Handling a Dental Emergency While Traveling

October 15, 2017

Filed under: Blog,General — Tags: — southlakedental @ 3:31 pm

With the holidays right around the corner, many people will be planning to travel to visit family and friends in other parts of the country. If you are one of them, you will be making a list and checking it twice to be sure that you are prepared for your trip. One potential pitfall that you might not be prepared for is a toothache or a lost filling while on your vacation. While we hope you don’t need it, here’s a list of things you can do if you experience a dental emergency while traveling.

Take an OTC Painkiller

If you are dealing with a toothache, the fastest and easiest course of action is often to take a painkiller. If you can take ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil), that’s usually the best for reducing pain and inflammation. If not, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a good substitute. Follow the directions on the bottle and if you are taking any other medications, talk to the pharmacist at the store you go to to get the pills.

Look for Temporary Dental Filling Material

If you’ve lost a filling or a crown, dental filling material is available at most pharmacies. Look in the toothpaste aisle. This is a type of temporary cement that will reduce discomfort and smooth out the tooth (or hold the crown on for several days). Do keep in mind that this is only a temporary solution and that you will need to see your dentist when you get back.

Monitor for Signs of Infection

A toothache or a lost filling can turn into an infection, so it’s important to be aware of the signs. Swelling of the jaw, excessive pain, and a fever are all symptoms that you need to see a professional. In this case, the best course of action is to try to be seen by a local dentist. If it’s a weekend and no dentists are available, an urgent care center or, as a last resort, an emergency room can give you antibiotics if an infection is to blame.

Call Our Office

If you are traveling and you experience a dental emergency, we can advise you on what to do if the above options aren’t improving the situation. Also, we can make you an appointment for the day after you return home so we can get the problem addressed in a more permanent manner.

Dentures vs. Implants: What’s the Right Choice for You?

October 1, 2017

Filed under: Blog,Dental Health,General — Tags: , , , — southlakedental @ 2:23 pm

If you’ve had several teeth removed or you’re facing an upcoming extraction, you need to think about how you will replace the teeth. Two of the most common options are dentures and implants. How do you know which is better for you? Only your dentist knows your specific circumstances, but here are some considerations to keep in mind.


One of your primary concerns might be cost. If you have many teeth that need to be replaced, than dentures will cost substantially less than implants. You should talk to your dental office’s financial administrator to find out what the cost difference will be. Also, find out whether your dental insurance will cover any of it. There might be payment plans to consider, too. Get all of the details before you make a decision based solely on the price.


Once your implants heal, all you need to do is treat them like natural teeth. They stay in your mouth permanently and just need to be brushed and flossed. With dentures, you’ll need to take them out each evening to clean them. You also might need to avoid certain foods that are difficult to eat with dentures.

Ease of Use

Dental implants function like natural teeth. You can speak, whistle, chew, bite, and do everything you do with the teeth you’ve had your whole life to this point. Dentures have a bit of a learning curve. They can slip a bit and you might have a hard time whistling or biting into certain foods. Some of this will be overcome as you get used to them.

Your Dentist’s Recommendation

If you don’t have a lot of bone available, dental implants might not be an option for you. Also, there might be reasons why dentures won’t be your best option. Because your dentist knows your specific anatomy and challenges, he or she can best advise you on which type of tooth replacement is appropriate for you.

Keep in mind that some people choose to have one or more implants placed to give full dentures something to snap onto. This is a great way to maximize the benefits of both types of appliances. You can enjoy better stability of the dentures while minimizing the cost of the dental implants.

If you need your teeth replaced and aren’t sure what to do, please call us today to schedule an appointment.

Foods That Strengthen Teeth

July 1, 2017

Filed under: Blog,Dental Health,General — Tags: , , , — southlakedental @ 1:27 pm

You might have heard the adage, “you are what you eat.” You know that filling up on sugary sweets or carb-filled salty snacks will do a number not only on your teeth, but also on your waistline. What you might not know is that the foods you eat can positively impact your teeth, too. Here are some foods that can strengthen teeth and brighten your smile.

Cheese and Yogurt

When you combine calcium and protein, you get a teeth-strengthening combination that’s hard to beat, and cheese and yogurt contain both of them. Yogurt also contains beneficial bacteria, which help to fight off decay-causing bacteria. In addition to the protein and calcium, cheese raises the pH in the mouth, which makes it harder for bacteria to stick around and do their dirty work. Go for the hard cheeses (such as cheddar) to keep both your bones and your teeth healthy and strong.

Apples and Strawberries

Apples and strawberries both help to scrub off the plaque that accumulates on your teeth in between brushing. If you’re unable to brush your teeth after lunch or a snack, following it up with a few slices of apple or a couple of strawberries can help. They can’t substitute for brushing twice daily, but these fruits are good for the times in between your morning and evening oral hygiene routines.

Celery and Raw Carrots

If you’re not in the mood for fruit after a snack, how about some celery and carrot sticks? These have the same effect as the strawberries or apples, and the provide a nice crunch for someone who isn’t looking for a sweet palate-cleanser.


While not exactly a food, tea contains antioxidants that help prevent plaque from sticking to teeth. In addition, some types of tea contain trace amounts of fluoride, which strengthens enamel. One caveat: If you take your tea sweetened with sugar, you could undo the benefits. Try it unsweetened or consider a pinch of stevia.

If you have questions about how you can strengthen teeth and make your smile healthier, give us a call! We’d be happy to talk about it during your next dental checkup.

Creative Commons image by Rodney

What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer

June 15, 2017

Filed under: Blog,General — Tags: — southlakedental @ 2:41 pm

Cancer: It’s a word that no one wants to hear. To allow for early detection, most people see doctors regularly (or at least occasionally) for testing, depending on their ages, risk factors, and family history. You might not know this, but every time you see your dentist, you’ll have a visual screening for oral cancer. Here are some facts about oral cancer that might be a surprise to you.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

The symptoms of oral cancer might not be noticeable unless you are looking for them. Commonly, it will start off as a sore or bump in the mouth. Because bumps and sores are common and usually harmless, it’s easy to just ignore it and then get used to it. Any sore, lump, patch, or bump that persists for two weeks or more should be checked by a dentist.

Other symptoms include hoarseness, numbness or a pins-and-needles feeling in the mouth or throat, unexplained bleeding, and a change in the way your teeth fit together. If you wear dentures and they stop fitting correctly, this is another sign that needs to be checked.

Risk Factors

People, particularly men, who are over the age of 50 have a higher risk of developing oral cancer, especially if they also have a family history of cancer. Smokers are the most at risk. So are people who use smokeless tobacco or drink a lot of alcohol. Some oral cancers are caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV.

It’s important to know, however, that many people who develop oral cancer don’t have any of these risk factors. If you notice anything unusual going on in your mouth, have it checked even if you are a young non-smoker.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If your dentist suspects that you might have oral cancer, he or she will refer you to your primary care physician, an oral surgeon, or an oncologist. That doctor can take a biopsy to confirm or rule out the diagnosis. If you do have cancer, an oncologist will go over your options with you. You might have chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery.

The prognosis for oral cancer is better if it is caught early, so it’s important to have any sores, lesions, or concerning symptoms checked as soon as you notice that they’re not going away. Please call our office promptly if you have any signs that concern you. Chances are good that it’s not cancer, but since early detection is key, it’s important that we take a look and refer you for further testing if warranted.

Creative Commons image by Gisela Giardino

Replacing a Missing Tooth

May 15, 2017

Filed under: Blog,General — Tags: , , , , — southlakedental @ 1:55 pm

While every effort is made to keep your teeth in your mouth for as long as possible, there are sometimes reasons why a tooth must be extracted. Whether it’s an infection, an injury, or a cracked tooth, it can be worrisome to patients to learn that they need to have a tooth pulled. In some cases, a patient might need to have all or most of their teeth extracted for various reasons. The good news is that there are several options when it comes to replacing a missing tooth.

Dental Implants

One good option for those who have sufficient bone is to have a dental implant placed to replace the missing tooth. An implant consists of a metal rod that is implanted in the bone of the jaw. After some time, a crown is placed over the rod. This gives you a “tooth” that functions exactly the same as a natural tooth.

Dental Bridge

If you are missing a tooth that’s in between two strong teeth, a dental bridge might be an option. You would have crowns on the two adjacent teeth, with an additional crown fused between the two. This crown sits slightly above your gumline, creating a bridge that is not anchored to the bone. A bridge is a permanent appliance that stays in your mouth as long as you have the teeth that are holding the crowns on either side of the missing tooth.

Partial or Full Denture

Dentures, which are sometimes called “false teeth” can have a bad rap, but the materials used nowadays are a big improvement over those used a few decades ago. Dentures can be full, meaning that they replace all of the teeth, or partial, meaning that they replace only some of the teeth.

Some dentures can also snap into dental implants. This might be a good option if you have sufficient bone to support one or more dental implants but not enough to support an entire jaw’s worth of implants. This is also a much less costly option than having all of your missing teeth replaced with implants if you have more than a few.

It is important to have a missing tooth replaced if possible. One reason is that it will improve your ability to chew and, depending on where the tooth is, speak. Also, if you leave an empty space and you have a tooth above or below it, that tooth can begin to super-erupt, or grow out more, because it doesn’t have an opposing tooth to keep it from doing so.

Talk to your dentist about how you can best replace your missing tooth. He or she will know your specific situation and will be able to advise you best.

Creative Commons image by nikoretro.

What You Should Know About Teeth Whitening

April 30, 2017

Filed under: Blog,Dental Health,General — Tags: , , — southlakedental @ 7:48 pm

Are you happy with your smile? Many patients wish their teeth could be straighter, more uniform, or whiter. Of the three common complaints, the color of your teeth is generally the simplest fix. There are several different types of teeth whitening that you might consider in your quest to achieve a lighter, brighter smile. It’s always best to talk to your dentist first, because he or she can advise you based on your own specific circumstances.

Over the Counter Teeth Whitening Products

Walk down any pharmacy’s tooth care aisle and you’re bound to see several types of whitening products. These range from whitening toothpastes to whitening gels to bleaching trays. They are fairly inexpensive and easy to use in the convenience of your own home. Win win, right?

While these are good for many people who want to achieve a bit of whitening, they won’t be able to take care of deep staining or heavy discoloration. Also, these products sometimes cause some sensitivity or gum irritation. If these occur, stop using them and contact your dentist.

Custom Bleaching Trays

Your dentist can take impressions of your teeth and have a lab fabricate custom bleaching trays for you. You’d put bleaching solution in the trays and apply them for the time and frequency recommended by your dentist. Since the dentist will choose the type of bleaching solution that is right for your level of staining and your specific situation, you should see the results that your dentist tells you to expect. These can also cause some sensitivity and gum irritation. Because the trays fit your teeth perfectly, however, the solution is less likely to get onto your gums to cause a problem.

Internal Tooth Bleaching

If you have had a root canal treatment on one of your front teeth, you might notice that it is darker than the other teeth in the area. This can sometimes be remedied by having your dentist remove a bit of the root canal filling and bleaching out the crown part of the tooth. This has to be done in-office and involves the use of an ultraviolet light or a laser. Talk to your dentist about whether this is an option for you.

No matter what type of teeth whitening you are using, be sure to avoid foods and beverages that are likely to stain your teeth during the treatment. This means that you should not be drinking large amounts of coffee, black tea or red wine, and you also should not enjoy a slice of blueberry pie right after removing your bleaching trays. Keep up with your oral hygiene regimen by brushing and flossing regularly, and be sure to see your dentist twice per year (or more frequently if you have any problems) so he or she can monitor your progress.

Creative Commons image by Luciane Lazzaris

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