Category Archives: Preventive Care

The Relationship Between Dental Phobia and Tooth Decay

Fear of the dentist, technically known as odontophobia or dentophobia, is one of the most common fears of people of all ages. Just the thought of walking in the door of the dental office is enough to make some quake in their boots. Whether they’ve had a bad experience in the past, apprehension about the “drill,” or another root cause, fear of the dentist can make taking good care of teeth much more difficult.

A new study from the Kings College of London Dental Institute found that people with dental anxiety are more likely to experience tooth decay, cavities, and tooth loss. This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, as dental phobia sometimes influences its sufferers to skip routine dental appointments or choose short-term solutions (tooth extraction) over more invasive long-term solutions (tooth restoration over several visits).

The study, published in the British Dental Journal,  noted that previous research has found that “individuals with dental phobia express negative feelings such as sadness, tiredness, discouragement and general anxiety, less vitality, and more exhaustion. Embarrassment (a combination of guilt and bad conscience) of their poor teeth will prevent them from smiling and showing their teeth because phobic people rate their oral and general health as poor and frequently perceive that they would require dental treatment upon a dental visit.”

If you are scared of the dentist, you’re not alone. There are plenty of ways to overcome the fear, whether through therapy, bringing a loved one to the office with you, or by coming in to talk to a new dentist before your first appointment. At Vacendak Dentistry, we make every effort to put our patients at ease. Our comfortable exam rooms, peaceful environment, and friendly, knowledgeable staff, can make the whole experience much more pleasant.  Routine dental appointments are generally painless and prevent more painful procedures in the future!

Call our Chesapeake office today at (757) 609-3510 to schedule a dental visit or to learn more about our practice.

What’s Not Working With Your Kids’ Dental Hygiene Routine?

Child little girl brushing teeth in bathEstablishing a dental care routine for young children can be a real challenge. As a parent you have a hundred things going on (today alone) and sometimes you’re lucky to get the kids out the door with all their shoes on, much less with their teeth brushed and flossed. No judgment here. As dental professionals, we have some tips for some of the most common pitfalls of children’s daily dental habits:

They Don’t Want to Brush

Let’s face it: brushing teeth is one of life’s most mundane but most necessary activities. This fact is not lost on children, but there are ways to make brushing a little more exciting. First, let them pick out their own toothbrush. It may be superhero themed and have sound effects or as simple as can be. Either way, it gives them some ownership over the task. You can also develop a rewards system. A whole week of brushing twice a day means a little more screentime or a family outing for ice cream. A little bribery is ok when dental health is at stake. 😉

They’re Not Brushing Thoroughly Enough

So your kid is picking up the toothbrush and brushing for only 10 seconds? Maybe they seem to be brushing for the full recommended two minutes but your dental hygienist has noted plaque buildup on those hard-to-reach places? Consider setting a fun timer in the bathroom that buzzes after two minutes, playing a two minute long song, or getting a toothbrush like this one that lights up when it’s time to move from the upper teeth to the lower teeth or vice versa. Note: Many adults aren’t brushing for as long as they should, either, so this could be a learning experience for the whole family!

They Find Flossing Difficult

Flossing requires a certain amount of dexterity that some little hands just do not have. Once teeth are close enough together to require floss, make sure that you are flossing for them and modeling good flossing technique yourself. Handheld floss picks are easy to use for older kids.

They Keep Getting Cavities

So you feel like the brushing and flossing have been going well but each trip to the dentist reveals another cavity? Dental sealants are a smart (and recommended) choice for kids between the ages of 5 and 7 as they provide another layer of preventative protection for molars.

They’re Afraid of Going to the Dentist

Odontophobia, or fear of going to the dentist, is one of the most common reasons for missed routine dental appointments. Some scientists say it even runs in the family! That’s why it’s so important that parents make a point to keep their own dentist appointments and treat them as positive experiences rather than necessary evils. It’s also important to find a “kid-friendly” dental office with a team that will do all they can to put your child at ease from the moment they walk in the door.

If you’re searching for an excellent pediatric dentist, look no further than Vacendak Dentistry. We partner with you, the parent, to make dental health a  positive priority in your family’s life! Our office is conveniently located in Chesapeake and we accept most insurance plans. Call us today at (757) 609-3510 to schedule an appointment or contact us online.

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!

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.



Water and Your Oral Health

bigstock-Winking-Sly-Child-77358794We are all aware of the health benefits of drinking plenty of water—better digestion, clearer skin and weight management number among them. But did you know that drinking lots of water also improves oral health? Here’s how.

Bacteria and Plaque Management

By lubricating the mouth and supporting the flow of saliva, proper hydration helps control the balance of bacteria in the mouth. It also loosens layers of plaque between brushing and flossing.

 Dry Mouth Treatment

It may seem obvious, but the first course of treatment dry mouth is to make sure that you are drinking enough water. If that doesn’t fix the problem over time, these other oral health issues may be underlying causes.

Tooth Decay and Cavity Prevention

All water is not created equal. This is especially true when it comes to the health of teeth and gums. Bottled and certain types of filtered water don’t contain the fluoride necessary to fortify tooth enamel against harmful bacteria and plaque buildup. Drinking enough fluoridated water is particularly essential for young children.

According to the CDC, “Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process—it keeps tooth enamel strong and solid. Tooth decay is caused by certain bacteria in the mouth. When a person eats sugar and other refined carbohydrates, these bacteria produce acid that removes minerals from the surface of the tooth. Fluoride helps to remineralize tooth surfaces and prevents cavities from forming.” The CDC website states that addition of fluoride to community water sources (tap water), also known as community fluoridation, has correlated with a dramatic decline in tooth decay over the past 70 years. While the reduction in overall tooth decay is also associated with better understanding of good oral hygiene habits, there is evidence that people who drink too much unfluoridated water are more susceptible to decay and cavities.

How can you make sure that the water your family consumes contains the dentist-recommended level of fluoride (at least 0.7 mmL)? The easiest way is to drink tap water instead of bottled or filtered water, as the EPA requires water to be fortified with fluoride. Concerned about other chemicals in the tap water? Check your city’s water quality report online. Chesapeake’s 2014 water quality report is available here.

While water isn’t the only source of fluoride (mouthwashes, rinses and toothpaste also contain it), it is the most effective and healthful way to make sure your teeth are protected.

How Much Water Should I Drink for Healthy Teeth and a Healthy Body?

Eight glasses of water day is the commonly accepted hydration standard, but it may not be the answer for everyone. Talk to your primary care physician for a personalized answer.

At Vacendak Dentistry, we’re firm believers that the health of the mouth contributes to the health of the whole body.  Call us today at (757) 609-3510 to request a dental appointment. We accept nearly all insurance plans.

The Toothbrush: a History

toothbrush-390310_1280The toothbrush of today comes in various different colors, shapes, sizes, styles, and power options (if you are buying an electric variant) so choosing the right one can be hard to do when we are inundated with so many choices at the checkout line.

However, we should consider ourselves quite fortunate for having so many brands to choose from. The toothbrush we know today didn’t exist until 1938, when nylon bristles were introduced. Before that boar and other animal hair bristles were common, and first surfaced in China around 1498. Even before that, tribes and early civilizations used “chew sticks” (sticks with frayed edges at one end) for oral hygiene as far back as 3000 BC.

And although the device has been around in some form or another for nearly 5000 years, brushing teeth didn’t become popular in the United States until after the second world war. This was because soldiers were mandated to brush teeth  while in the military and continued the habit when the war was over.

Therefore we should count ourselves lucky that we have an entire aisle devoted to dental hygiene as opposed to using sticks that we can find in the backyard.

So what is the best toothbrush?

ADA Logo

Well, that answer depends. A quick and easy rule of thumb is that any product branded as “ADA Accepted” will get the job done. But you may have personal preferences that play into what brush might be right for you.

There are a few different types of brushes to consider:

  1. Classic: This is what you think of as a normal toothbrush, a long plastic handle that comes in different colors with a bristled head. The main factor for buyers of these toothbrushes is the bristle hardness. Usually a toothbrush will come in soft, very soft, medium, or hard. It is recommended to use soft or very soft as anything harder can damage the gum line over time.
  2. Electric: Electric toothbrushes must be accompanied by an ADA seal of acceptance. If it does not have one it likely has not been thoroughly tested, may break easily, or may not remove plaque efficiently. However it maybe quicker to use an electric toothbrush because of its back-and-forth motion already built in. Other things to consider are battery life, cost, and whether or not the product has replaceable heads (if it does, you will not have to replace the entire product when the bristles become worn).
  3. Chewable: Perfect for traveling, these compact plastic brush heads are portable and can be great in a pinch. They are available in some bathroom vending machines, come in different flavors, and emphasize convenience rather than necessity. Simply toss a few in your mouth and chew them like bubble gum.

Finding the right option involves looking at the money you have to spend on a new toothbrush, considering your gum sensitivity, determining the size that you might need at the time and whether or not you plan on traveling soon.

And no matter what, if questions you have about the kind of brush that could be right for you, Vacendak is here to help.

Easter Candy Alternatives

tiny bunniesIt’s the time of year when the weather starts to warm up and grocery store aisles turn pastel in time for Easter. While many parents prepare Easter baskets for their children with marshmallow chicks, chocolate bunnies, and jellybeans, there are many other healthy alternatives to consider that are better for their teeth.

Why is candy bad?

Your mouth contains natural bacteria called streptococcus, and it is attracted to the sugar in candy. Together they break down into acid that attacks the enamel of your teeth. While it tastes wonderful at the time, candy can lead to cavities and other dental problems later on.

Healthy Alternatives


  • Decorated hard-boiled eggs which are filled with protein to give energy to active kids
  • Fresh fruit such as kiwis, mangoes, or clementines
  • Trail mix, yogurt-to-go, and cheese sticks
  • Popcorn balls have fiber and are low in sugar
  • Candy and gum with xylitol – save your kids from a sugar attack on their teeth and may reduce their chances of getting a cavity

Other Ideas

  • Coloring books and crayons
  • Play Dough, bouncy balls and stickers
  • Inexpensive jewelry and toys
  • Nail polish and lip gloss
  • Books, video game, and puzzles
  • Money and gift cards

Whatever you choose to put in your child’s Easter basket, it is important that they understand candy is an occasional treat and not something that should be eaten all the time. With that knowledge and practice, they will have a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Making Dental Appointments Easy for Kids


Here are our additions to these great tips from the Delta Dental Tooth Fairy:

1) Make their first trip to the dentist around their first birthday.  Kids who get used to dental visits as young toddlers have an easier time than kids who wait until they are three or four.

2) Don’t over prepare them. Tell them that we are going to count their teeth and check how their smile is growing. Using words like “drill” or “shot,” even when talking about your own dental visits, can make the dentist sound scary.

3) Avoid bribery.  Promising a special treat if they behave at the dentist may increase their apprehension.  Plus, using sugary foods to incentivize good behavior is contradictory to the message that healthy snacks are a part of good oral hygiene.

4) Emphasize that visiting the dentist is normal and routine.  Just like brushing twice a day, visiting the dentist every six months is a part of life-long oral health.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s first dental appoint, please don’t hesitate to call us at 757-609-3510.  We’d be happy to talk through a plan to make it comfortable and easy for you and your child.

4 Myths About Gum Disease

1) Gum Disease is uncommon.

Gum disease is actually very common.  According to the CDC, half of all adults over 30 have some form of gum disease.  Gum disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth.  It is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is on your teeth.  Regular brushing and flossing prevent the buildup of plaque that can turn into tartar.

2) It’s normal for gums to bleed during pregnancy.

Some women develop “pregnancy gingivitis” (gingivitis is a precursor to gum disease), but not all.  It’s especially important to have regular cleanings early in pregnancy.

3) I don’t get cavities, so I won’t get gum disease.

While good oral hygiene will help prevent both, just because you don’t get cavities doesn’t mean you won’t get gum disease.  Gum disease is painless, so many people don’t know they have it. Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, causes gums to bleed easily and can be tender.  At this stage, a professional cleaning at the dentist office can stop the development of gum disease.

4) Having gum disease means I’ll lose my teeth.

Not true!  Good oral hygiene habits and regular visits to the dentist will help you keep your teeth. Your dentist will design a treatment plan to help you keep your gum disease under control.


Dental Health Myths

Our treatment room monitor setup allows the doctors to review x-rays and other information directly with the patient.

Dental health changes as you age. Bone loss and gum disease can affect your quality of life.  Here are two common myths about dental health and aging:

Myth One:  It doesn’t matter if I get calcium from my food or from supplements—it’s all the same.

Calcium is especially important as we get older to prevent bone loss or osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can happen in the jaw bone and when it does, it may lead to your teeth becoming loose or falling out. In a recent study, people who got their calcium almost exclusively from supplements were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to those who took no supplements. The recommended daily amount of calcium for most adults is 1,000 milligrams a day, preferably from foods including low-fat dairy such as milk, cheese and yogurt.

Myth Two: Everyone needs dentures at some point.

Today, approximately 75 percent of people over age 65 have kept some or all of their teeth. Scientists credit this improvement with better preventive measures like community water fluoridation and daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste. Advances in dental care have allowed dentists to save teeth that would have been lost in the past. With daily brushing and flossing and regular visits to the dentist, you can keep your teeth for life!

Source: American Dental Association