to the boar hairs was the fact that it was extremely rough on the gums. Once this iteration of the toothbrush made its way to Europe, some people began to use hair from the backs of horses, as it was much gentler on the gums.

Bristles Come Full Circle

Animal hair bristles remained in use until 1937, when Wallace Carothers created nylon in the DuPont laboratories. One year later, the first nylon toothbrush — the Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush — was created. After World War II, Americans began to become more concerned about oral hygiene. Brushing teeth regularly became popular in the U.S. after soldiers returned home and brought with them their strict habits of brushing their teeth. This influence prompted the development of more advanced toothbrushes and helped bring oral hygiene into the mainstream.

Over the centuries, the toothbrush has seen many changes in designs and materials used. The brands, styles and colors of toothbrushes are virtually endless. Now the toothbrush is a scientific instrument, which comes in diverse colors, shapes and sizes. It’s a tool with modern ergonomic designs and safe hygienic materials. The toothbrush has stood the test of time, thus earning the title of being the cornerstone of proper oral hygiene.

All About Kids & Dental Care

Let your children grow up without fearing their dentists and dental care. Provide them with an experience they'll enjoy.

Let your children grow up without fearing their dentists and dental care. Provide them with an experience they’ll enjoy.

We see it often: Parents who have had a bad experience at the dentist during their own childhood or who have had any traumas in their own dental history are especially cautious about their childrens’ first experiences at the dentist office. The good news is that dental phobia doesn’t have to be bequeathed to your children.

At West Meade Dental, we take childrens’ dentistry very seriously, though your kids won’t know that. For them, we make it a point to keep things light and easy, making things amusing with take-home (sugarless) treats and fun toothbrushes, with cartoons and silly face masks, all while teaching healthy dental habits that we hope will last for a lifetime.

Overcoming a Child’s Fear of Dentists

We know that how your child feels about going to the dentist is generally shaped by their first few visits. When approached thoughtlessly, that first visit can be frightening, but at West Meade Dental Dr. Shelley A. Sigur and all of our hygienists specialize in easing fears and making children feel comfortable and relaxed—during that first visit and every visit thereafter.

So if you’re a parent who wants to make sure that his or her child begins a healthy lifelong relationship with the dentist, you’ve come to the right place. Our goal is to get children excited about dental health and equip them with the knowledge to make healthy choices and develop healthy habits even at a young age.

5 Facts About Kids and Dental Care

Below you’ll find a handful of facts about pediatric dental care, with the information sourced from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

  1. It is recommended that children visit the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and check-up.
  2. Tooth decay, which manifests itself in the form of cavities, is the most common childhood disease. Each year hundreds of thousands of children have cavities that go untreated.
  3. Babies get cavities from bacteria that’s passed from their caregiver’s mouth into their own. This happens by sharing spoons, by testing food prior to feedings, and by cleaning off a pacifier with yourmouth instead of warm water. Right off the bat, avoid sharing saliva with your baby to keep cavity-causing bacteria out of his mouth.
  4. It’s never too early to begin cleaning your child’s teeth. As soon as they appear, you can start brushing them with a tiny amount of fluoridated toothpaste and a small, soft toothbrush. For children aged 2 to 5, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient.
  5. In spite of some misinformation out there, there is very little risk involved with dental X-rays. That said, most dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation that children are exposed to by using lead aprons and high-speed film.

No matter what dental needs you or your child have, West Meade Dental is prepared to meet them. We are proud to offer a wide range of dental services.

A Lifetime of Care

Whether or not we will actually get to provide dental care to your child throughout his life, we will make sure that his or her relationship with the dentist gets off to a great start so that it will usher in a lifetime of healthy dental care. The staff at West Meade Dental is committed to providing a relaxing and friendly atmosphere to children in the Nashville, Tennessee, area. At West Meade, you and your child will never be treated like a number. We make it a point to listen to all of our patients and customize each visit to each individual. Learn more about us here.


The Damage Smoking Can Do

We don’t need to tell you that smoking is bad for your health. But since we help current and former smokers deal with the damage smoking causes to their teeth on a daily basis at West Meade Dental, we figure it’s worth talking about some of the specific dental problems that come along with cigarettes.

Smoking can damage your beautiful smile and cause serious health problems.

Smoking can damage your beautiful smile and cause serious health problems.

How Smoking Affects Dental Health

The Nicotine and tar in cigarettes each take their toll on teeth. Tar contributes considerably to the yellow and brown staining many smokers complain about. Nicotine brings along far more serious issues too.

Nicotine directly affects the blood vessels in your mouth, minimizing the blood flow to your gums and the bone that supports your teeth. That does two particularly bad things: It limits your body’s ability to fight infection there, and hides the response to infection, so you’re potentially unaware of the problem until it gets more serious. Nicotine also affects your saliva, minimizing its ability to dull acids that come from the foods we eat. Add that all up, and you have the recipe for serious tooth trouble.

Let’s Talk About Gum (Or Periodontal) Disease

You’ve likely heard the term “gum disease” plenty of times through the years, from your dentist or in mouthwash and toothpaste commercials. But here are some specifics about gum disease (or periodontal disease) that are well worth knowing about, particularly if you’re a smoker.

– If you’re diagnosed with periodontal disease, it means that you have an infection in your gum tissue and/or the bones supporting your teeth. And like any infection, if it isn’t dealt with, it’ll spread and get worse.

– Symptoms can include persistent bad breath, red and swollen gums, receding or bleeding gums, even loose or lost teeth.

– In its milder form (Gingivitus), the infection is more confined to the tissue in your gums, and since sufferers usually don’t experience pain, it’s common that it goes unchecked and untreated. With more serious periodontal disease, or Periodontitis, the bone that holds your teeth can be affected, leading to tooth loss.

– You’re more likely to have periodontal disease if you smoke. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a little over eight percent of adults ages 20 to 64 surveyed were periodontal disease sufferers. If you’re looking at current smokers, the percentage is almost twice as high.

What West Meade Dental Can Do To Help

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your dental health. If you’re dealing with damage brought on by smoking, there are some things West Meade Dental can do to help you.

Professional Cleaning
During a cleaning, we can remove plaque and tartar buildup to limit the likelihood of gum separation and gum disease.

Teeth Whitening and Porcelain Veneers
Tooth yellowing or discoloration from smoking doesn’t have to be permanent. In a lot of cases, we can whiten your smile considerably and make you feel more comfortable and more confident with our professional teeth whitening services. More significantly stained teeth that are still relatively healthy could benefit from porcelain veneers, which attach to the front of your teeth to bring a bright new appearance.

Other Cosmetic Dentistry
If you’ve lost teeth due to gum disease or other issues, West Meade Dental can bring your smile back. We specialize in porcelain crowns and bridges, implants and full or partial dentures, and we can tell you what approach will work best for your needs.

If you have any questions about the effects of smoking on dental health, don’t hesitate to call West Meade Dental – we’re always glad to help.

Common Oral Care Mistakes

Common Oral Care Mistakes

ToothbrushHey, we all make mistakes, don’t we? That’s usually how we learn valuable life lessons. But what about the mistakes you don’t know you’re making? We’ve pulled together a list of common mistakes people make with their mouth—not the foot-in-mouth kind, though. Sorry, we can’t do anything about that.

It’s all about what you eat—and don’t eat. We all know that sweets are bad for us, but come on—how can we possibly avoid that delicious looking treat? It’s probably impossible to entirely avoid sugary foods, so if you have to indulge, try doing so after a meal. This reduces acid producing bacteria in the mouth that wears away enamel. And while we’re on the subject of food—eat your fruits and veggies. They have vitamins and minerals that help strengthen your teeth.

A few more food-related tips:

  • DO: Chew sugar-free gum
  • DON’T: Avoid chewing hard things like ice or popcorn kernels
  • DO: Swish with water after every meal

Dehydration. Foods aren’t the only thing that can give your teeth a hard time. Make sure you avoid drinking high-acid or sugary liquids, and instead drink plenty of water. Your body isn’t the only thing that needs water—your teeth do, too. Drink water after a meal to clean the mouth and wash away bacteria.

Bad brushing habits. Bad habits are hard to break, but it’s worth the extra effort to break these habits.

  • Brushing too soon. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating to brush – food acids weaken enamel. Brushing immediately after eating doesn’t allow the enamel enough time to harden back up.
  • Brushing too hard or too often. This can expose and irritate the roots of your teeth and cause dental problems and tooth sensitivity. We recommend using soft bristle toothbrushes only, to help avoid scraping the enamel off of your teeth.
  • Not brushing long enough. Ok, so maybe this sounds like the opposite of what we just said, but quality and quantity go hand in hand here. We all hurry from one thing to the next in life, especially getting ready for work in the morning, but this is one area of your life you really don’t want to rush. Using a soft-bristle toothbrush, be sure to brush thoroughly for at least 2 minutes.
  • Boring brushing. Spice up that brushing experience and don’t make every brushing session the same. Start in different places of the mouth to provide a more balanced teeth cleaning. 
  • And one more thing: don’t ignore the Pink. Your tongue doesn’t just get this party started—it’s also a nice warm bed for bacteria growth. Make sure your tongue is getting its fair share of attention during routine brushing.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention floss. Do it. Every day. Now don’t get all carried away and be aggressive about it, either. Be gentle, but diligent.

And last, the thing you’ve been avoiding—DON’T put off that dental cleaning. Neglecting to have your teeth taken care of by a dentist is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to oral health. So get busy, and schedule that cleaning.

By Shelley Sigur | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Brighten Your Smile

Time to Flash That Radiant White Smile

Do you dream of having perfectly white and sparkling teeth? We all want that radiant smile that can truly change the mood of every individual that catches a glimpse of it. But the truth is, no one can ever have white teeth on their own. There are many things that we put in our mouths that causes the discoloration of our teeth—something we cannot avoid. The only way we can have those pearl-like teeth is if we seek the assistance of cosmetic dentists; experts at making our teeth white. That’s what our mission is here at West Meade Dental Services. We offer the best technology for you to confidently flash that oh-so-beautiful pearly whites.

There are many teeth whitening over-the-counter products...but none of them work as effectively as the process we use at West Meade Dental.

There are many teeth whitening over-the-counter products…but none of them work as effectively as the process we use at West Meade Dental.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Basically, teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them lighter. It is impossible to do star-bright white teeth but it’s absolutely possible to brighten it up to several shades.

Because of the technology available today, there are whitening kits that are a Do-It-Yourself thing which look very convincing and may leave you thinking that they truly work. Let me tell you this before any advertisement will fool you—it will not work. Making teeth seem lighter uses a special kind of equipment only licensed dentists, like us, can use. Anything else is ineffective, useless and a waste of your hard-earned money. There are also beauty salons that perform teeth whitening methods but this is actually illegal.

The Procedure

This procedure can be long-term and can also be a one-time thing. In most cases, you will have a number of appointments with the dentist for months at a time. What we usually do for your first meet-up is to check your teeth if they are in good condition for teeth whitening right away. Some need to go through other dental procedures because of a defect on the tooth or the gums. In any case, we have to make sure that your teeth are in excellent condition. Then, we will make an impression of your teeth and give you bleaching gel that you can take home and which you can apply yourself (because it needs to stay there for hours at a time for the procedure to become effective)

On the other hand, we also offer laser teeth whitening, commonly known as power whitening. This just usually takes an hour. What happens in this procedure is that we apply a stronger version of bleaching gel, apply it on your teeth then followed by our laser equipment to activate the solution in your teeth.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call and we can talk about your dental care needs especially your desire of getting beautifully white teeth. Here at West Meade Dental Services, we offer only the best for you.

Beware of Gum Disease

What You Need to Know About Gum Disease

Are you having trouble eating properly because you’re tooth hurts? Have you experienced brushing your teeth for the fifth consecutive time already but still your breath smells bad? It’s time you learn why this is happening and how you can prevent this from worsening.

Periodontal or gum disease is the inflammation of the soft tissue and the loss of fragile bones surrounding your teeth and gums. The usual symptoms of gum disease is bad breath and bleeding due to sensitive gums .This is caused by the accumulation of bacteria found in “plaque”; a clear sticky substance produced by the mouth. The bacteria feed on the food you put in your mouth thus producing harmful toxins. These toxins irritate your gums making them bleed every time you brush.

If your gums are swollen or bleeding, it is time to schedule a visit with your dentist. This is a symptom of gingivitis, which can develop into gum disease.

If your gums are swollen or bleeding, it is time to schedule a visit with your dentist. This is a symptom of gingivitis, which can develop into gum disease.

This “plaque” can harden, if not properly cleaned by a dentist. This can then transform itself to become tartar or calculus which can worsen the irritation and slowly pull your teeth away from each other. If left unattended, this can cause gingivitis which is characterized by swollen gums and massive bleeding. This is milder compared to periodontitis where your teeth might eventually get loose and need immediate removal.

Aside from the main cause of gum disease which is “plaque”, other factors can cause this as well. If you think that smoking can only affect your lungs, you’re wrong. It can also affect your mouth as well. The hazardous chemicals it has can cause your gums to swell.

Poor nutrition and stress can also put you at risk. Because you’re not getting the right amount of nutrition in your body, it makes it hard for your immune system to fight the infection in your gums.

Medications also affect your susceptibility to this disease. Drugs like antidepressants, oral contraceptives and over the counter prescriptions can affect your oral health. This reduces the production of saliva in your mouth which serves as protection to your gum line. Your mouth then becomes vulnerable to infection. Some medicines cause abnormal growth of gum tissue thus making it harder to keep them clean.

There are some, despite all the necessary precautions made, who are genetically susceptible to the disease. This is a matter of a long line of ancestors with the same problem. This can still be prevented by thorough check-ups and regular cleaning from your dentist.

Legacy Hill Dentistry provides the best of health care services in dentistry with their state of the art equipment and tools. They are composed of a team of excellent dental hygienists that can clean and fix the damages of gum disease; making sure it can never happen again. They have been serving the people of Smyrna, Tennessee since 1995 and have since become the choice of many satisfied customers. You are sure to leave with a pearly white smile on your face.

What is a Root Canal?

I Need a Root Canal?!?

If you’ve been told that a root canal is in your future, fear not.  Take solace in knowing that you are not alone.  Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal treatment.  Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort involved; it generally involves one or two visits to your dentist’s office.  Best of all, the procedure can save your tooth and your smile.

To best understand a root canal procedure, it helps to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of the tooth.  Inside your tooth, under the white enamel and dentin (another hard layer), is a soft tissue called the pulp.  The pulp is home to blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue; it helps to grow the root of your tooth during development.  A fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth itself will continue to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

Root canals have been unfairly used as a way to scare patients away from good oral care. If the dentist says you need one, they are simply trying to save a tooth.

Root canals have been unfairly used as a way to scare patients away from good oral care. If the dentist says you need one, they are simply trying to save a tooth.

A root canal treats the inside of the tooth and is necessary when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp becomes inflamed or damaged.  The inflammation or infection can stem from a variety of causes: decay, repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, faulty crowns, and/or a crack or chip in the tooth.  In addition, trauma to a tooth may also cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks.  If the inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause severe pain and/or lead to an abscessed tooth (a pus-filled pocket that occurs at the end of the roots of the tooth).

During the actual root canal procedure itself, the inflamed or damaged pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned thoroughly before being disinfected.  The tooth is then filled and sealed.  Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for additional protection.  After the entire process is completed, the tooth continues to function much like any other tooth in your mouth.

This process helps you maintain your natural smile, allows you to continue eating the foods you love, and limits the need for ongoing dental work.  With proper care, most teeth that have undergone a root canal can last as long as the other natural teeth in your mouth.  Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful.  Most patients report that the procedure itself isn’t anymore painful than getting a filling.  The actual discomfort comes during the period before the individual decides to call the dentist.  So what are you waiting for?  Call to make your appointment today!

Teeth Aren’t Meant to Grind

To Brux or Not To Brux?

Believe it or not, we didn’t make that word up. That would be Shakespearean, and well…we’re not in the business of crafting words—we’re happy with crafting confident smiles. Bruxism is actually the term used to describe the condition of grinding your teeth, and it turns out it’s not really a choice at all.

Most teeth grinding takes place during sleep. If this only happens once in a while, there’s not a lot to worry about, but if you’re a chronic tooth grinder, it can lead to big problems: damaged teeth, TMJ or other jaw conditions, headaches, and more. The tricky thing about being a teeth-grinder is that it’s pretty hard to catch yourself in the act. There are, however, symptoms to watch for that might indicate you have a problem with grinding your teeth at night.

Grinding one's teeth is also called bruxism. Stress and anxiety can make it worse.

Grinding one’s teeth is also called bruxism. Stress and anxiety can make it worse.

A dental examination can help determine if you are suffering from bruxism. If you notice that your teeth look worn down or chipped, or that your jaw is tired when you wake up in the morning, this could indicate a problem. Other symptoms include headaches, earaches, or facial pain. Sometimes teeth grinding can also cause your tooth enamel to wear down and expose deeper layers of your tooth, which will also increase sensitivity.

There’s a lot of debate about what causes this condition, but there are plenty of things that are on the suspect list. Not surprisingly, stress and anxiety top the list as number one suspects. A lot of Americans suffer from stress, which leads to tension everywhere in the body, and the jaw can be one of the many places afflicted by stress tension. Some types of antidepressants can have side effects that cause bruxism. Problems with sleep can be an issue as well—teeth grinding can be related to disrupted sleep cycles. There are also physical problems that play a part—alignment issues, such as malocclusion, or missing and/or crooked teeth.

If you think you might be grinding your teeth, it’s important to see a dentist. There are steps we can take to stop the problem before it causes too much damage. The jaw is a powerful tool and when clenched it can apply up to 250 pounds of pressure. Think of the things you can crack with that amount of pressure!

At West Meade Dental, we’re able to offer not only a variety of services, but many options for paying for your service, as well. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Keeping up with dental examinations and hygiene can determine a lot of risk factors before they become a real problem.

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Daily Care for Teeth

Everyday Habits for Healthy Teeth

No one likes having problems with their teeth. Whether it is aesthetics or something more serious there are a litany of problems that can affect your teeth. For most people these problems are only a concern once they happen but taking the proper preventative steps can keep you from every having to deal with them at all. With peoples’ busy schedules getting busier all the time sometimes basic oral hygiene can fall by the wayside. As people fall asleep at their computers at night or wake up late for work proper brushing techniques are being discarded like the floss they should be using! This is however no excuse and for many people this lack of attention to their pearly whites will lead to preventable problems in the future. For some they may simply have forgotten the brushing basics but have no fear.

Yes. You should be brushing. And flossing. These two simple activities can save you a lot of money and pain later on.

Yes. You should be brushing. And flossing. These two simple activities can save you a lot of money and pain later on.

Here is a refresher:

The first thing to know about any job is that you must have the proper equipment to get it done. It is prudent to replace your brush every 3 – 4 months (sooner if the bristles are frayed). This will make sure that the brush is getting to all the spots it is designed to get to. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day (morning and evening) however if you only brush once it should be at night before you go to sleep. Otherwise your teeth will stew in whatever you have eaten that day all night. It’s not a pretty picture but it is the truth!

When you brush it is important to get to every tooth. Move the brush in small circles on every surface of every tooth. This is especially important near the gumline where plaque can buildup. Once this is done for every tooth rinse your mouth and move on to flossing. When flossing it is important that you have enough floss to get the job done. 18 inches of floss is the standard recommendation. Make sure to floss in between every set of teeth. This also includes the back molars on both sides even though there is not a tooth on the other side. This will help eliminate food particles that may have gotten stuck in between your teeth. It is best to rinse your mouth with water after this to get any floating particles that may be lef

Once you have brushed and flossed you may think you are done but there is one other step that many people do not do. Rinse your mouth out with mouthwash. This not only serves to freshen your breath but also will help dis-infect your mouth. An alcohol based mouthwash will help clear the bacteria away from any cuts or sores in your mouth as well which can help prevent disease (not only of the mouth but other diseases and infections as well).

It may seem simple but these steps go a long way in promoting a healthy mouth and a pretty smile. If you ever need any extra motivation get online and look up gum disease and some of the other problems (and solutions) an unhealthy mouth must face. I promise you’ll be furiously brushing in no time!

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All About Veneers

William Hazlitt once wrote “A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.” We rely on our mouths to communicate even when we aren’t speaking. A smile can mean many things and can accomplish quite a bit but what if you are one of the many people who weren’t born with perfect, straight, white teeth? Unfortunately too many beautiful smiles are hidden by people who find themselves self-conscious about the state of their teeth. Whether it is a discolored tooth, gaps or spacing, or you simply want a whiter smile there are many ways to improve the appearance of your smile. One of the most common ways to make your smile brighter is to have your dentist apply veneers to your teeth.

Feeling confident about yourself is so important and feeling good about your smile makes it possible.

Feeling confident about yourself is so important and feeling good about your smile makes it possible.

Veneers are very thin layers of ceramic or porcelain bonded with your real teeth to give them a cleaner more vibrant outward appearance. The process is virtually pain-free and usually requires no anesthesia. Usually this can be done in three appointments: diagnosis, preparation, and the actual application. The first step in the process is to buff the existing teeth slightly to allow for the additional layer. Once this is done a mold will be taken of the teeth and sent off for the veneers to be made.

Once the process of crafting the veneers is complete the dentist begins aligning them on your teeth to make sure that they fit and are the appropriate color and size. Once this is verified the dentist will begin painting the cement onto the first tooth and applying the veneers. A special beam of light is used to harden the cement to complete the bond.

It may take some time to adjust to the new size and shape of your teeth. It is important to take extra care of your new teeth to make sure they stay the nice pearly white that they have become. Brush twice a day and floss (which should be standard practice anyways). You will have a follow-up appointment to check the bonding of the veneers.

While veneers are not perfect replicas of your real teeth they do go a long way in making your smile look brighter and neater. It is important to maintain them just as you would your normal teeth. While veneers may not be the answer for everyone’s dental difficulties for some they make all the difference. Before you know it you will be smiling with a new confidence.

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