5 Tips to Stop Chronic Dry Mouth

A young blonde woman looking away sits in the sand in the middle of a dry desert with a dry mouth

Have you ever had the uncomfortable feeling that your mouth is incredibly dry, almost like a desert? Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands produce less saliva than normal. Dry mouth causes discomfort and can lead to oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease if left untreated. Here are 5 tips for stopping chronic dry mouth!

Tips to Stop Dry Mouth

  1. Drink Plenty of Water
  2. This may seem like an obvious tip, but drinking water is maybe the best way to combat dry mouth. Dry mouth often happens due to dehydration, a problem you can easily solve by drinking more water. As an reminder to drink more water, keep a full glass of water next to you so can stay hydrated all day long. If dehydration isn’t the reason for your dry mouth issues, drinking water will still help by increasing the amount of saliva in your mouth and washing away any problematic bacteria from your mouth.

  3. Chew Sugarless Gum
  4. The simple act of chewing sugar-free gum is actually really great for your mouth because it increases the flow of saliva and eases your dry mouth symptoms. The common sugar replacement, xylitol, found in many sugar-free gums can also reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth that cause decay and bad breath. Sugarless mints and candies have a similar effect by stimulating salivary flow, as well.

  5. Try Not to Breathe Through Your Mouth
  6. Breathing through your mouth can dry out your mouth, so try to breathe through your nose when you’re resting. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose because of congestion or allergies, it may be a good idea to discuss those issues with your doctor and see if there may be a way to alleviate or combat your symptoms.

  7. Avoid Caffeinated Beverages
  8. Caffeine has a drying effect in your mouth and can often worsen your dry mouth symptoms. If you really need your cup of coffee, be sure that you drink a glass of water too. However, if your dry mouth is really bad and you need to cut out caffeine completely but still need something to help you stay awake, try making yourself a bowl of oatmeal in the morning filled with energizing foods like almonds and blueberries.

  9. Stop Smoking

    Smoking is very bad for your overall health AND your oral health. Cigarettes exacerbate dry mouth because smoking reduces your salivary flow. There are many resources that can help you stop smoking, including nicotine patches and gum, smoking cessation classes and support groups, herbal remedies, and even hypnosis.

Come Visit Us at Henson Family Dental

Another surefire way to combat dry mouth is by practicing good oral hygiene every day and coming in to see us for biannual cleanings and checkups. Call us today if you have any additional questions about dry mouth or to schedule your next dental appointment!

How to Become a General Dentist

Five Boggle letter cubes spell STUDY on a wooden table against a background of two stacks of books

Have you ever considered a career in dentistry? Or maybe you have just been wondering about the education process for dental professionals. Here’s a look at the educational journey of a general dentist.

Applying to Dental School

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Before Dr. Henson attended dental school, she first received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Florida State University. Although the requirements for admission to dental school vary, a bachelor’s degree is a standard across the board.

  3. Complete the Prerequisite Courses
  4. Dental schools also require that applicants have completed additional education courses that are sometimes termed ‘pre-med.’ For example, Dr. Henson’s alma mater, Meharry Medical College, requires the following additional courses:

    • General biology or zoology with lab
    • Inorganic chemistry with lab
    • Organic chemistry with lab
    • General physics with lab
    • English composition
    • Biochemistry
    • Calculus or statistics

  5. Take the DAT
  6. Prior to acceptance into dental school, applicants must have taken the Dental Admission Test (DAT). This test measures the general academic ability of the applicant, with four sections focusing on the natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning.

Attending Dental School

Generally speaking, dental school takes four years to complete. In some cases, students who take a combined bachelor’s and doctoral degree program may take less time to finish school. It’s usually two years of lectures, with lab work increasing in the second year. The final two years of dental school also includes some classroom lectures, but a large portion of time is spent completing clinical work in a dental office, under the supervision of your professors.

In order to become a general dentist, you must complete a graduate degree as a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).

Passing the Licensure Exams

After completing dental school, graduates must pass a rigorous national exam as well as a state-licensing exam in order to practice as a general dentist.

Questions? We Have Answers!

Reach out or connect via social media to our team at Henson Family Dental! We’re happy to discuss careers in dentistry with you. If you’re overdue for your next dental appointment, contact our office and schedule an appointment today.

Can I Write Off Emergency Dental Procedures?

A pink piggy bank that stores money stands against a darker pink background

Spring is in the air and April is right around the corner! While many of us may look forward to longer days, chances are a larger majority of us are dreading April’s arrival because of Tax Day. The taxman cometh every year, but there’s some extra anxiety about it this year in the wake of tax reform.

Can I Write Off Emergency Dental Procedures?

Before we dive into this question, please bear in mind that you want to check with your accountant or tax advisor to make sure that you are eligible to make these deductions.

The short answer is yes! But there are several qualifiers:

  • To write off dental work, you must itemize your deductions.
  • At least for 2017 and 2018 tax returns, the deduction for medical expenses must meet a threshold of 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). You may only deduct the amount of your total medical expense that exceeds 7.5% of your AGI.
  • Dental expenses that qualify for a tax write off must be medically necessary and preventive, while purely cosmetic procedures, like teeth whitening are not eligible.

Affordable Dental Care

Dr. Henson and our team at Henson Family Dental pride ourselves on making the financial burden of dental care as manageable as possible for our patients. We accept a variety of different dental insurance plans and third party financing to help you get the dental care you need when you need it. We accept and file most insurance claims and help you maximize your dental insurance benefits.

At Henson Family Dental, we also accept CareCredit® patient financing. This option allows our patients to split up the cost of their treatments into manageable monthly payments. Visit the CareCredit website for more information about this payment option.

Contact Our Office

Your smile is priceless and all of us at Henson Family Dental want to be sure that you can keep up with regular cleaning and preventive work. If you have any questions regarding your taxes, dental insurance, or other payment options, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

A History of Dental Science

Dentist sits with patient while he discusses her oral X-ray results

We’ve come along way from where dentistry began. To learn about the history of dental science and how modern dentistry came to be, we need to go back in time…

Ancient Times

Back in 5000 BC, a Sumerian text described “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay. This is the earliest known record of dental science. About 2,500 years later, an Egyptian scribe who was known as the first dentist, passed away. The inscription on his tomb read “the greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.” Much later, around 500-300 BC, Aristotle and Hippocrates wrote about treating gum disease and tooth decay, using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws, as well as removing teeth using forceps.

Middle Ages

Two important dental works were published in the Middle Ages. Artzney Buchlein’s Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth, the first book devoted to dentistry which covered topics like placing fillings and oral hygiene, was published in 1530 in Germany. Ambrose Pare, known as the Father of Surgery, published Complete Works forty-five years later in France, detailing treatment for jaw fractures and tooth decay, as well as tooth extractions.

18th Century

Yet another revolutionary text was published in 1723 by Pierre Fauchard, a surgeon from France known as the Father of Modern Dentistry. The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise on Teeth described dental science practices like basic oral function and anatomy, operating techniques, and dental construction. During the 18th Century, some of the first American dentists started practicing dentistry, the first dental chair was invented, and the first patent for porcelain teeth was created.

19th Century

The 19th Century saw many advances in education and science. An investment in dental science as a career lead to the opening of the first dental school and the creation of the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. Further establishing dentistry as an important medical discipline, the American Dental Association and the American Society of Dental Surgeons were created. Scientific achievements made in the 1800s include the commercial manufacture of porcelain teeth, tubed toothpaste, the reclining dental chair, use of anesthesia in oral surgery, using gold fillings for cavities, and more.

20th Century

The 1900s were a century filled with the creation of many organizations and practices including water fluoridation, the first dental hygienist program, the U.S. Army Dental Corps, and the American Board of Orthodontics. Other advancements in dental science include the electric toothbrush, Novocain, nylon toothbrushes, tooth-colored restorative materials for cosmetic dental work, the porcelain crown, and many more.

Next time you sit down in the dentist’s chair, think about the history of dental science and the ways in which its shaped our culture and our medical practices today. Contact us to schedule your next checkup and cleaning!

New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy Smile

Blonde woman in black dress standing in the snow in front of a black background holding a lit sparkler.

If you’re anything like our team, your New Year’s resolutions involve making positive changes in your life in some area. Whether its a healthier diet, an exercise regimen, or meditation, the new year is a great time to create a positive habit. At Henson Family Dental, we are encouraging our patients to come up with a New Year’s resolution for a healthy smile. If you’re stumped, we have a few ideas!

1. Make Flossing a Priority

A good preventive care regimen means brushing twice daily and flossing once each day. If you skip flossing, you aren’t cleaning about 40% of the surface of your tooth, creating a breeding ground for bacteria that produce acid and result in cavities. There are a variety of flossing tools on the market, from WaterPik® water flossers to floss extenders, that can make flossing easier and more convenient.

2. Limit Cavity-Causing Foods

Foods high in sugar and starch give the harmful bacteria in your mouth fuel to turn into acid that can cause tooth decay. Instead of reaching for a soda or candy, consider substituting for water or some fruit. You’ll be doing your teeth a favor!

3. Get the Smile You’ve Always Wanted

Many of our patients mention that they are embarrassed to smile in photographs because their teeth are stained or chipped. This year, make your smile a priority and consider some of our cosmetic dentistry services. We offer professional teeth whitening services, both at home and in the office, that can give you that bright, white smile you’ve always wanted. Dr. Henson can also place porcelain veneers that help to fix dental issues like chipped teeth or discoloration. Don’t waste any more time hiding your smile in the new year!

To ask our friendly team any questions or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Henson, contact our office today!

How You Can Get Your Kids to Brush Regularly

Mom and son in pajamas brushing their teeth together in the bathroom

At Henson Family Dental, we love providing quality dental care to the whole family. Many members of our team are parents themselves, and we understand firsthand that getting kids to brush their teeth can be a struggle. With the goal of helping our patients establish healthy dental care habits from a young age, we want to share some of our favorite tips to get your kids brushing regularly.

1. Brush at the Same Time

Kids want to be included, so if you make toothbrushing a family activity, they may be more likely to join in without complaining. Establish a regular family brushing routine so kids know what to expect. As an added bonus, you’ll get your own brushing out of the way!

2. Get a Wacky Toothbrush or Toothpaste

There are tons (and we mean tons!) of dental care products marketed especially toward kids. Next time you’re at the grocery store, have your child pick out the color of their own toothbrush. Or, use a toothpaste in an exciting flavor like cotton candy or bubblegum. Before you know it, your kids will look forward to trying their new tasty toothpaste once it’s time to brush.

3. Make a Game Out of It

As a parent, you know better than anyone what motivates your child. If you can turn brushing into a fun game by creating a rewards system or creating a game out of toothbrushing, your kids will begin to see oral care as a fun activity. And, if any parents reading this have come up with a successful game to encourage brushing, we’d love to hear about it!

No matter what tactic you use to get your kids brushing their teeth, it is important to establish good habits early that they can use for a lifetime. Once your children are old enough, be sure to explain the importance of brushing and flossing as a way to prevent more serious dental problems. To schedule appointments for you and your family or to ask us any questions, contact us online or by phone.

Effects of Smiling

brunette woman sitting in coffee shop smiling holding her phone

At Henson Family Dental, our goal is to help our patients get the smile they’ve always wanted. Whether it’s through our cosmetic dentistry services, like veneers or whitening, or through preventive measures that help maintain your health, we want our patients to show off their smiles. You see, the benefits of smiling go way beyond appearances.

The Science of Smiling

When you see or experience something that makes you happy, a signal travels from your brain to your cranial muscle to the smiling muscles in your face. Once those smiling muscles contract, you experience a positive feedback loop that reinforces your feeling of joy. So smiling is both a cause and an effect of being happy.

Positive Effects

Studies show that your brain keeps track of how often you smile, and that information is used to determine your overall emotional state. Additionally, smiling can reduce stress and generate positive emotions. For example, we often feel happier with children because they smile more. Smiling can also reduce stress and anxiety, as well as help lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

It’s Contagious

When someone smiles at you, your own mirror neurons trigger a smile back. In fact, studies have shown that it is much more difficult to keep a long face when you look at people who are smiling back at you. Smiling not only improves your own mood, it can improve the mood of everyone around you.

Now that you know about some of the beneficial effects of smiling, don’t waste another day worrying about your smile! If you’re hiding you smile because you’re embarrassed about crooked or stained teeth, call our office today. Dr. Henson will examine your teeth and go over your options. Our team will then create a customized plan to get the smile you’ve always wanted. To ask our team any questions or to schedule your next visit to our office, give us a call or use our online contact form.

How Can Healthy Food Protect Your Teeth

healthy fruits and vegetables no chalkboard background

When you think about caring for your teeth, you probably think about brushing, flossing, and visiting Dr. Henson regularly for cleanings and exams. While we certainly encourage all of that, there’s another, simple way to care for your teeth – the food you eat! We all know that sugary foods can contribute to tooth decay, but there are also foods that keep your teeth strong and healthy.

Cheese

Who doesn’t love cheese? With all of its dental health benefits, there’s even more reason to love this delicious food. Cheese can raise the pH level in your mouth and lower the risk of decay. Chewing cheese increases the saliva in your mouth, while the calcium and protein in cheese strengthen your tooth enamel.

Yogurt

Yogurt is chock full of healthy probiotic bacteria that can fight back against harmful, disease-causing bacteria. Yogurt, like cheese, is also high in tooth-strengthening calcium and protein.

Apples

We all know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it also keeps your dentist happy! Apples increase saliva production, which fights back against and washes away harmful bacteria and germs. The texture of the fruit also scrubs your teeth and stimulates your gums, although it’s no substitute for brushing!

Celery

Celery is another vegetable that can be considered nature’s toothbrush. Much like apples, its texture helps scrape away food and bacteria from your teeth. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C, which are good for your gums.

Almonds

Almonds are a great, healthy snack that is low in sugar. The calcium and protein in almonds helps protect your teeth while giving you something deliciously crunchy to snack on.

Which tooth-friendly food is your favorite? We encourage you to try these healthy snacks – your teeth will thank you for these tasty treats! To ask Dr. Henson what other steps she recommends to care for your teeth, or to schedule your next appointment, give our team a call.

Root Canal Treatment: What to Expect

man wincing in pain holding cheek

So, you need a root canal? Before you settle into the dentist chair, let’s go over what a root canal is, what you should expect during the procedure, and how to care for yourself post-treatment.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a procedure that repairs and saves a tooth that is badly decayed, damaged, or infected. During the treatment, the nerves and pulp (the damaged area of the tooth) are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected before it is sealed. Often the problem is caused by a cracked tooth, repeated dental treatment to the tooth, a deep cavity, or trauma. Without treatment, the tissue that surrounds the tooth becomes infected and abscesses could form.

What Happens During The Procedure?

We briefly touched upon what happens during a root canal, but let’s dive deeper into the entire process.

First, Dr. Henson will confirm that you need a root canal after you’ve scheduled an appointment to examine your infected tooth. During that initial visit, Dr. Henson and her team will take X-rays to see the shape of the root canals, determine if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone, and locate the exact spot of the decay.

Next, Dr. Henson and her team will administer local anesthesia to numb the area near the tooth. To keep the area dry and saliva-free, we’ll place a rubber dam around the tooth. Then, we drill an access hole into the tooth so that the pulp, bacteria, decayed nerve tissue, and any other debris can be removed from the tooth. We clean this area out using root canal files to scrape and scrub the sides of the root canals. We flush away the debris with water or sodium hypochlorite.

After cleaning the tooth, Dr. Henson and her team will seal it either same day or during another appointment if there is an infection that needs to be treated. Once the tooth is ready to be sealed, we’ll fill it with a rubbery substance that acts as a sealant. This substance completely blocks the entire root structure to prevent saliva and food from reaching the inner structures of the tooth and reinfecting it. A filling is also placed in the exterior access hole created at the start of the procedure.

Occasionally, we might need to further restore the tooth by placing a crown over the weakened tooth to protect it, prevent it from breaking, or restoring it to full function.

What Is the Recovery for a Root Canal?

For the first few days after the procedure, your tooth may feel sensitive due to inflammation, especially if there was an infection in the tooth. You can manage this pain with over-the-counter medications. Many patients can return to their normal activities as early as the next day, though. You’ll need to schedule follow up appointments with us, as well as practice good oral hygiene and avoiding hard foods for a time.

If you think you might need a root canal, contact us so we can see you as soon as possible and take care of the problem. At Henson Family Dental, we’re dedicated to providing you with the absolute best care!

How to Prepare for a Dental Emergency

first aid case to prepare for dental emergency

Just like a first aid kit, it isn’t a bad idea to have some items on hand for a dental emergency. Many people experience dental emergencies, even those who have excellent oral health. After all, you don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with major tooth pain and have no way of taking care of yourself. Here are a few items we recommend keeping on hand in case something happens.

Gloves for Sterile Handling of Tooth

If you have a knocked-out tooth or a tooth that gets out of alignment, it’s important to remember not to touch to tooth. You don’t want to spread bacteria. If you have a tooth knocked out, use gloves to pick the tooth up by the crown (the top part) rather than the root. If you touch the tooth with dirty hands, you risk spreading bacteria to the tooth. This could cause problems with trying to reattach the tooth. Place the tooth either back in the socket (if possible) or in a cup of milk until you can see us.

Similarly, if a tooth gets knocked out of alignment, you don’t want to touch the tooth with bare hands if you can help it. Put on some gloves and gently try to move the tooth back to its original position. Keeping the tooth and mouth area clean and sterile is very important. Even recently washed hands can still have bacteria that will easily spread to the inside of your mouth.

Salt or Kosher Salt

Salt and warm water rinses are one of the best things you can do if you’re having a toothache caused by a cavity, an abscess, or any other type of dental issue. Not only does warm salt water act as a sterilizing agent that can help with infections, but it can also bring some relief from the pain of a toothache. Gargling salt water can even help ease a sore throat! Just remember to use warm water, not cold or hot. Mix with a tablespoon or two of salt for a rinse, swish gently for several seconds, and spit out!

Cold Compress

Cold compresses are really useful for bringing down swelling. If you crack or fracture a tooth, you may start swelling up immediately. A cold compress can easily bring down swelling. Just apply the compress to the cheek area over the swelling. Do this a few times an hour, or however often you can handle it. Take an acetaminophen (not aspirin) to alleviate some of the pain, and call our office right away.

Many of the things you need for a dental emergency are usually on hand. Just in case, though, make a separate kit next to your first aid kit so you can easily find the items you need if you have a dental problem. Most importantly, keep our number handy so you can call us right away to schedule an appointment for emergency dental care!