By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
May 22, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles   braces  
SNLStarsToothGapHasApparentlyVanishedAndSoCanYours

For all you hardcore Saturday Night Live fans, here's a trivia question: Who was the first cast member born in the 1990s? The answer—Pete Davidson, the edgy young comic who joined in 2014 at age 20. Speaking of Davidson, here's another question: What happened to his tooth gap?

If you're a dedicated viewer, you may have noticed in his early SNL seasons that Davidson had a noticeable gap between his front teeth, as well as some overall unevenness. Recently, though, the gap seems to have vanished and his teeth look straighter. As gossip goes, some believe his recent relationship with Kim Kardashian may be behind any dental changes.

So, what happened? Well, we're not sure! Davidson hasn't dished on any dental work. We'll just have to speculate and we do have a few possibilities.

First, though, it's helpful to understand what causes tooth gaps. In some cases, the size of a person's tooth might be too small in proportion to their jaw, which can leave space between teeth.

A gap can also develop if the strap of tissue connecting the upper lip to the gums (labial frenum) is overly large. Problems during childhood like an abnormal swallowing pattern or thumb sucking that put pressure on upper front teeth to move outward can create a gap.

Knowing the underlying cause can help us determine the best approach to correcting a tooth gap. Here a few of them.

Orthodontics. If a poor bite has created the gap, correcting the bite can close it. In this instance, we may turn to braces, aligners, or other orthodontic devices for moving teeth.

Dental bonding. With this technique, we apply a composite dental material to the tooth surface and bond it in place. This method is often used to repair chips, cracks or, in this case, fill in a slight gap.

Veneers. These thin shells of dental porcelain are bonded to the face of teeth to mask dental defects. Depending on how wide it is, a tooth gap could fall into this category.

Crowns. A step up from veneers, porcelain crowns are cemented over small-sized teeth to completely cover them.  Crowns could alleviate a gap by improving the proportional size of teeth.

One other thing to note: It may be possible to avoid a gap altogether by addressing causative issues in childhood. A simple frenectomy—snipping the tissue of an overly large labial frenum—or cessation therapy for thumb sucking could prevent a gap from developing.

But if that ship has already sailed, we may still be able to address your tooth gap and improve your smile. An initial consultative exam is your first step to a more attractive, gap-free smile.

If you would like more information about tooth gaps and how to treat them, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Space Between Front Teeth.”

By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
May 12, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: anxiety  
4ThingsYouCanDotoKeepAnxietyFromRobbingYouofNeededDentalCare

For most people, dental visits are as routine as a trip to the supermarket, but this is not the case for everyone. Some can become so overwhelmed, anxious, or nervous about seeing the dentist that they might put off their visit, even for a serious dental condition.

This kind of anxiety, often rooted in early childhood, shouldn't be dismissed or ignored. If it prevents you or someone you love from receiving needed dental care, it could disrupt your oral health—not to mention your overall well-being for years to come.

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, here are 4 things you can do to prevent dental anxiety from robbing you of the dental care you or a loved one needs.

The right dentist. The partnership between dentist and patient may be the most important element in addressing dental anxiety. It's important to find a provider that accepts and understands your anxiety, and who won't dismiss it with trite aphorisms like, "Your fear is all in your head." Finding a dentist who listens and who will work with you in allaying your concerns is often the first step toward overcoming dental anxiety.

Facing anxiety. It's common for people to try to ignore their inner turmoil and focus instead on "getting their teeth fixed." But as sensible as that sounds, it's not really effective. It's better instead to acknowledge and be forthright about your feelings of nervousness and apprehension. With it out in the open, you and your dentist can then include managing your anxiety as a part of your overall treatment plan.

Sedation therapy. It often takes time to overcome deep-seated phobias like dental anxiety. In the meantime, though, your teeth and gums may still need care. Your dentist can help relieve your anxiety, albeit temporarily, using one or more sedation therapy techniques to help you relax during your visit. These therapies may include an oral sedative taken just before your appointment or gas or IV sedation that helps you relax completely during a treatment session.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Psychotherapists have long used CBT to help patients overcome mental and emotional problems like depression, eating disorders, or phobias. CBT helps people change deep-seated patterns of thinking or behavior regarding a troublesome issue by confronting it and seeking to understand the "why" behind the patterns. Recently, a review of dental patients who underwent CBT for dental anxiety showed a number of positive results.

Overcoming dental anxiety can be a long journey requiring patience, courage, and understanding, but it can be done! With the techniques and methods dentists now have to address it, anxiety over dental treatment no longer need interfere with a person's ability to receive the dental care they need.

If you would like more information about dental anxiety and what to do about it, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety.”

By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
May 02, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
5PreventiveMaintenanceTipsToProtectYourOralHealth

Preventive maintenance (PM) can help extend the longevity of many things we own, from automobiles to electronic devices. But preventive maintenance is also useful for more than tangibles like cars or computers—your teeth and gums, for instance. Performing oral PM can help keep your mouth healthy and help you avoid costly treatments in the future.

In recognition of National Dental Care Month this May, here are 5 preventive maintenance tips to keep your teeth and gums in tip-top shape.

Daily oral hygiene. Dental plaque is a thin, bacterial film on tooth surfaces that's most responsible for dental disease. Accumulations of plaque and its hardened form, tartar, can trigger tooth decay or gum disease, both of which have the potential to rob you of your teeth. Daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque buildup is a great PM investment in your oral health.

Plaque disclosure. If you do brush and floss every day, how effective are you? One way to find out is to use a plaque disclosing agent, a product containing a special dye that only activates when it comes in contact with bacterial plaque. After applying it, you can see any plaque you've missed highlighted with a bright color, providing you valuable feedback toward improving your hygiene practice.

Dental cleanings. Even if you're a ninja at brushing and flossing, there's always a chance of missing some plaque. It can then calcify into the aforementioned tartar, which is impossible to remove with only brushing and flossing. Semi-annual cleanings by your dentist removes residual plaque and tartar, helping to boost your already low risk for tooth decay or gum disease.

Prompt treatment. When you hear a "knock" or some other odd occurrence with your car, it's wise to have it checked ASAP to avoid more extensive damage. The same goes for your mouth. Symptoms like dark spots on teeth, slow-healing mouth sores, or swollen, reddened and bleeding gums should prompt you to make an appointment with your dentist. The sooner you do, the quicker we can treat the problem at the least amount of expense.

Sports protection. Disease isn't the only threat to your mouth—a hard blow to the face or jaws can cause severe injuries that could reverberate for years to come. You can prevent injuries by wearing appropriate safety equipment during contact sports or similar activities, including helmets fitted with face shields or athletic mouthguards.

Most dental problems don't happen overnight—they're often the result of a lack of attention to your teeth and gum health. But adopting a PM mindset for your mouth could help you avoid serious issues—and expenses—down the road.

If you would like more information about best ways to take care of your oral health, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “10 Tips for Daily Oral Care at Home.”

By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
April 22, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: teeth grinding   stress  
ChronicStressCouldBeDamagingYourDentalHealth

We're all quite familiar with the impact chronic stress can have on our minds and emotions. But stress can also take a toll on physical well-being, even basic physiology like pulse rate and blood pressure. It might also surprise you to know that stress could play a role in some dental problems.

April is Stress Awareness Month, an opportunity to look afresh at this unsettling problem that afflicts many in modern life. As dental care professionals, we focus on how stress could affect your teeth and what you can do to minimize that effect.

Stress is any physical or mental strain in response to a danger or peril in life. It can be a good thing, as the sudden stress a hiker feels upon meeting a bear in the woods, which can focus the mind to take life-saving action. And if expertly harnessed, the "butterflies" a musician feels right before a concert may also serve to improve their performance.

Stress becomes problematic, though, when it morphs into a chronic response to life in general. Besides health problems akin to those we've previously mentioned, chronic stress can give rise to nervous behaviors like fidgeting, smoking or binge eating.

Stress may also give rise to behaviors we don't even realize we're doing—and one such involuntary habit could impact your dental health. Teeth grinding is the gnashing or grinding of teeth together, or mindlessly chewing on a hard object like a pencil.

Although quite common and less concerning in children, it's another matter when it occurs in adulthood. The habit can accelerate the normal teeth wearing that accompanies aging. Abnormally high biting forces generated by grinding can also cause teeth weakened by disease to loosen or fracture.

There are ways to reduce the effects of grinding, like wearing a protective mouthguard or having your teeth altered to reduce the biting forces the habit can generate. But addressing the chronic stress underlying teeth grinding through the following ways could help reduce its frequency and occurrence.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle: Eating a nutritiously-balanced diet, exercising and getting enough quality sleep can help reduce stress.

Avoid drugs or alcohol: These mood-altering substances may help someone cope with stress, but they don't address the underlying issue, and they can create additional physical and emotional issues for the user.

Pursue relaxation: Meditation, biofeedback therapy or even pursuing a favorite hobby could help you better manage your response to life issues causing you stress.

Seek others' help: Sharing your life struggles with trusted friends, family, professionals, or therapy groups can help greatly reduce your experience of stress.

Reducing chronic stress will certainly improve your overall well-being. If you suffer from teeth grinding, it may also do wonders for your oral health.

If you would like more information about stress-related dental problems, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Grinding.”

By Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
April 12, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
WhetherVotingforaCandidateorWisdomTeethYouCanChooseWisely

During election season, you'll often hear celebrities encouraging you to vote. But this year, Kaia Gerber, an up-and-coming model following the career path of her mother Cindy Crawford, made a unique election appeal—while getting her wisdom teeth removed.

With ice packs secured to her jaw, Gerber posted a selfie to social media right after her surgery. The caption read, “We don't need wisdom teeth to vote wisely.”

That's great advice—electing our leaders is one of the most important choices we make as a society. But Gerber's post also highlights another decision that bears careful consideration, whether or not to have your wisdom teeth removed.

Found in the very back of the mouth, wisdom teeth (or “third molars”) are usually the last of the permanent teeth to erupt between ages 17 and 25. But although their name may be a salute to coming of age, in reality wisdom teeth can be a pain. Because they're usually last to the party, they're often erupting in a jaw already crowded with teeth. Such a situation can be a recipe for numerous dental problems.

Crowded wisdom teeth may not erupt properly and remain totally or partially hidden within the gums (impaction). As such, they can impinge on and damage the roots of neighboring teeth, and can make overall hygiene more difficult, increasing the risk of dental disease. They can also help pressure other teeth out of position, resulting in an abnormal bite.

Because of this potential for problems, it's been a common practice in dentistry to remove wisdom teeth preemptively before any problems arise. As a result, wisdom teeth extractions are the top oral surgical procedure performed, with around 10 million of them removed every year.

But that practice is beginning to wane, as many dentists are now adopting more of a “wait and see” approach. If the wisdom teeth show signs of problems—impaction, tooth decay, gum disease or bite influence—removal is usually recommended. If not, though, the wisdom teeth are closely monitored during adolescence and early adulthood. If no problems develop, they may be left intact.

This approach works best if you maintain regular dental cleanings and checkups. During these visits, we'll be able to consistently evaluate the overall health of your mouth, particularly in relation to your wisdom teeth.

Just as getting information on candidates helps you decide your vote, this approach of watchful waiting can help us recommend the best course for your wisdom teeth. Whether you vote your wisdom teeth “in” or “out,” you'll be able to do it wisely.

If you would like more information about what's best to do about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.”





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Dentist in Shelby, NC
Joseph R. Hendrick, Jr., DDS, PA
511 N. Morgan Street
Shelby, NC 28150
(704) 484-0077
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