Category Archives: cosmetic dentistry

8 tips to overcoming anxiety about going to the dentist

Dentists are around to take care of your teeth. Although you might take your teeth for granted, they’re pretty important. You use them when you speak, smile and when you eat. It’s safe to say these are all pretty pleasant activities.

But for some reason many people still dislike going to the dentist and even fear it. According to Harvard Health Publications, between 13% and 24% of people all over the world are afraid to go.

Some people feel anxiety because of a bad experience they had in the past or because they start to anticipate discomfort and fear that everything could go wrong. However, modern medicine has advanced incredibly. Even the most dreaded procedures (we’re talking to you, root canals), have been tamed, so there’s really no rational reason to fear going.To keep your gums and teeth healthy, follow these 8 tips to overcome the anxiety of going to the dentist.

To keep your gums and teeth healthy, follow these 8 tips to overcome the anxiety of going to the dentist.

1. Be honest with your dentist

The first step to building trust, reducing your anxiety and improving the overall experience is to simply be honest. Tell your dentist and the staff how you feel and your concerns. They aren’t scary monsters — they’re humans, and probably have fears of their own. They’ll do the best they can to make you feel more comfortable.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Often, fear stems from the unknown. You may start to try and fill in the foggy future by creating narratives about what might happen. Usually, your mind spirals into worst-case scenarios, even if they are actually very unlikely to happen in real life.

Instead of letting your mind wander into the dark cavities of the dental world, ask your dental assistant and dentist to walk you through what they’ll do during the procedure before you even go in. Once you’re there, ask them to explain what they’re doing as they work, too.

You might even be surprised just how much you’ll learn and how happy your dentist is to tell you what all their equipment is for. Pretty soon the procedure will seem routine, maybe even a bit repetitive, and less like your worst nightmare.

3. Go slow

Sometimes people get caught up in the people pleasing side of dentistry. Your mouth is open for most of the time, it’s difficult to speak and someone else is standing over you instructing you how to adjust your face.

It certainly can feel awkward, and you might try to just get in and get out without making waves. However, it’s actually okay to interrupt your dentist or dental assistant. Don’t forget that you’re the patient, and they want to make sure everything goes smoothly, too.

If you need to slow things down, ask a question, spit, take a break, or anything else, speak up. Sometimes people don’t feel in control when they’re in the dental chair, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

4. Try deep breathing exercises

Being able to calm yourself and get back to an emotional middle-ground is essential for any type of stress. Practice slow, deep breathing exercises before you go to the dentist and when you get there to try and maintain your equilibrium. This will also help you stay grounded in the present.

You can also practice breathing exercises when you’re with your dentist. Focusing on your breath will also draw your attention to something other than what’s going on in your mouth.

5. Bring something soothing

Sometimes focusing on your breath can be a little difficult, so you might want to take along something else that you find soothing. Bring your own music to listen to while you’re waiting or take along something to fidget with like silly putty or a hair band. You can play with it while you’re getting your teeth cleaned to distract your mind.

6. Bring backup

Having a friend or family member with you – someone you can trust – is also beneficial. Just knowing someone is there to support you can bring some relief.

7. Ask your dentist for sedatives

If you really feel unable to handle your anxiety, ask your dentist to use sedatives. They may be able to use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or local anesthetics. Actually, there are quite a few options to choose from.

Although not ideal, using these sedatives to cope with your fear is better than not ever going to the dentist at all.

8. Go to counseling

For some people, none of these tips are enough to get over their fear. If you’ve become so petrified of going to the dentist it prevents you from getting the treatment you need to stay healthy, you may have a phobia.

There’s a difference between being afraid of something and phobias, which interfere with your daily life and go far beyond anxiety. If you really can’t go to the dentist because of a phobia, it may be a good idea to seek counseling to try and master it.

Dentists don’t want to inspire fear; they want to help. If you let them, they can work with you to make sure those pearly whites are healthy for years to come. So, what are you waiting for?

Dentist: Yes, we do notice your teeth when you’re talking

Dr. David Gordon knows most people aren’t fans of the dentist. He said there isn’t a day that goes by at his office, Logan Peak Dental Care, when he doesn’t hear at least one patient say they aren’t happy to be there.

Luckily for his patients, Gordon knows not to take the comments personally. Instead, he’ll strive to make his patients as comfortable as possible while they’re in his care.

“I think beyond helping people’s oral health, I enjoy being able to make a difference in people’s lives,” Gordon said. “Unlike a lot of medical professionals, dentists see their patients often enough to develop strong friendships, to watch kids grow up. I see that as one of the most rewarding parts of my profession.”

Here are Gordon’s Top 3 things dentists want people to know about them:

No. 1: Yes, we’re always staring at people’s teeth, even when we’re not working.

David Gordon: That’s actually not a misconception. I do stare at people’s teeth a lot. Of course, I don’t say anything, but you can tell a lot about a person’s teeth just by looking at them.

I can sometimes see decay on people’s teeth. Oftentimes there will be a dark shadow underneath the enamel, and that’s usually indicative of something deeper going on. I can tell a decent amount about someone’s regular oral hygiene just by seeing their gums at the front. If they’re red and inflamed, obviously there’s something going on there.

But I probably can’t see as much as people think I can see just from a quick smile. I can’t tell someone’s oral hygiene history entirely by just a quick glance, but it’s something that I’ll always notice.

Herald Journal: Do you see people become self-conscious about their breath as well?

DG: You know, I hear an awful lot from people who say to me, “I could never do your job.” One of the main reasons they say that is because they hate the smell of bad breath. I don’t like the smell of bad breath; I’m no different from anybody else. What I do enjoy is that I get to help people fix that problem. It’s very gratifying to have a patient come to me in a poor state of oral health and a few weeks later is much, much better.

People do get self-conscious about their breath, but I usually have a mask on anyway. Oftentimes, I don’t pick up on it, so it’s nothing most people really need to stress out about much.

No. 2: There’s a lot more creativity involved in dentistry than you might think.

Gordon: There’s a saying in dentistry that has almost become sort of cliche, that dentistry is a blend of art and science. It’s true that a lot of what we do is science-based, just like any other health profession, but we’re also dealing with little, tiny sculptures inside people’s mouths.

There’s a lot of spatial awareness that dentists have to possess. One portion of the entrance exam into dentistry school, the Dentist’s Admissions Test, is about perceptual ability — your ability to picture what a shape looks like and being able to turn it around in your head without being able to manipulate it in person.

There’s some creative skill required in a lot of what I do. Before I went to medical school, I didn’t know that I needed to possess that creative side. As dentistry became more appealing to me, I discovered that about myself — I enjoy creating stuff and making new things for people. For example, after I finished dental school, I began baking cakes for my kids. I thought it would be fun to try out, and it turns out that I have a bit of a knack for it.

HJ: What’s more difficult between working on people’s teeth and baking cakes?

DG: (Laughs) Dentistry for sure. When I make mistakes in dentistry it’s a lot more serious, but making cakes is just a fun thing I can experiment with.

No. 3: Most dentists know you don’t like coming to see them, but we’re still happy to help.

DG: I do get discouraged a little bit, but if I really let something like that get to me, I would need serious therapy. I get told at least once a day that people hate coming to see me.

I understand that dentistry can be an emotional thing for people. It can be especially scary when you’re a child, and it’s something unfamiliar, and it can leave a very long-lasting, deep wound into people. Even as an adult, people have a difficult time getting over that.

So I do what I can to cater to that feeling and make it better. I do whatever I can to go out of my way to make this as enjoyable an experience as I possibly can do for you.

Everybody thinks that dentists have the highest suicide rate because of what they do, but that’s not true at all. Not even close. It’s a myth that has been passed down. In general, dentists are pretty happy with what they do.

The Top Dentist-Approved Ways to Whiten Teeth

It was 1999 when Friends’ Ross Geller famously bleached his teeth to glow-in-the-dark effect-giving beauty writers everywhere rich fodder for years to come. So poignant was that reference, so timeless, that it continues to pervade the teeth-whitening realm nearly two decades later. We’re forever in pursuit of that ageless, immaculate smile-one that appears both unreal yet totally natural. And, mercifully, our whitening options have evolved right along with the American sitcom. (Death to the laugh track!) We asked top cosmetic dentists on both coasts for their favorite smile-brightening strategies-so you can yuk it up with complete confidence.

The Instant In-Office Fix

The fastest and most tech-forward whitening method offered by dentists, the Philips Zoom WhiteSpeed combines a 25 percent hydrogen peroxide bleach with a supercharged blue LED light, which speeds the destruction of stains, so you’re out of the chair within an hour-smiling brighter than you did at check-in. (Just how much brighter is debatable: Some dentists say one to four shades, others claim up to eight. It really depends on your starting point-as “everyone has her own natural shade of white,” says New York City dentist Victoria Veytsman-and your affinity for tannin-rich Bordeaux and French roast.)

Upon illumination, the peroxide releases oxygen molecules, which penetrate the tooth enamel to dissolve deep-set stains. Because “the light doesn’t heat up the teeth as much as the lasers traditionally used in whitening, there’s less sensitivity,” says Marc Lowenberg, a cosmetic dentist in New York City. Plus, “peroxide concentrations have increased, so we can bleach the teeth in about a third of the time it previously took.”

Though the Zoom system is outfitted with adjustable settings for comfort control, Veytsman says about one in 10 people still experience minor sensitivity-what dentists call “zingers”-during or after treatment. To help improve the odds, and curtail those sharp, stinging sensations, dentists paint a masking agent over the gums and any areas of recession before starting. The procedure is then divided into three 15-minute cycles. “We’ll sometimes do just one cycle on someone who’s very sensitive, or maybe two, but usually not all three,” says Kevin Sands, a Beverly Hills dentist whose appointment book boasts names like Kardashian, Bieber, and Longoria. Docs typically apply a desensitizing gel right after whitening, as well, to counter any lingering zings in the 24 hours following.

Dentist Shares Nutrition Tips for Healthy Teeth

Nutrition impacts the health of your teeth in many important ways. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep your pearly-whites free from decay, shared by Dr. Andrew Koenigsberg, a dentist in New York City.

Avoid Sugar and Acid

Sugar and especially refined sugar is digested by the bacterial plaque on teeth to form acid. The smallest amount of sugar, (think a Tic Tac or a small amount of sugar in coffee), creates an acidic environment in the mouth for a couple of hours. This acidic environment softens teeth and makes them susceptible to decay. Acidic drinks and foods, including fruit, also create an acidic environment, making teeth susceptible to erosion, abrasion, and weakening (attrition), as well as decay.

“So there are some foods that we all know that are acidic: lemons, limes, oranges. And what I’ve seen people think is ‘the minute I eat them, let me go and brush my teeth and try to remove it,’ which is absolutely the worst thing they can do,” said Sharon Richter, a registered dietitian, in an interview on Floss Talk, a program hosted by Dr. Koenigsberg, a New York City dentist and owner of Gallery 57 Dental.

Brushing immediately after eating an acidic food is ill advised, according to Richter, because the acid would be forced into the teeth by the brushing action. It is ideal to wait for two hours after having an acidic food to allow saliva to neutralize the acids in one’s mouth.

Be Careful With Drinks

Many common drinks such as carbonated beverages and sports drinks can be highly acidic and can cause teeth to erode. In general, coffee and tea are less acidic and while they may stain teeth, will not cause erosion. Of course, adding lemon, one of the most acidic fruits, can change that. Many of these beverages also contain sugar making them even more cariogenic (able to cause cavities).

Eat Meals Not Snacks

If sugary and acidic foods and drinks are going to be consumed, it is best to do so with meals and then allow the saliva to neutralize the acid over the next couple of hours. If not challenged by new acid, saliva can reverse the effects of acid. This is challenging for many people who snack frequently as even “healthy” snacks often contain sugar. Nuts and many vegetables are a good choice as they have minimal sugar and are not acidic.

Best Time to Brush

It is better not to brush immediately after eating and drinking as the tooth is softest and the most susceptible to abrasion when exposed to acid. Of course, excellent brushing and flossing reduce the amount of plaque that is available to convert sugar into acid so effective oral hygiene is important. The ideal time to thoroughly remove plaque is after eating and drinking is done for the day and before going to sleep when the saliva slows down.

Should I Take Supplements to Strengthen My Teeth?

There are some common misconceptions surrounding the benefits of certain foods, vitamins and supplements in terms of their impact on tooth and gum health.

Calcium, while important for children whose teeth are forming, does not play a large role in the dental health of adults whose teeth are already formed. Even osteoporosis has minimal impact on the bones that hold the teeth in place (alveolar bones).

Proper, balanced nutrition is important for healthy gums and saliva; however, there is little evidence for specific dietary additions.

People suffering from “dry mouth,” a common side effect of many medications, should consult with a dentist and/or nutritionist to come up with a plan to keep the mouth moist without creating an acidic environment. Unfortunately, many people with dry mouth use tart, sugary lozenges to stimulate the saliva, which can lead to extensive decay.

Tips for teeth care during the holiday season

According to Lizabeth Spoonts, associate clinical professor of dental hygiene at Texas Woman’s University, there are ways for your teeth to survive the sweets and snacks associated with season’s eatings.

Spoonts says cavities are caused by eating foods high in sugar or carbohydrates, which are consumed by the bacteria in our mouths. These bacteria produce acid that leads to caries, or cavities, in the teeth. She suggests some tips, based on the American Dental Association guidelines, for a cavities-free holiday:


Importance Of Dental Care During Pregnancy Discussed.

Pregnancy Magazine (11/23) discussed the importance of ensuring good oral health during pregnancy, stating that pregnancy may cause oral health changes, such as gingivitis and swollen areas between the teeth. The article encourages moms-to-be to “never skip a teeth cleaning” and practice good oral hygiene. offers additional information on pregnancy and oral health.

Gum Disease Can Worsen Pain For Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers

Dental Asia (9/30) reports on the ways in which poor dental hygiene and gum disease can contribute to and worsen rheumatoid arthritis. By testing gum disease strains on arthritic mice, researchers found that Porphyromonas bacteria made the mice’s joint pain worse. Dental Asia recommends that people with rheumatoid arthritis who wish to prevent gum disease use a moving toothbrush, rinse their mouth with mouthwash, quit smoking, and eat a healthy and clean diet.

HouseBeautiful Recommends ADA Toothbrush Storage Guidelines.

HouseBeautiful (9/19, Piro) included storing a toothbrush in the medicine cabinet among its list of “common bathroom mistakes.” Storing a toothbrush in a cabinet or container may prevent it from drying between uses, “creating a welcome environment for bacteria.” The article notes “the American Dental Association recommends storing toothbrushes in an upright position, and not touching other brushes, to mitigate the risk of cross-contamination.” and the Oral Health Topics on provide additional information on toothbrush care for patients and dental professionals.