My Blog

Posts for: January, 2018

By Healthwest Dental Associates
January 24, 2018
Category: Oral Health

Too many patients wait until they're experiencing expensive and painful dental problems before they visit the dentist. Many of those issues preventative dentistrycan be avoided with simple and inexpensive preventative treatments. Gain a better understanding of the importance of preventive care so that you can put a checkup visit to HealthWest Dental Associates in Dothan, AL, at the top of your priority list this month.

What Is Considered Preventive Dental Care?

With preventative care, your Dothan, AL, dentist can treat your smile before a dental disease has a chance to develop and progress. The goal is to prevent problems by keeping your mouth clean and your teeth strong and free of tartar buildup. Preventative care may also involve looking at your medical history to ensure that the condition of your teeth is not affecting your overall health.

Why Preventive Care Is Important

To better understand why preventive care is so important, all you need to do is look at a few key statistics:

  • About 27 percent of adults have untreated tooth decay according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey.
  • Almost half of American adults have gum disease according to the CDC.
  • Over 178 million Americans have at least one missing tooth and 40 million are missing all of their teeth according to the American College of Prosthodontists.

Many of these dental health statistics wouldn't be as concerning if more Americans would go to the dentist for preventative care on a regular basis.

Preventive Treatments That Can Help You

Most preventative treatments can be performed at your next checkup appointment with your dentist. See this list of common preventive treatments to decide what you may need:

  • Professional teeth cleaning and scaling if there's plaque buildup.
  • X-rays to check the health of your bone and tooth canals.
  • A dental crown to protect a weak or unattractive tooth.
  • Dental sealants and fluoride treatments (common for children).
  • Laser decay diagnosis, which checks for signs of tooth decay.
  • Night guards to stop bruxism, which causes enamel wear and tear.

When Is the Last Time You Saw a Dentist

If it's a been more than six months since you've seen a dentist for preventive care, take action and contact HealthWest Dental Associates in Dothan, AL, for a checkup in the coming weeks. Call (334) 702-1101 today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bayne Heersink or Dr. H. Paul Hufham, III.

By Healthwest Dental Associates
January 17, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

Since their introduction over three decades ago, dental implants have evolved into dentistry’s premier tooth replacement choice. While their primary purpose is to replace missing teeth and rejuvenate a patient’s smile, they’re also regarded for another important benefit: they can slow or stop bone loss accelerated by the loss of teeth.

Like all living tissue, bone has a life cycle. Older bone dissolves and is absorbed by the body, a process called resorption. New bone forms and grows to replace the resorbed bone in response to stimuli occurring within the body. In the jaw, this stimulation comes from the forces the teeth receive when we bite or chew.

When a tooth is lost, however, it no longer transmits these force stimuli to the adjacent bone. This results over time in less new growth to replace resorbed bone, and the overall bone mass shrinks. In fact, about a quarter of the normal bone width will diminish in the first year alone after tooth loss. Other serious problems follow, like gum recession or chewing and speaking difficulties. A person’s appearance may also suffer, because as resorption continues unchecked, the underlying foundational bone will continue to shrink. As more teeth are lost, a decrease in the distance between the nose and chin may result causing the lower third of the face to become smaller in size.

Dental implants can interrupt this process by encouraging bone growth around the implant. Implants are made of “osseophilic” titanium, meaning the metal has a natural affinity with bone. After implantation, bone cells will begin to grow and attach to the titanium post. The enhanced growth stabilizes bone loss by providing stimulation to the bone as teeth once did, thereby maintaining bone levels and minimizing potential effects on the patient’s appearance.

Ironically, too much bone loss could make the installation of implants more difficult, since they require a minimum level of bone mass for anchorage. Receiving an implant as soon as is practical once a tooth is lost will minimize the chances of that occurring — and a better chance of improving bone health overall.

If you would like more information on how dental implants improve bone health, 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 “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”

By Healthwest Dental Associates
January 02, 2018
Category: Oral Health

Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.

As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.

Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.

Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.

Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome.┬áIf you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”