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!

5 Tooth-Friendly Foods in 2017

african american woman drinking water

Eating healthy is great for our bodies, but it’s also important for your teeth. If you’re looking for some new foods to include in your diet, or even wondering what you can keep on the menu, here are a few of our favorite tooth-friendly foods.

Calcium-Rich Dairy

Your bones love calcium, and guess what? So do your teeth! Cheese, yogurt, and milk are all great nutrition options that benefit your teeth. Calcium helps strengthen tooth enamel, which is the outer layer of teeth that protects against bacteria. Studies found that cheese lowers the pH in the mouth, too, which lowers the risk of tooth decay. The probiotics in yogurt (cultures of good bacteria) crowd out much of the bad bacteria in your mouth to provide even more benefits to your gums.

Crisp Fruits & Veggies

Celery, carrots, and apples are all great foods to snack on. Their consistency scrubs teeth while you chew, removing some of the bacteria that may be stuck there. Chewing these kinds of crunchy food can also stimulate saliva production in your mouth, which helps to rinse out your mouth.

Protein

Like calcium, protein helps strengthen tooth enamel. Since protein is also good for your overall health, consider adding some protein-rich foods to your diet. Nuts, cheese, and lean meats like chicken are all great ways to get more protein.

Thirst-Quenching Water

Not only does water have no calories (so it’s not detrimental to your waistline), but it also helps to cleanse your mouth of bacteria and leftover food particles. Suffering from a dry mouth? Hydrate with water!

Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing gum after a meal may actually help clean your mouth out! The act of chewing helps produce more saliva, cleaning out leftover food after a meal. The sugar-free variety of chewing gum is always best because you don’t want to add more sticky sugar and bacteria to your teeth.

Want to learn more about how your nutrition affects your oral health? Talk with us at your next appointment! We want to help make sure that your smile is healthy and beautiful for a lifetime.

The Dental Veneers Process

young blonde woman going through dental veneers process

So you’re ready to make over your smile with porcelain veneers. But what’s the process going to look like? After you come in for a consultation and we’ve decided on a new look for your smile, the process is pretty straightforward. Two appointments is all it takes to get your new smile red carpet ready!

Step 1: Prepping the Teeth

When you come in for your first appointment, we’ll begin by prepping your teeth for your new dental veneers. Veneers are a permanent process because we do remove some tooth enamel from the teeth getting veneers. We have to do this in order to ensure that the teeth with veneers don’t feel larger than your other teeth. Veneers are essentially shells that go on top of your teeth, so in order to not add bulk, we first have to take away some of the natural tooth structure. We file down the teeth just a bit until they’re a good size to hold your veneers.

Step 2: Impressions & Shade

Once we’ve filed down the teeth, we take impressions of your teeth to send to the lab. This gives the lab an idea of the shape your new veneers need to be. We also use a color guide to determine the shade of your new veneers. We want them to look natural and blend in with surrounding teeth. If the goal is to give you a whiter smile, we’ll do this in a way that still looks natural instead of brightening them so much that it’s obvious they don’t match other teeth. We send your impressions and the tooth shade information to the lab to have your veneers made.

Step 3: Temporaries?

If you need temporary veneers while we wait for your permanent ones to come in, we’ll make those in-house and place them during your first appointment. Whether we place temporaries depends on how much tooth enamel we removed. While your temporaries are on, you’ll want to be careful about what you eat and drink. If you have any trouble with your temporaries, just give us a call!

Step 4: Evaluation & Cementation

When your permanent veneers are ready, you’ll come in for your second appointment. We’ll first try them on and make sure everything fits and looks right. Once we’re sure that you’re satisfied with your new look, we’ll bond the veneers in place. Your new smile is complete and you’ll be on your way!

It may take a few days or weeks to get used to your new smile, depending on how drastic the change is. We may recommend one more follow-up appointment just to see how you’re doing. And remember, once your new veneers are set, you can care for them just like your natural teeth! Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to give us a call!

Do Teeth Shift with Age?

multigenerational african american family

When we think of aging, we think of wrinkles and gray hair. But your teeth may also be affected as the years go by.

Teeth Spread Apart

Teeth can spread apart when a muscle in the front of the mouth relaxes as we age. Periodontal disease, caused by bacteria living under gum tissue, can also lead to spreading. The bacteria cause inflammation and the destruction of the bone which holds the teeth in, resulting in a flaring of the front teeth that can cause them to space apart. The spread could also be the result of an unconscious oral habit like tongue thrusting or nail biting, or bite collapse due to the loss of some of your back teeth.

Teeth Overlap

As we age, our teeth sometimes start to move, shifting the midline as our jaw bone changes. The midline is, of course, the middle line of the teeth and the ideal positioning of teeth is on either side of the midline to be symmetrical. When your jaw bone changes with age, this can make the teeth crowd towards the middle and overlap.

Teeth Collapse

Teeth can collapse inwardly if you have gapped teeth, don’t replace a missing tooth, or if your teeth are severely worn down. This alters the structure of your teeth, but can also change your facial features and jaw position. Like most other issues, poor oral health can contribute to teeth collapse.

It’s interesting to note that if you had orthodontic treatment when you were younger, it’s actually more common for your teeth to shift slightly. This can happen because you neglect to wear your retainer, you grind your teeth, or you don’t treat underlying oral problems like gingivitis that can lead to crooked teeth if gone untreated.

So how can we fix these problems or stop them in their tracks?

Nightguards

Nightguards are for people who grind their teeth at night, a condition known as bruxism. You might not even realize you are doing it! We fit nightguards specifically to your teeth so you can sleep comfortably while protecting your teeth from harmful grinding.

Veneers

If some of your teeth have cosmetic flaws like gaps or crookedness, porcelain veneers can fix all of that and more with a natural look and feel. Veneers are a wafer-thin material that we place on the front side of the tooth, and they are a permanent solution.

Regular Checkups

Perhaps most importantly, keeping up with your oral health is the best way to keep any shifting at bay. Be sure you’re coming in for regular checkups and practicing good dental hygiene at home!

Whether you are looking to fix an already existing issue or want to keep teeth shifting at bay, call us to make an appointment. At Henson Family Dental, our commitment is to provide you with the best treatment to give you the smile of your dreams.

What’s the Difference Between a Dental Bridge & a Partial Denture?

illustrated question mark person sitting on top thinking

Don’t waste any more time feeling insecure about your missing teeth! There are plenty of incredible dental procedures that will give you the Hollywood smile you’ve been dreaming of, such as dental bridges and partial dentures. Not sure what those are? Here is some helpful information to get you in the know.

Bridges

Named for their ability to bridge the gap created by missing teeth, bridges have two or more crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap, with a false tooth or teeth in between. These crowns on the anchoring teeth provide the support needed for the false tooth to fill in the space. False teeth are often made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials.

You’ll need to make the health of the supporting teeth a priority in order for the bridge to stay strong and clean. This is a permanent procedure, so you’ll want to make an appointment with us to discuss if it’s the right decision for you.

Partial Dentures

Like dentures, partial dentures are a removable appliance. Unlike dentures, partial dentures don’t consist of a full set of teeth; rather they only have those teeth that need replacement attached to a plate molded to fit your mouth. This plate is often made of pink acrylic to mimic your gums, and has a metal framework that holds the partial denture in place by connecting to your natural teeth.

With partial dentures, you’ll need to learn how to adjust to eating and speaking while wearing the appliance, which can be awkward at first. You’ll also need to learn how to insert, remove, and clean the partial dentures. If you decide to get partial dentures, we’ll show you how to care for the appliance.

Which Should You Choose?

When deciding between partial dentures and bridges, we’ll need to consider the structure of your teeth as both appliances function differently.

Partial dentures are often used when there are a large number of teeth that need replacement. They’re also used if there is a risk of more tooth loss. We use bridges when there are smaller gaps between teeth, especially when those gaps are on the same side of your mouth.

Since partial dentures are temporary and removable, they are easier to adjust and repair. Bridges, meanwhile, are permanent, but this means that they aren’t something you can lose or break as easily. Partial dentures also tend to be less expensive than bridges, but we can discuss payment plans and insurance coverage when you come in for an appointment.

Each requires different maintenance and upkeep, and you may need to consider your lifestyle when determining which is best for you.

At Henson Family Dental, we provide you with the best care. If you’re looking to improve your smile, make an appointment with us to discuss which treatment option is best for you.

Best Fish for Your Teeth

dinner plate salmon rosemary

Nutritionists and health experts recommend eating fish a few times a week as part of a healthy diet. But not all fish are created equal. Some are more nutritious than others while other types contain higher levels of pollutants such as mercury. Believe it or not, though, there are some varieties of fish that are particularly beneficial for your oral health. Include these three fish in your diet a couple of times a week to give your teeth and gums some essential nutrients to keep them healthy.

Salmon

Arguably the number one most recommended fish for healthy eating is salmon. This oily fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids reduce inflammation in the gums associated with periodontal disease. Stick to Alaskan wild-caught varieties since they contain less mercury than farm-raised fish.

Sardines

Small fish like sardines are great because they also give you a boost of important minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These are are all essential for building and maintaining strong teeth and bones. Sardines also contain one of the highest concentrations of omega-3s with 1,950mg per three-ounce serving. Opting for fish with soft bones, like sardines, gives you a double dose of nutrients.

Herring

Much like sardines, these small fish are packed with nutrients and are more affordable than Alaskan wild-caught salmon. A six-ounce serving of herring gives you over half your daily recommended intake of phosphorus as well as 14% of daily calcium and 17% of daily magnesium. The protein in herring also helps your body to produce collagen, which is necessary for repairing soft connective tissues such as the gums.

Henson Family Dental offers convenient and comfortable care for the whole family, and we provide all of our patients with a wide range of preventive, restorative, and cosmetic treatments to keep your smile healthy and happy. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment.

Animals with the Strangest Teeth

group of narwhals swimming

The animal kingdom is a vast set of odd beings. The odd features of these beings, though, may come as a surprise to you! Today, we’ll take a look at some of the strangest teeth in the animal kingdom.

Musk Deer

When thinking of large teeth, you probably think of carnivores, or at least animals that have the fierce mien to match their lengthy teeth. You probably don’t think of a deer. But the musk deer, or saber-tooth deer, has an interesting set of teeth. Generated in the musk gland, their distinct odor is the cause for the name “musk deer.” They have no antlers or facial glands, which normal deer have. All in all, it’s an odd animal with strange teeth, so it qualified for this list.

Helicoprion

The helicoprion, 290 million years old, is extinct. The fossils we’ve found, though are only tooth fossils because it had a cartilage skeletal system. Based on these fossils, scientists concluded that the fish had spiral teeth. Although it looks and behaves like a shark, it was a chimaera, a line of cartilaginous fish. Chimaeras stay around cold, deep waters of about 8,200 feet below sea level, unlike sharks who stay around warm waters. But chimaeras aren’t very good swimmers. They have four covered gills and one opening on each side of the head.

The name “helicoprion” means spiral saw in Greek. The geologist Alexander Karpinsky, who discovered the shark’s fossils in Kazakhstan, named it, but he and other scientists knew no use for its spiral saw! It was found out later that those teeth rotated backwards when the shark bit down on prey in order to push the food into its mouth.

Karpinsky thought the teeth were on its snout and the snout curled up, but the American ichthyologist Oliver Hay found another fossil in 1907 which showed him that the teeth were in the mouth. The Danish paleontologist Svend Erik Bendix-Almgreen found decades later a larger and more complete fossil in Idaho, which confirmed the teeth’s position. This fish was a truly dangerous animal with strange teeth.

Narwhal

The male narwhal – or the unicorn of the sea, as it’s called – is an animal with one, and sometimes two, 10-foot tusks jutting straight out of its head. These mysterious whales live in the arctic waters around Russia, Canada, Norway, and Greenway. Only about 80,000 exist, and because of the pollution which kills them and their food supply, that number may soon decrease to zero. They average about 4,200 pounds and can grow up to 17 feet long.

But what’s so special about this animal’s teeth? Its unicorn-like tusk is actually a tooth! This tusk holds millions of nerve cells, and narwhals sometimes fight in a friendly way with them. We would certainly say that’s one strange tooth!

With all this tooth talk, don’t forget your own teeth. You want none of your teeth to have odd features and strange capacities, but if you do think they’re feeling a little odd, contact Henson Family Dental so that we can help get your teeth back to normal.