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Posts for: May, 2016

By Healthwest Dental Associates
May 16, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: anesthesia  

Controlling discomfort during dental work is one of our top priorities. Advances in anesthesia over the last century have made that objective easier to attain, especially for routine procedures.

The term anesthesia means “without feeling or pain.” It refers to the use of substances to prevent a patient’s nervous system from sensing pain. There are two basic types: general, through intravenous injection (IV) or gas inhalation that places a patient in an unconscious state; and local, which only affects the part of the body involved in the procedure while the patient remains conscious.

The latter type has become very important in dentistry, especially for mild to moderate procedures. Because teeth and gum tissues are rich in nerves, patients can have a heightened level of sensitivity that can increase anxiety and discomfort during dental work. Local anesthesia reduces that discomfort and relaxes both patient and dental provider.

We typically administer local anesthesia in two ways: by applying the anesthetic to the outside tissue surface (with a cotton swab, patch or spray) or by injection. The first type, topical anesthesia, is most often used to eliminate the pricking discomfort of the needle used to inject the main anesthetic. Using both applications eliminates any painful sensation at all — the only thing you might feel is a slight pressure during the procedure.

As mentioned before, local anesthesia benefits us as well as you. Knowing you’re at ease and comfortable allows us to better focus on the procedure — we’re not rushed to finish to spare you further discomfort. A relaxed, unhurried atmosphere is essential to a successful outcome for any dental procedure.

We’ve also found solutions for another issue with local anesthesia that concerns patients: the length of time the numbing effect lingers after a procedure. In response, the dental profession has developed different types of anesthesia that reduce this after effect considerably. We’re also more selective about what procedures actually require anesthesia — some, like routine teeth cleaning or work on the outer enamel (which doesn’t contain nerves), can usually be performed without it.

All in all, local anesthesia reduces your level of discomfort and increases our ability to be thorough in performing your dental work. You’ll not only find the experience more pleasant, but it will also enhance the quality of your care.

If you would like more information on alleviating pain and discomfort during dental work, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Local Anesthesia for Pain-Free Dentistry.”

By Healthwest Dental Associates
May 13, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

A missing tooth doesn't have to permanently alter your appearance. Thanks to dental implants, you can restore your smile with an dental implantsartificial tooth that feels and acts like the tooth you lost. Dr. H. Paul Hufham, III. and Dr. Bayne H. Heersink of Healthwest Dental Associates, PC, your Dothan, AL dentists, explain how dental implants work.

Implants get to the root of the problem

Dental implants replace the roots of lost teeth. Implants are made of titanium, a strong metal that bonds easily to bone. During the first step in the implant process, your Dothan dentist drills a small hole in your jawbone and places the implant inside. Over the course of the next several months, the implant will fuse to the surrounding bone, providing a stable anchor for the porcelain crown that will rest on top.

Implants offer many benefits

Implants offer a variety of benefits, including:

  • Improved self-esteem: It's difficult to feel proud of your appearance when there's a gap in your smile. Dental implants restore your smile and your self-confidence.
  • Long-lasting results: In many cases, your implant will last the rest of your life, while bridges and dentures will need to be replaced several times.
  • A strong jawbone: After you lose a tooth, your jawbone begins to recede and weaken because it's no longer stimulated by your tooth roots. Since implants replace roots, they provide the stimulation the bone needs to stay strong.
  • Better bite power: Your biting power is reduced with dentures, which means eating hard foods is impossible or difficult. Your dental implant provides a strong, stable foundation for your crown and makes it possible to continue to eat the foods you enjoy.
  • A cost-effective solution: Although the initial cost of dental implants is higher than the cost of bridges or dentures, you'll save in the long-run when you choose implants. Because implants don't usually have to be replaced, unlike bridges and dentures, you'll actually pay less when you consider the long-term costs.

Do dental implants sound like the perfect option for you? Call Dr. H. Paul Hufham, III. and Dr. Bayne H. Heersink of Healthwest Dental Associates, PC, your Dothan, AL dentists, at (334) 702-1101 to schedule an appointment. Restore your smile with dental implants!

By Healthwest Dental Associates
May 08, 2016
Category: Oral Health

For major-league slugger Giancarlo Stanton, 2014 was a record-breaking year. After the baseball season ended, he signed a 13-year, $325 million contract with the Miami Marlins — the biggest deal in sports history. But earlier that same year, Stanton suffered one of the worst accidents in baseball: He was hit in the face by an 88-mph fastball, sustaining multiple fractures, lacerations, and extensive dental damage.

After the accident, Stanton didn’t play for the remainder of the season. But now he’s back in Spring Training… and he’s got a not-so-secret weapon to help protect him against another injury: A custom-made face guard designed to absorb impacts and keep him from suffering further trauma.

As sports fans, we’re glad that Stanton was able to overcome his injury and get back in the game. As dentists, we’d like to remind you that you don’t have to be a major-league player to feel the harmful effects of a sports injury — and you don’t have to look far to find a way to protect yourself. In fact, you can get a custom-made mouthguard right here at the dental office.

Mouthguards have a long tradition in sports like football, boxing, and hockey. But did you know that far more Americans are injured every year playing “non-collision” sports like basketball, baseball — and even bicycling? And it doesn’t take a major-league fastball to cause a dental injury: The highest incidence of sports-related dental injuries occurs in 15-to-18-year-old males. In fact, about one-third of all dental injuries among children stem from various types of sports activities. These injuries may result in countless hours being lost from school and work, and cost significant sums for treatment and restoration.

Mouthguards have a proven track record in reducing dental and facial injuries: They are capable of absorbing the energy of a blow to the mouth, and dissipating it in a way that prevents damage to facial structures and teeth. But not all mouthguards are created equal: Custom-fabricated mouthguards, which are produced from an exact model of your mouth made right here in the dental office, offer by far the best protection. They fit better and safeguard the teeth more fully than any off-the-shelf or “boil-and-bite” type can. Plus, they’re more comfortable to wear. And let’s face it: No mouth guard can protect your teeth if you don’t wear it.

What’s more, some recent studies indicate that custom-made mouthguards may offer significant protection against concussion. An increasing awareness of the dangers that concussion may pose to athletes is one more reason why we recommend custom-made mouthguards to active people and their families.

To get his face guard, Giancarlo Stanton reportedly went to a specialist sporting-goods manufacturer in Illinois, and paid around $1,000. But you can get a custom-made mouthguard for yourself or your loved ones right at our office for a fraction of that price. And the peace of mind it can give you is… priceless.

If you have questions about custom-made mouthguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry” and “Athletic Mouthguards.”