What’s the Best Time of the Year to See the Dentist?
You know you’re supposed to go in to the dentist every 6 months, and you’re even one of those people who really tries, but getting an appointment scheduled is still a hassle. You may be trying to schedule to minimize time away from work, reduce time spent in the waiting room, minimize time your child is out of school, etc. Well it turns out that even in dentistry there are busy seasons and slow seasons.
Recent research on dental economics shows that the busiest times of the year in the dentist office are May and December, followed closely by June. The slowest months of the year are September, October and then March. This means that if you want to have the pick of the schedule, try making an appointment for the Fall or early Spring. In fact, if you got yourself on a rotation of coming in every year in March and September you’d never have to worry about overcrowding. If you’re a parent who is concerned about missing school, try for a July appointment. At most pediatric dentist offices August is extremely busy as many parents make the dental visit part of the back-to-school routine.
Interestingly this does not coincide with other dental treatment. The slowest months for crown and bridge work are April and August while December through February are extremely busy. Many patients schedule dental work towards the end of the year to break up the expense between two calendar years for dental insurance purposes. This allows them to submit a portion of the claims under the previous year in December and the balance in the New Year. If this is not relevant to your situation try scheduling your work in the summer months to enjoy a slower pace in the office and a wider range of scheduling options.
The hope is that you’ll take advantage of these slower times of the year to schedule your dental visit rather than looking for a dentist who works nights and weekends. If you really think about it do you want to see a medical practitioner that’s been working for 12 hours that day to be able to see you in the evening? Studies have shown that for most people their most effective work hours are in the morning when their mind is fresh and focused. Going to the dentist is not the same as going to your 24 hour Walmart. The goods you buy on the shelf at Walmart are the same whether you get them at 9am or 3am, but your dentist is not. If your dentist is seeing you on the weekend they’re likely wishing they were somewhere else, or thinking about the family activities they’re missing out on. The staff at Aesthetic Dentistry, P.C. want to ensure our patients get our absolute best every time and we value our family time and the chance to recharge. We’re here Monday-Friday 7am-3pm to make sure our patients get a quality dental appointment every time they come in.
My Child Has a Cavity, What Went Wrong?
For many parents getting the news that their child has a cavity is a major shock. In a lot of cases these are good parents who get their kids to brush their teeth twice a day and do their best to avoid sugary drinks, but still somehow they end up with a cavity or two. If this is your situation you may have some parent guilt and be wondering what you did wrong. Rest assured that you’re in good company. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 42% of children will have at least 1 cavity by age 11.
Cavities are caused by bacteria on the teeth that break down the enamel and cause decay to occur. Over time this decay can lead to even more serious health problems such as infection, pain, a slowing of speech development and other serious illnesses. It’s important to get a cavity addressed, even in a baby tooth. Depending on when the cavity is found by the dentist your child could have that tooth for several more years, longer for molars, and putting off treatment could end up impacting the permanent tooth coming in behind it.
There are a few suggestions to follow to help prevent the development of cavities:
Brushing – certainly your child should be brushing 2 times per day, but you may not realize that an adult should do at least 1 of those brushings each day until the child turns 6. Prior to that it’s difficult to ensure that the child will do a thorough job each time. After age 2 your child should brush using a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste. This fluoride can help to restore the minerals that have been lost due to the bacteria.
Flossing – many parents assume flossing is unnecessary until adult teeth come in however it’s actually recommended that children floss 1 time a day as well. The bacteria will build up between teeth where the toothbrush is unable to reach. You may get lucky and have a child with gaps between their teeth but if the teeth are close together flossing is a must.
Sealant – for children who are at high risk for cavities, or already have a history of them, the dentist may recommend a sealant be used to protect the teeth. This is especially common on molars. A sealant is a plastic material that bonds to the tooth and prevents bacteria from getting trapped in deep groves on teeth which the toothbrush can’t reach.
Diet – avoiding foods that are high in sugar or starch especially between meals or just prior to bedtime. Foods such as chips, candy, sugar cereals, gum, soda, cookies, and chewy granola bars are all especially hard on your teeth. Instead encourage your child to snack on fruit, veggies, cheese, pretzels, milk, and peanut butter.
It’s extremely important that you bring your child to the dentist regularly. The recommendation is to start around age 1 and bring them in every 6 months for a check-up. The dentist can not only look for evidence of cavities but also give suggestions on modifying oral hygiene and other habits that can help prevent cavities from developing.
What is TMD?
TMD stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and is not the same as lock jaw. The temporomandibular joint is what attaches your jaw to the bottom of your skull. You have one of these joints on each side of your mouth. This joint is actually one of the most complicated in your body as it allows your jaw to move up and down as well as side to side and in and out. Most people experiencing TMD are in pain because the piece of cartilage in the joint has slipped out of place. This can be caused by some type of injury or dislocation of the jaw or from grinding your teeth or arthritis.
TMD is typically something patients seek a dentist or doctor for after experiencing jaw pain that has persisted for a period of time. In most patients the pain originates at the back of the jaw and will radiate through the face, ear, jaw and mouth areas. It can result in difficulty chewing and swallowing, as well as a clicking or locking of the jaw joint. For many patients’ muscle spasms, toothaches and headaches also occur.
If you are experiencing jaw pain, you may not know whether to go to the doctor or the dentist, but in reality either one is a good starting point. Both your family physician and your dentist are able to assist you in determining the cause of your pain and coming up with a treatment plan.
TMD does go away on its own in some patients, but for others it’s a chronic problem that will require medical intervention. A visit to the dentist can be a good starting point. Take note of a few things prior to your visit to make sure you get the most out of it:
- Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
- Roughly when did the symptoms begin?
- Has this ever happened before?
- Does your jaw click or make a popping sound when you move it around? If so, is that painful?
- Is there anything specific that triggers the pain?
- Are you able to open your mouth normally?
- Is your stress level higher than normal?
- What are your symptoms?
Being able to provide this information can help the dentist determine the best course of action going forward. He or she may refer you to a specialist for further testing and treatment depending on the severity of your situation. There are a few things you can try at home before coming in to the dentist. Try applying either ice or warm, moist heat to the side of your face to reduce the pain. Limit the use of your jaw muscles by eating softer foods or smaller bites. Massage the muscles in your jaw and do exercises to strengthen them.
If you’ve tried these remedies with no improvement, or if your pain is severe, its recommended that you reach out to a medical professional to begin treatment. The team at Aesthetic Dentistry P.C. is available to get you started on the path to healing.
General Tso’s Soup
Looking for something easy to make that will warm the whole family on a cold winter evening? Try this delicious slow cooker recipe with the incredible flavors of General Tso’s chicken. You’ll have it in the crockpot in less than 15 minutes and ready for you to eat when you get home this evening.
1 c water
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 c. tomato juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp peanut oil
½ c. chopped pickled cherry peppers
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 ¼ c. chopped onion
1 lb pork, ground beef or shredded chicken
1 c. chopped broccoli
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
¼ c chopped green onions
Combine all ingredients except sesame seeds and green onions in the crockpot. Stir then cook covered on low for 4 hours. Top with sesame seeds and green onions when ready to serve.