Category Archives: General Dentistry

Why Are Dental X-Rays Necessary?

Dental care is “whole body” care. The health of your teeth and jaw impact your overall health, so dentists do everything we can to prevent and diagnose potential issues before they become obvious and painful. Dental X-Rays are one tool we use to give the best possible care.

There is only so much a dentist or hygienist can see with their eyes alone when examining a mouth. X-rays allow us to see the “unseeable” and use that information to proactively treat the mouth. Some of the things X-rays enable us to do include:

  • Detect cavities
  • Find and predict gum disease
  • Diagnose jaw issues
  • Check the health of the bones around teeth
  • Make sure the roots of teeth are healthy
  • See teeth that are coming in but have yet to erupt

X-rays are an important part of any dental treatment plan for people of all ages. We like to take pictures of all parts of the mouth, though not necessarily all during one routine exam. Bitewing X-rays show the tops of teeth and indicate early signs of dental decay. Periapical X-rays show the entire tooth from crown to supporting bone. Panoramic X-rays are taken from the outside of the mouth and provide a full view of the oral cavity.

How Often Do I Need X-Rays?

When visiting a new dentist you can expect them to order a full set of X-rays in order to provide a complete view of your oral health. After that, the dentist probably won’t need new images at every routine appointment and will instead make an individualized schedule based on your age/needs.

Are Dental X-rays Safe?

In short, yes. Today’s digital imaging technology minimizes radiation exposure. That, combined with the use of leaded covers for the abdomen and neck, make any worry about radiation negligible. This also assumes that you are in good health and not pregnant or breastfeeding. Your dentist will adjust if your medical history requires.

Know What to Expect

If you or your child have never had dental X-rays before (or if it’s been a while), don’t hesitate to ask your dentist to walk you through their reasoning for administering them and what the process will be like. At the end of the day, X-rays help the dentist provide personalized care and help you have a better sense of the parts of your mouth you can’t see!

Vacendak Dentistry uses the latest digital imaging equipment to prevent and diagnose dental issues. Call us today at (757) 609-3510 to schedule an appointment.

Do I REALLY Need a Dental Check Up Every 6 Months?

Answer: If it’s been more than six months or you’ve experienced any oral pain, then yes!

Too many people assume that if their teeth look and feel ok, routine dental appointments are less important. The generally recommended twice-yearly dental visits slide to once a year or every other. Some even wait till they have issues like loose teeth, toothaches, or bleeding gums to call the dentist. This is ill-advised because proper preventative care does exactly what it sounds like–helps prevent more serious dental problems in the future.

Like we say again and again, oral health impacts overall health. This means that a dental checkup isn’t just about teeth and gums. At Vacendak Dentistry, every visit involves a significant amount of time with the dentist, during which we address concerns you may not even know you had. For instance, each visit includes an oral cancer screening because the signs of such cancers are not always obvious, and of course, better caught early. That’s just one of the ways a visit at our office can improve your health and self-knowledge.

We make an effort to help our patients understand the importance of daily routine oral hygiene. As part of that, there is a caveat for some individuals. Depending on your unique teeth and overall health, you may need to see us more OR less often. In order to know what is best for you, you’ve got to talk to the dentist.

Get excited about your oral health! Maintaining it doesn’t have to be a chore. The doctors at Vacendak Dentistry can help. We are convenient located near the Kempsville area of Chesapeake and are accepting new patients every day. Call us now at (757) 609-3510 or contact the office online. We take most dental insurance plans.

 

What Should I Do After I Get a Tooth Pulled?

There are several reasons a dentist may recommend a tooth extraction, including impacted wisdom teeth, advanced tooth decay that leaves a tooth unsalvageable, an orthodontic need to make room in the mouth, or other more complex dental issues. No matter the reason, most patients are nervous about getting teeth pulled, especially if it’s their first time.

Thanks to gentle sedation and improved extraction techniques, all you need to do is trust the dentist or oral surgeon doing the procedure, alert them of concerns and anxieties before the extraction and of any shooting pain during (if you choose to be awake). We know you’ll get through it with flying colors! The most important part of any tooth extraction is the aftercare. Be sure to follow all surgical instructions provided by your doctor and keep the following tips in mind:

  • Have a trusted person drive you home post-extraction even if you weren’t fully sedated. You may feel nervous or lightheaded and it is safer to get a ride.
  • Directly following the procedure, you will be instructed to bite down on gauze to stop the bleeding. Keep the gauze in place for at least 30 minutes and replace it with fresh gauze after 30 min if still bleeding. You may bleed minimally for up to 24 hours, but if bleeding seems excessive, be sure to call your doctor.
  • Take your medication! If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics or painkillers, get your trusted person to make a stop at the pharmacy before you head home to rest. Once you have it, take it faithfully. This will minimize pain and keep you comfortable.
  • Eat soft foods and avoid anything hard, sticky or crunchy for at least a week.
  • No straws or smoking for 72 hours after surgery. Your mouth will thank you as this helps avoid disrupting the very important blood clot that needs to form in order for gums to heal.

These are all things to keep in mind that will help shorten recovery and minimize pain. If you’re facing a tooth extraction, make sure you talk in depth with your dentist and closely adhere to all post-procedure instructions and recommendations. Getting a tooth pulled may feel scary, but it isn’t so bad when you have the facts you need to feel at ease.

Resolve to Enjoy Taking Care of Your Teeth

New Year’s resolutions are pretty silly, aren’t they? We make them on January 1 only to abandon them when life gets in the way, sometimes as soon as February. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. It’s all in the attitude. No one is perfect and little by little, we can integrate positive habits with just a little extra self-discipline. Whatever you “resolve” to do this year, whether it’s getting fit, saving money, or taking more time for self-care, consider adding a special focus on improving your oral health. There are plenty of benefits of taking care of your teeth consistently.

  • Helps prevent gum disease. Gums may seem like a small part of the body comparatively, but they really pack a punch when it comes to overall health. Gum disease correlates with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as diabetes. Brushing, flossing, and scheduling regular dental appointments all contribute to lower chance of periodontal disease.
  • Saves teeth. Dentures are not an inevitability. You can keep your teeth by following the dental advice you know well.
  • Promotes early detection of oral cancer. While good dental hygiene habits cannot prevent cancers of the mouth and throat, they can help reduce risk and regular dental visits help ensure that any cancer is caught early. At Vacendak Dentistry, we include an oral cancer screening as part of each routine appointment.
  • Boosts your confidence. Strong, beautiful teeth are true assets to your self-esteem and can help you get far in your personal and professional lives. Good habits and regular dental visits work together to keep your teeth looking bright, white and beautiful.

What’s stopping you? Get a jump on the new year and your new healthy habits! Call Vacendak Dentistry today at (757) 609-3510 to schedule an appointment for January. Our compassionate, professional staff will help you achieve your goals and make sure you leave with a smile on your face.

How Teeth Affect Speech

 

Teeth are for more than just chewing. They also play a big part in speech development and confidence.

Young attractive African woman with short haircut talking on cell phone to her friend looking cheerful joyful and happy sitting at the window touching her chin. Human emotions and feelingsWhile talking comes naturally to many of us, we sometimes forget how complex speech actually is. Humans typically learn how to talk by listening and imitating those around them. This process involves a number of physical and neurological structures that work together to form words. These physical structures include mainly the lips, the tongue, the jaw, the vocal cords and the teeth. When one of the elements of successful speech is not functioning properly, people may develop delays or impediments.

Functional

Teeth help us produce all kinds of sounds, including /f/ (“found”), /v/ (“virtue), /s/ (“sew”), /z/ (“zip”), the “ch” in “china,” the g sound in “gym,” and the “sh” sound in “shoe.” Teeth are also partially responsible for the voiceless” sounds like “th” (“thirst). Think about all the words that use these sounds and imagine how missing or misaligned teeth might make speaking more challenging.

People who face these issues can benefit from visiting a dentist and/or orthodontist and in some cases working with a speech therapist.

Aesthetic

A confident and warm smile can brighten someone else’s day and put them at ease. When a person’s teeth are jumbled, discolored, or missing, they may be less likely to offer that smile or speak clearly.

Talking quietly and mumbling are common in those with more “obvious” dental problems. This lack of confidence can be limiting both professionally and socially. Sometimes a teeth whitening treatment at the dentist is all a person needs to give them the courage to speak out loud and proud!

We here at Vacendak Dentistry talk all the time (loudly and proudly might we add) about how dental health impacts all areas of a lifestyle. Let us take care of your teeth and hopefully help you feel more confident about the way you talk. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

To Floss or Not to Floss?

Beautiful woman with dental floss.If you’ve been on social media at all in the last week, you’ve probably seen a new report that suggests that flossing may not be medically necessary. According to the report published by the Associated Press, flossing, a dental hygiene mainstay since the early 20th century, has little scientific evidence of having health benefits. They note the lack of established scientific research behind the practice of flossing and its relation to incidences of gingivitis, plaque build-up and tooth decay. This has led many people to celebrate with relief: No more pressure to floss, right? Not so fast. 

A Case for Flossing

While we agree that there should be independent long-term studies to assess the effectiveness of flossing, we also think that people should consider on the practice’s intention–removing plaque from tight spaces toothbrushes can’t reach–and the knowledge of experienced dental professionals before choosing to stop flossing. The American Dental Association released a statement this week:

“According to the American Dental Association (ADA), interdental cleaners such as floss are an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums. Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach. Interdental cleaning is proven to help remove debris between teeth that can contribute to plaque buildup.

More than 500 bacterial species can be found in plaque; some are good and some are bad for your mouth. Together with food debris, water and other components, the plaque buildup around the teeth and on the gum line will contribute to disease in teeth and gums.

Whether you use floss or another interdental cleaner is a personal preference, but it’s very important to understand the proper technique for each tool so that it is effective. Patients should talk to their dentists about how to use interdental cleaners to ensure efficacy.”

The important thing to note is the ADA’s emphasis on using floss and other interdental cleaners correctly in order to receive the benefits.

How to Floss Correctly

First things first: choose the floss that’s right for you. Waxed or unwaxed, think ribbon or thin thread, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you follow these basic guidelines when using it.

  • Pull out 18-24 inches of floss
  • Wrap the ends around your middle fingers and hold both sides with your peace fingers
  • Slide the floss between teeth in a “C” shape and move it up and down gently
  • Repeat for each tooth

Sidenote: Handheld interdental cleaners are also just as effective as traditional dental floss!

If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. Don’t pay too much attention to the trendy buzz surrounding the questionable merits of flossing. Take it from these dentists: Along with brushing and regular dental visits, flossing is one of the best allies against gum disease and tooth decay!

Why Is Sugar Bad for Your Teeth?

Close up portrait of beautiful little female child in white hat holding huge spiral lollipop having fun while enjoying sweet candy with happy expression against white concrete wall. Selective focus

Sweet things are delicious. From chocolate and soda to juice and cake, we love sugar. Most of us admit to having an active sweet tooth, despite knowing that too much sugar is actually detrimental to teeth! But why is this the case? We’ve got the answer.

First, it’s important to know that sugar in itself is not a bad thing. It’s the chemical reaction that happens in the mouth when you eat it that causes tooth decay and cavities. Certain bacteria in saliva interact feed off of sugar and create acids that eat away at tooth enamel when left unchecked. This ultimately results in cavities, pain and other oral problems.

Preventing the Negative Effects of Sugar Consumption

A healthy diet and good oral hygiene are the best defenses against the harmful effects of sugar. When given the right care, your mouth is quite skilled at repairing itself through the process of remineralization (the opposite of this process, demineralization, occurs when sugar acids attack teeth).

Limiting sugar consumption, making sure that you are getting plenty of calcium (from healthy sources like dairy products and leafy greens), and staying hydrated can all contribute to a healthy mouth free of cavities.

This advice is an important part of teaching smart oral hygiene and health habits to children, who are particularly susceptible to cavities and tooth decay.

Remember that cavities and other signs of tooth decay are not always obvious. That’s one reason why you should make sure you and your family members are visiting the dentist at least twice a year. Your dentist can check for sneaky problems and provide a thorough dental cleaning.

Vacendak Dentistry is here for your family. Call or contact us now to schedule a dentist appointment. We are located conveniently between the Greenbrier and Kempsville areas of Chesapeake and accept most dental  insurance plans.

 

 

Common Causes of a Toothache

Dental care and toothache. Closeup young woman face worried girl suffering from tooth pain

Uh-oh. You get a twinge of pain in or around your jaw. Maybe you feel it “in” a specific tooth or maybe it just feels like a radiating ache. Either way, your first thought might be that you are suffering from a cavity. This isn’t necessarily the case. There are several possible sources of tooth pain that only a dentist can diagnose:

Tooth Grinding (Bruxism)

Do you grind your teeth at night? Many people are unaware of this habit until a partner notices and asks them to sleep on the couch! Bruxism is often caused by excessive stress or an abnormal bite. When looking for signs of tooth grinding, a dentist will look for “flat” or worn down teeth. Wearing a mouth guard at night should help fix the issue and ease your pain.

Gum Disease (Gingivitis & Periodontitis)

Gum disease is an insidious problem that is sometimes associated with heart disease and diabetes. In addition to oral pain, people with gum disease suffer from bad breath, swollen and bleeding gums, sensitive teeth and receding gum lines. Gingivitis (and later periodontitis)  occurs when plaque builds up on teeth, causing inflammation. While mild gingivitis can usually be reversed with proper oral hygiene habits and visit to the dentist for a cleaning. If the gum disease is advanced, however, it may require antibiotics, dental scaling, and other more extreme treatment measures.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/TMD)

Does your jaw tend to click or pop? Is it difficult to open up and say “AHHH?” If this, along with pain or tenderness on either side of your face and jaw, sounds familiar, you may have TMJ. Some people with the condition also experience headaches, shoulder pain and even ringing in their ears. To diagnose TMJ, the dentist will likely take some X-rays, do a bite test, and refer you to an oral surgeon for follow-up.

Toothaches may seem all too common, but they are nothing to ignore! Make an appointment with a dentist anytime you experience persistent tooth pain, as its source may be more serious than a cavity (which can generally be prevented with routine dental visits and good oral hygiene habits). Call Vacendak Dentistry at (757) 609-3510 to make an appointment! Our dental office is located in Chesapeake, central to both Kempsville and Greenbrier and we accept most insurance plans.

Dangers of Chewing Ice for Your Teeth

Three ice cubes on white background. Clipping pats.

Habitual ice chewing is fairly common.   Many people use it as a method to alleviate dry-mouth and curb snacking. While this behavior may seem harmless (and rather refreshing!), the truth is that chewing on ice can wreak havoc on your teeth. Here’s how.

  • Broken teeth. Ice may just be frozen water, but unlike water, it is not good for the enamel of your teeth. You wouldn’t nibble on rocks because you know that doing so would definitely cause damage? Ice can have the same effect!
  • Damaged fillings. Repetitively chewing on ice creates a “hot-cold” pattern in the mouth that causes the enamel to expand and contract. This is risky business when you have fillings, because they tend to expand more quickly than teeth.
  • Injured gums. Ice can be sharp and tiny shards puncture gums, causing pain and vulnerability to gum disease.
  • Tooth sensitivity. As ice breaks down the enamel and dentin of the tooth, a person will experience increased sensitivity to very hot and very cold foods and drinks.

How to Stop

Do you have an inexplicable urge to chew on ice?   Contact a doctor and/or a mental health professional to address the source of the problem. Medical attention will preserve the health of your body and your mouth!

If you chew on ice and are experiencing any of the aforementioned ill-effects (broken teeth, painful gums, sensitive teeth or damaged fillings), contact Vacendak Dentistry. We can help reverse the effects, soothe pain and put you on the path to better oral health. Call us today at (757) 609-3510 to schedule an appointment.

 

 

Extended Wednesday Hours–Especially for Teachers!

Teachers do an important job in the Hampton Roads community. You work long hours in order to educate and nurture children, and we understand that it can be difficult to find time to take off for routine appointments like doctor and dental visits. That’s why we’ve extended our Wednesday hours with you in mind!

We want to make it easy for you to take care of YOU for a change. Come in after the school day ends for a dental appointment with the Vacendak doctors. Our caring, professional staff make sure that you feel comfortable, get your teeth cared for, and leave the office ready to smile for your students the next day–all without taking any time out of your busy work schedule. Click to download and share this flyer with your colleagues:

Vacendak-Dentistry-2015-Educator-Flyer

Call us today at 757-609-3510 to schedule an appointment or request one online. We accept most insurance plans.