Simple tips for helping alleviate your child’s fear of the dentist

If you are the parent to a small child who is absolutely terrified of going to the dentist, you know how stressful and difficult it can be to get Junior’s teeth looked at. You’ve tried to reassure him what seems to be hundreds of times that the dentist is his friend, but your attempts have proved futile. Luckily, you don’t have to give up just yet.

Oral care experts at the University of Michigan recommend that:

1) You read books to your son or daughter about visiting the dentist
“Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist” and “The Bernstein Bears Visit the Dentist” are great books that will help your peanut understand how visiting a family dentist doesn’t need to be a scary experience.

2) You don’t beat around the bush
Little kids are often smarter than you think. They will definitely know if you are lying to them or not shying away from the truth. As a parent, your job is to be honest. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to be so direct that your frighten your child, but you should be truthful. Consider saying, for example, if your lovebug is going for a cleaning, “Your teeth are going to get a bath today.”

3) You stay relaxed
Take whatever steps you need to in order to stay relaxed. Your son or daughter will pick up and mimic how you’re feeling. If you are tense, he or she will think there is reason for him to feel the same way that you do. If you need to, distract yourself by listening to calming music when in the waiting room or do some deep breathing while driving to the office.

Five Important Facts on Gum Swelling Causes and Treatment

by Raleigh Family Dentist, Dr Thomas Cooke DDS

Inflammation of the gums

Gum Swelling is Painful

Gum infection can occur in any person whether they go to the dentist every six months or every six years. It is from bacteria that naturally live in the mouth, so you don’t get this infection from other people or from not washing your hands. You can get this before a bad tooth is extracted. You can get this after a bad tooth is extracted. Bad oral hygiene is one of the main reasons for gum infection. Brushing and flossing daily is a great idea to prevent gum problems from occurring.

• Signs of gum infection

A main sign of gum infection is gum swelling of your tissue around a tooth. Another sign is swollen tissue around a tooth that causes the gums to bleed. When you have an infection, your temperature always rises. When you have a gum infection, you will have an increased temperature.

• Ways to prevent gum infection

One of the best ways to prevent a gum infection is to brush and floss daily. A mouth wash is helpful but flossing is the most important tool out of all the recommendations. Brushing your teeth after every time you eat will help tremendously, but many people find it hard to do this.

• Gum infection from a dead nerve

If you have drainage coming out of the side area of your tooth, there is a good chance that you have a gum abscess from a dead nerve in a tooth and a root canal may be needed. A dentist can take an x-ray and evaluate this area. The x-ray may show a dark area under the root. This is the evidence that is needed to confirm that the nerve is dead and the infection is from a tooth that needs a root canal.

• Gum infection from periodontal disease

Bacteria in the mouth can cause destruction of the soft tissue called gingiva and they can cause destruction of the supporting bone around a tooth. This destruction around a tooth from bacteria is called periodontal disease and it is mainly a gum infection that has been around for too long. The destruction/ infection causes permanent damage and it must be stopped or tooth loss will occur.

• Gum infection around a wisdom tooth

You can experience a gum infection around a wisdom tooth called pericoronitis. This condition occurs when a wisdom tooth is coming in and food and bacteria find this area and set up an infection. The answer is antibiotics and eventually getting the wisdom tooth removed most of the time.

Five Facts on Fractured Teeth and Broken Tooth Treatment

by Dentist Raleigh NC Thomas Cooke DDS

fractured teeth

Broken Teeth Need Your Dentist

Fractured teeth, cracked teeth, or chipped teeth all have one thing in common. Something happened to a tooth and it needs to be evaluated and repaired by your family dentist. A tooth in this condition will have different treatment recommendations depending on the severity of the missing tooth structure. Even if this condition that you experience does not cause pain, you should still have this evaluated as soon as possible to prevent more damage (even if you are entophobic, that is, are frightened of going to see your dentist).

• Fractures of different layers of the tooth

A cracked tooth can involve any of the the three layers of a tooth. The first layer is the enamel. This layer of missing tooth structure may or may not cause pain. This layer is very important to keep intact because decay can occur faster once the enamel is missing. The second layer of the tooth is the dentin. This area when exposed from a fracture is important to repair because this layer covers the nerve of the tooth and pain will occur eventually if it has not started already. The third layer of the tooth is the pulp of the tooth. This is where the nerve lives and if this area is violated then a root canal will be needed to save the tooth.

• Cracked tooth syndrome

Cracked tooth syndrome is a situation where trauma occurs to a tooth and a crack is created that goes into the second layer of the tooth and it causes pain when pressure is applied to the tooth. The pain may be present only at some times and not at other times. The crack may not cause the tooth to be cold sensitive or the tooth may be very cold sensitive. With this situation people normally will experience a sharp shooting pain that occurs after pressure is placed on a tooth. After pressure is released the fractured area then allows for the tooth to hurt and most times this is severe pain. This syndrome is very hard for most dentists to diagnose. A fracture of this kind does not show up on an x-ray and it can’t be seen when looking in the mouth most of the time.

• Fractures that require just watching

Many people have small crack lines in their teeth and do not even know about it. There are some dentists that see these crack lines in teeth and recommend crowns for these teeth even though these teeth have no signs of pain. Teeth with superficial cracks in them may fall in the category of ones that should be watched. If symptoms of discomfort become present, if the x-ray of this tooth shows a problem, or if part of this tooth chips away, then the dentist should recommend some treatment to correct the problem related to the diagnosis.

• Chipped teeth

Biting on a pen at work is a bad habit. Getting hit in the mouth with a flying object of some sort is bad luck especially when it chips your tooth. A chipped tooth that only enters into the first layer of the tooth is something to still get fixed.

• Decayed teeth that fracture

Tooth decay causes a weakening of tooth structure. This weak tooth structure does not need much force after decay sets in to invite a piece of tooth to fracture off. A decayed area often times is a silent problem with no pain or swelling and it is only discovered during a dental exam or when a piece of tooth structure fractures off.

5 Facts on Toothache Emergencies and Pain

by Emergency Dentist Raleigh NC, Dr. Thomas Cooke DDS

emergency dentist

Toothache Emergencies

It is Saturday night and a tooth ache occurs when no dentist is open. If your dentist has a good system for weekend emergencies, then you will be covered with help by calling the emergency dentist number. Some people will not have an emergency dentist number to call, especially since 50% of the adult population in the United States doesn’t even go to the dentist. This pain is a dull ache. It started as a sharp pain. It will not go away. The worst thing that can happen is that you will be up all night with pain and the next morning is Sunday.

• Best first step

Ibuprofen is the first best step. Taking Tylenol is not as effective because it is not an anti-inflammatory drug which is what is needed. The pain relief from this medication may not be enough so the next step is to find a dentist. If a dentist returns your call you are on your way to getting fixed up. If you can’t get a dentist to return your phone call on a weekend, then going to an emergency room at your nearest hospital or urgent care office is a good option. Your goal is to get some pain relief and possibly an antibiotic to get you stable until you can find a dentist that can help you with your dental emergency.

• Finding an emergency dentist

Finding a dentist that is good at dental emergencies is critical. You want your problem diagnosed and treatment started the day that you call. You do not want the dental office to schedule you for some later day in the week because you need immediate help. You can best find this dentist by asking a coworker, neighbor, or friend that has had a positive dental emergency experience. You can also look up emergency dentist on the internet and call some offices. Ask them a few questions about how they can accommodate you with your immediate needs. It is important to not be put off to a later time because this is a situation where you are in pain and you need help right away.

• If your tooth gets knocked out

There are over two million teeth knocked out in the United States every year and most of these are front teeth. Most of these front teeth can be saved with quick treatment. You must keep your tooth in milk or better than that, try to place the tooth back in its socket. Do not touch the root part of the tooth if possible.

• Best to not wait until it is an emergency

If you have a hint that something is going wrong in your mouth then you should seek out advice from a dentist as soon as you can to avoid a severe pain situation. Over half of the adult population in the United States does not have a regular dentist.

• Silent problems do exist in the mouth

The disease process in the body always starts out as a silent problem. This is not uncommon in the mouth. There will be very little to no discomfort related to the beginning of a cavity and it sometimes takes little time for it to develop into a large problem. Having checkups yearly will give you the confidence that you are doing your best to prevent problems that may exist from turning into large ones.

5 Facts on Dental Anxiety – Entophobia and Sedation Tips

by Raleigh NC Family Dentist Dr Thomas E Cooke DDS

dental anxiety

Entophobia or Dental Anxiety is a Normal Emotion

Dental anxiety or Entophobia, is basically a normal emotion related to people having some level of nervousness when visiting or when being treated by their family dentist. People are basically in fear of being hurt. People are also in a state of lack of control and do not know how long the visit will last and what is coming next. Will the person have to keep their mouth open for 5 minutes or 15 minutes? Will there be another shot? Will the last shot work? There is no exact age of the patient when this occurs. Some elderly people and children may experience this. Because dental anxiety exists, 50 % of the adult population in the United States does not go to the dentist.

• Causes of dental anxiety

Some people have dental anxiety because dentists have a reputation of causing pain. Others have dental anxiety because of some sense of embarrassment. Many patients go to the dentist and think that their dental condition is unique, and that their teeth may cause a reaction with the dental staff. They may think that your teeth are the worst that they have ever seen. The most likely reason why people have dental anxiety is because of a prior bad experience that they encountered. People must understand that bad dental experiences happen but can be prevented in the future if you find the right dentist for you. Children can have dental anxiety from their parents or other adults showing their fears of the dentist. It is true that some dentists cause dental anxiety because they are insensitive towards their patient’s need to be treated in a gentle manner. Dentists must be reminded sometimes that the treatment of a dental condition by itself is not all that the patient needs. Dental patients also need a high level of awareness by their dentist of their comfort needs. Dental instruments are also a main reason why some people have dental anxiety. The sound of the drill, the instrument tray with all the scary looking tools, and the syringe sitting out in the open, are all things that people are afraid of. These all cause dental anxiety.

• Coping with dental anxiety

Coping with dental anxiety is possible. Tell your dentist that you have dental anxiety. This is the first step. Have a system with your dentist to signal when you want the dental team to stop for a moment. Simply put your left hand up and that tells them you need a break. Sedation dentistry may be how you need to be treated in order to cope. This is basically being put to sleep or having your brain relaxed with medicine to help you cope with the stress and anxiety.

• Medicine to help with anxiety

When going to your  family dentist, you have the option to take medication to help you with your anxiety. There are many anti-anxiety medications that you can have prescribed. Your Dentist may be trained in giving you advice in this area or you may need to see your Medical Doctor.

• Going to a sleep dentist may be needed

When it becomes overwhelming for you to go to the Dentist and have your teeth worked on when you are awake, you can decide to find a Dentist that can put you to sleep for all your procedures. There are risks when patients are put to sleep. There are also increased costs. Some patients do not mind the risks and the increased cost and find this option of being put to sleep or having general anesthesia for their dental work to be their best decision.

• Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or oral sedation may be your answer

Nitrous oxide is a gas that has been used in dentistry for a long time to help patients get through procedures that are too difficult for them to handle without anti-anxiety help. It is simply a mask that is worn during the dental procedure that allows for the patient to breathe a special formula of gases that when combined allow for the relaxation that is needed. This method has been found to be very safe for the patient when administered correctly. After the nitrous oxide session, the dentist places the patient on 100% oxygen for 5 minutes and the patient feels back to normal.

Five Important Facts on TMJ Pain and Treatment

by Raleigh Emergency Dentist Dr Thomas E Cooke DDS

Causes of TMJ pain

Treating TMJ Pain

There are two joints in the head below the ears call the temperomandibular joints. These joints allow for the lower jaw bone to move and this aids in chewing, speaking, and breathing. The physical stress on these joints over one’s lifetime can be overwhelming and allow for problems to occur. The cartilage, muscles, ligaments and teeth in this area all contribute to the health of these two joints. When a joint disorder occurs in this area, the cause is typically unknown.

• Some known causes of TMJ

Many of the causes of TMJ problems are unknown, but there are a few that are known. One of the main causes of TMJ is a bad bite. Another is orthodontic braces. These two causes have been proven to be the reason why many people have this joint problem. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is another known cause of TMJ problems. It is important to note here that not all grinders have TMJ problems and not all people with TMJ problems are grinders. The fact is that the TM joint does get stressed out from something and grinding may be one of the things that stress some joints to the point where they have a problem. Some think that arthritis may be a cause.

• Factors that may make TMJ problems worse

Some factors can make a TMJ disorder worse. Not paying attention to good posture while sitting at work can significantly alter the TMJ and how it works. It is very important to have good posture. Stress can cause a TMJ problem to get much worse. Lowering the stress in life is always hard to do but there are things that can help. Exercising, working less, resting more are all non-medicine ways of reducing stress that work.

• Common medications you can use for TMJ disorders

There is a high level of inflammation in the TM Joint when someone has TMJ pain so it is important to take some short term anti-inflammatory drug to help alleviate the inflammation. Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants have all been used to help with this problem.

• Common treatments of TMJ disorders

For the most part TMJ disorders will go away on their own, in over 85 % of the cases, with a few conservative treatment steps from your dentist. It is important to consider a mouth guard to wear while you sleep to relax your facial muscles. It is also very common to take some kind of anti-inflammatory medicine to relieve the inflammation in the joint to allow it to heal. It has also been found to be very helpful to place warm moist heat on the sore joint for 15 minutes a day for a few days to help with the muscle stiffness.

• Ways to prevent TMJ disorders

Avoiding TMJ problems is often hard to do when the causes are sometimes unknown. The known causes allow for some suggestions. Eating anything real hard such as hard rock candy or chewing ice should be avoided. Focusing on relaxing should be very high on your list because this disorder mainly comes about during stressful times. Getting into the right posture when sitting at your work desk is also critical.

If you are suffering from TMJ pain, please consult your family dentist

Five Important Facts on Teeth Grinding – Bruxism Treatment

by Raleigh NC Family Dentist Dr Thomas E Cooke DDS


Teeth Grinding is Serious!

Many people under stressful conditions have been guilty of grinding their teeth. The grinding of teeth at night is called bruxism. The effects of grinding or bruxism can be critical if this condition is not kept under control. Waking up in the morning with headaches and a sore jaw are cardinal signs that you are grinding your teeth while you sleep. The reason people grind their teeth is because they are relieving stress and/ or they have a bite problem. Bruxism is a subconscious habit that must be stopped. It is important that you consult with your family dentist as soon as possible.

• The reason grinding occurs

Many Doctors believe that people grind their teeth to relieve stress. Others think that if a tooth is out of alignment then this may cause a person to grind or brux their teeth. It is critical that if you suspect that you have a grinding problem, that you see your dentist for an evaluation. There are medications that are available for people to relieve their stress, but wearing a mouth guard at night is your best first step.

• Possible results of long term tooth grinding

If you find yourself grinding or if someone hears you bruxing your teeth at night then you should seek out help from your dentist immediately. Chronic teeth grinding can cause fractured teeth or severe wearing down of teeth. If your grinding problem is not addressed early on then you could have jaw joint problems develop called temperomandibular joint syndrome. This jaw joint problem could get so severe that it requires surgery. Most jaw joint problems that result from bruxism will heal without surgery if treatment occurs soon after the problem starts.

• Tips to help you stop grinding

The best tip for a grinder or a bruxer is to see their dentist right away. Your dentist will check how your teeth are coming together and correct any bite problems that may be causing this. A mouth guard called an antibruxism guard would then be recommended and this is made by a dental laboratory. The patient may also be given special dietary restrictions along with recommendations for short term use of an anti-inflammatory drug to help with joint soreness. Avoiding alcohol has been recommended. Training yourself to not clench your teeth during the day is helpful. Holding a warm washcloth around your jaw joint has also been found to aid in muscle relaxation, which helps the grinder.

• Children and grinding

Because children’s teeth are changing everyday there are few options available for treatment of tooth grinding problems for the child. When a child reaches the age of 12, most of their baby teeth have fallen out and a mouth guard can be made for them.

• Surgery and grinders

Although a surgical procedure does exist for the patient that has a jaw joint problem from bruxism, it is the last resort of treatment recommendations. Jaw joint surgery over the last thirty years has had its place in medicine. The success rate for correcting TMJ problems of severe bruxism patients has been found to be no more successful that other less aggressive approaches.

Dr Thomas E Cooke DDS – Family Dentist

Five Important Facts on Tobacco and How it Harms the Mouth

by Dentist Raleigh NC Thomas E Cooke DDS

dental implications of smoking

Smoking is a leading cause of oral cancer

There is a great amount of scientific evidence proving that the use of smokeless tobacco and smoking can cause cancer in the mouth – it is an undeniable fact that tobacco harms the mouth. Snuff dippers have been found to have a fifty –fold increase in mouth cancer. At least eighty percent of all oral cancer patients are smokers. Tobacco (Nicotine) dependence and addiction has been compared to other addictive drugs both in humans and animals.

Tobacco(Nicotine) has been found to be very similar to morphine and cocaine in its abuse potential. Nicotine is basically a psychoactive drug producing dose related changes in mood and feeling in the brain. In addition to mouth cancer, tobacco plays a role in the disease process of peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, peptic ulcers, and fetal mortality.

Oral cancer from tobacco

Whether it is from chewing tobacco or smoking, the irritation on the tissue of the oral cavity from tobacco over a prolonged period of time causes a condition called Leukoplakia. Leukoplakia is a smooth white patch of wrinkled skin that results in cancer about five percent of the time. The most severe form of mouth cancer encountered by tobacco users is Squamous Cell Carcinoma. At least eighty percent of all oral cancer patients are smokers.

• Early signs of mouth cancer

Tobacco users should be aware of several danger signs of mouth cancer. A mouth sore that does not heal should be checked by your dentist. A white patch or lump in the mouth could be precancerous or cancerous. A prolonged sore throat, difficulty in chewing, and the constant feeling that something is stuck in your throat are other signs that should be evaluated.

• Smokeless tobacco effects on the mouth

In addition to the negative effects of the chemicals from smokeless tobacco on the heart rate and blood pressure, the teeth and gums are also harmed. Chewing tobacco causes abrasion on tooth structure which causes tooth decay and excessive tooth wear. Gum recession occurs from the constant irritation from the tobacco sitting on the tissue. This results in permanent damage to the soft tissue in that area which also leads to destruction of the root structure and bone that gets exposed.

• Different tobacco products are equally damaging

Smoking cigarettes allows for the rapid absorption of nicotine through the lungs. Cigar, pipe smoke, and smokeless tobacco users receive nicotine through the oral mucosa. Once in the blood, nicotine acts on the brain and the heart systems in identical fashion regardless of the method of absorption. The oral cancer hazards of smoking are similar to the hazards of smokeless tobacco.

• Gingivitis and tobacco use

Studies that have been done recently on smoking and the health of the gums in the mouth have shown that tobacco smokers have a higher rate of gingival redness, gingival bleeding, and enlargement of the soft tissue in the mouth called inflammatory enlargement.

Five Important Facts On Mouth Sores Causes And Treatment

by Dentist Raleigh NC Thomas E Cooke DDS

mouth sores and treatment

Painful Mouth Sores

Mouth sores can be very painful or just a bleeding mass of odd looking tissue. It is very important to use the ten day rule with any odd looking tissue in the mouth. If the mouth sore area of concern does not completely go away in ten days then you should see your dentist and have it checked. There are many causes and types of mouth sores. Any decrease in saliva can increase the chance of a mouth sore. Mouth sores can be non cancerous, precancerous or cancerous (see oral cancer).

• Mouth sore causes

There are many types and causes of mouth sores. They can come from a virus,a bacterial infection. They can come from physical trauma or irritation. They can come from some disorders of inflammation. They can come from unknown causes which is where the canker sore comes from. This is one of the most common mouth sores.

• Mouth sores from injury or irritation

Biting your cheek is more common that you would like to think. After biting it , the tissue swells up and the injury gets re-injured at your next meal because of the increased size of the tissue. This is a classic example of injury of tissue in the mouth that leads to a mouth sore. These are always painful until healing occurs.

• Mouth sores from infections

An example of an infection in the mouth that causes a mouth sore is a virus. An example of this is the common cold sore which is caused by a herpes simplex virus and it is commonly found on the lip. It is less commonly found on the palate. Another example of a mouth sore from an infection is from bacteria. This is caused from an organism that is normally found in the mouth that has overgrown into a pus-filled pocket which is called an abscess.

• Mouth sores from inflammatory disorders

Inflammatory disorders of the body can express themselves in the mouth as mouth sores. Examples of these are Behcet’s syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and lichen planus. These are all inflammatory disorders that show up in other parts of the body, but also show up in the mouth as a mouth sore.

• Treatment of canker sores aka apthous ulcers

To treat a mouth sore it is first important to find out the cause. It is important to keep the area of the sore clean by lightly brushing it or by rinsing with warm salt water. Once the Doctor finds out the cause of the mouth sore, the recommended treatment is then prescribed. Canker sores are also known as apthous ulcers.They have a 10 day healing period and their treatment varies. Some treat them with oral rinses and others use corticosteroids. Most treatment has little effect on the apthous ulcer and after ten days the pain and the mouth sore are gone. Apthous ulcers come about during stressful times. Some people get apthous ulcers from eating certain foods like chocolate, coffee, peanuts, eggs, cereals, almonds cheese and tomatoes. Some people have apthous ulcers come about a few times a year while some people have continuous outbreaks.

Five Important Facts To Understand Dry Mouth Problems

By Dentist Raleigh NC Dr Thomas E Cooke DDS

burning mouth

Dry Mouth or Burning Mouth

Many people at some point in their life experience an extreme dry sensation in their mouth called dry mouth. The technical medical term is called xerostomia. This can be very uncomfortable for many reasons. It is basically a decrease in the saliva production. It affects millions of people in the United States. The elderly and women are more affected. Saliva aids in the function of taste, speech, swallowing, and digesting foods. The lack of saliva disrupts everyday life in a big way. The lack of saliva can also be a major reason why people get tooth decay. It can cause something called burning mouth syndrome. Low saliva production can cause denture patients to have great difficulty wearing their dentures. There are over 400 medications known to cause dry mouth and because of this the elderly population can have an increase in tooth decay due to their new medication and not have awareness of this tooth problem until it is too late. There are many products on the market that actually stimulate the production of saliva and give some help to remedy this condition.

• Saliva is vital to many body processes

Saliva is important in allowing us to swallow, it helps our taste buds on our tongue function properly, it allows us to speak, and it plays a critical role in the digestion process. Without the correct amount of saliva, all these body processes will not function properly. Saliva is the main regulator of acidity in the mouth. When saliva is low, bacterial plaque builds up and cavities quickly form. Saliva is a constant cleansing mechanism for the mouth.

• Causes of dry mouth

Dry mouth can be caused by certain medications as a side effect, radiation to the head and neck, and many medical conditions. There are over 400 medications that cause dry mouth. You can ask your pharmacist to look up which of your medications might cause this if you are experiencing dry mouth. Cancer patients that receive head and neck radiation may experience dry mouth. If you are a cancer patient and are having head and neck radiation, you should see your dentist for some advice on dry mouth help. Seasonal allergies sometimes cause people to breathe through their mouths when they sleep and this causes dry mouth.

• Ways to help dry mouth

There are many products that have been found to help dry mouth. There are very effective moisturizing mouth washes and mouth sprays that increase the saliva count up to 2 hours which is very helpful during the day. There are also moisturizing gels and chewing gum that have been found to work. Sugar free hard candy has been found to increase saliva. People should drink lots of water. Chewing sugarless gum is very helpful.

Dry mouth causes tooth decay

It has been found that many people will experience and increase in tooth decay related to dry mouth. The bacteria that are responsible for the acid attack on teeth thrive in the dry mouth environment due to the lack of natural cleansing of the saliva. Sugarless candy with xylitol has been found to be very helpful.

• How to prevent tooth decay from dry mouth

There are several products that have been developed to strengthen teeth to prevent cavities from dry mouth. Prescription toothpastes, mouth rinses, and varnishes with high amounts of fluoride have been found to be very helpful in fighting off this problem. A visit to your dentist is the best step to getting a prescription for one of these products. If a person has a dry mouth problem, they should alter their diet to low acid foods. Also, the foods high in sugar should be avoided.

1 2 3