timberlake dental

Same Day Crowns: Are They Better?

Advances in dental technology typically shoot for one of several goals: to make things more efficient, more effective or safer.  Because we want all of these things for our patients, we invest in the technologies proven to do all of those things.  One such technology is the CEREC machine, which enables us to make “same-day crowns”.

Advantages of Same Day Crowns for the Patient

A traditional crown is a two-appointment dental treatment that requires a waiting period of several weeks between appointments and the need to wear a temporary crown. There are several negative aspects to this that the same day crown overcomes, making it the better choice for a patient.

  • Only a Single Dental Appointment

Many of the benefits to our patients who opt for same day crowns come from the single dental appointment they require.  It’s hard enough to make one appointment in our busy day and age. If you work, you only have to take off work once.  If you need childcare, you only have to arrange it once.

For our patients who suffer from health-related anxiety, there is the benefit of having the treatment completed, so there is no time to worry before the final crown is placed.

  • No Temporary Crown

Temporary crowns serve the purpose of covering the prepared tooth and holding the space for the final crown during the waiting period between visits for a traditional crown.  There are many different types of temporary crowns, and some are better than others.  Often, patients state that temporary crowns are uncomfortable, rough, or ugly.  

Temporary crowns must be removable in order for the dentist to place the final crown.  For this reason, they use a temporary dental cement to hold the crown on the tooth.  Often, this cement loosens before the final crown is ready, requiring yet another visit to the dentist to re-cement the temporary crown.  A dislodged temporary crown can lead to tooth sensitivity and shifting of the neighboring teeth, which can cause the final crown to not fit.

The fact that same day crowns do not require a temporary crown is a huge benefit to the patient!

  • No Gooey Impressions

We know that most people hate the sticky, gooey dental impressions we take to make molds of your teeth.  In the past, that was the most accurate way to make a replica of the teeth.  Advances in technology allow us to recreate the exact shape, size and contour of the teeth with a digital three-dimensional scan.  This scanning technology takes thousands of tiny pictures of the teeth and stitches them together to form a 3D digital model of the teeth.  These scans are accurate to hundredths of a millimeter.

And they mean no gooey impressions to make you gag!

  • Crown Made In Office

In the traditional crown process, the dentist takes a mold of the prepared tooth and sends it to the lab, where a dental lab technician makes the actual crown.  With a same day crown, your dentist designs your new crown on the digital 3D model provided by the scan.  

Your dentist, who knows your teeth, your bite, and any other important information about your mouth, is the one designing your crown.  This leads to a better fit and better appearance of the new crown.  

Another benefit to this aspect of same day crowns is that if the crown does not fit, your dentist can see exactly where the problem lies and modify the next one to account for that issue.  And because it takes place in the dental office, you will not have to return for yet another appointment as you would with a traditional crown.

Do You Need a Crown?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer all of your questions about dental crowns and give you more details as to why a same day crown is the best choice.


When is a Toothache an Emergency?

Many people describe the pain of a toothache as the worst pain a person can experience.  Women tell us it is worse than childbirth.  Some toothaches can truly endanger your life.  Because there are different types of toothaches, this blog will aim to help you know when to seek emergency help.

Why Do Toothaches Hurt So Badly?

Teeth are hollow, and the inner chamber contains nerves and blood vessels that provide sensation and nourishment to the tooth.  The nerves are the source of the pain of a toothache when they experience an increase in pressure from the blood vessels that share their space.

The reason the pain is so severe is that the nerves and blood vessels are completely surrounded by hard tooth structure.  This means they are unable to swell outward, so an influx of inflammation results in an extreme increase in pressure.  So an irritant (usually bacterial toxins from a large cavity) produces an inflammatory response from the blood vessels inside the tooth, causing a sharp increase in pressure which stimulates the nerves to signal PAIN!

Which Tooth Problems are NOT an Emergency?

We never encourage anyone to ignore a tooth problem.  This is merely to distinguish between a tooth problem that requires an emergency visit from one that can be scheduled with the dentist at your convenience.  Most dental problems get progressively worse over time, so waiting too long to seek dental care may allow the problem to become an emergency.

The following are symptoms that indicate a non-emergency dental problem:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Sensitivity to sweets
  • Tenderness when you chew on a certain tooth
  • Gums that are sore when you brush and/or floss
  • A small chip or fracture of a tooth that does not cause pain

If you experience any of these problems, you should avoid the triggers that cause pain or discomfort.  You may need to drink room temperature beverages and avoid chewing on one side until you see the dentist.  You should also commit to keeping your teeth as clean as possible while you await your dental appointment.

Which Tooth Problems ARE an Emergency?

There are certain tooth problems that require emergency care.  Please note that if you or a loved one experience any of these, you should either call your dentist for emergency hours or go to an urgent care facility as soon as possible.

  • Any facial swelling from a tooth infection
  • An injury to the face that knocks a tooth completely out of its socket
  • An injury to the face or jaws that dislocates the jaw joint, preventing you from closing your teeth together normally
  • An injury that causes a deep cut or laceration, especially one that will not stop bleeding

It is actually the first one in this list (swelling) that is the most dangerous.  Any swelling in the face, head or neck associated with a tooth infection can spread to vital areas and cause death in the most severe cases.  There are countless cases of tooth infections spreading into the airway, bloodstream or brain and leading to death due to a lack of emergency intervention.

Because the other three involve trauma, most people will already know to seek urgent care.  However, many people misunderstand the serious nature of tooth infections and swelling, thinking it can be put off until a more convenient time.

Another very important thing to understand is that tooth infections can spread without causing any pain at all!  Any swelling, with or without pain, is an emergency situation and should be treated as such.

How to Prepare for Dental Emergencies

The very best thing you can do to prepare for a dental emergency for yourself or a loved one is to establish a good relationship with a local dentist.  At Timberlake Dental, we provide emergency on-call services to patients with whom we have established relationships.

If you have not yet established a consistent relationship with a local dentist, call us at 940-382-1750 today to schedule a new patient evaluation.  We can inform you of any areas of potential tooth problems and help you treat them before they develop into an emergency.

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Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, affects millions of Americans.  Studies have linked it with serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.  No one should ignore gum disease.  The problem is that it can be a “silent disease”, meaning it does not hurt.

People with gum disease often have no idea that anything is wrong until they see a dentist.  The diagnosis of gum disease requires a dental evaluation, gum measurements, and close-up x-rays of the teeth.  This blog will describe some of the signs of gum disease, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security if you do not see any of these in your own mouth.  Only an in-person visit with your dentist can confirm the presence of absence of gum disease.

Inflamed Gums (Gingivitis)

In its earliest stages, gum disease consists of inflamed gums.  Inflammation causes redness, swelling, tenderness and a tendency to bleed easily.  Gingivitis makes the gum tissue look bright red or purple in color, swollen or puffy in size, and shiny in texture.  The gums may bleed very easily when you brush or floss.  Gums that bleed spontaneously or when you eat have severe inflammation!

This inflammation is the body’s natural response to plaque buildup.  Plaque contains bacteria and bacterial toxins.  The toxins irritate the tissue and cause the inflammatory response of increased blood flow.

The first step in treating gum disease is always cleaning the teeth and making sure they are free from plaque and tartar buildup.

Black Triangles

Black triangles is a term we use to describe the small opening that can develop between the gums and the contact where two teeth contact each other.  The gums should extend up to a point, completely filling in the space between two teeth.  As plaque and tartar buildup accumulates between teeth, the gums pull away and create a black triangle.

New Areas of Food Impaction

If you notice a new area between teeth that is collecting food during meals, you may have lost some gum attachment in that area.  The change is what is noteworthy.  If you never noticed the problem before, and all of a sudden, you get good caught with every meal, something is changing with your gums.  And that change is not a good thing.  It doesn’t always indicate gum disease.  Sometimes food impaction occurs as a result of a large cavity or a broken filling.  The food impaction itself can lead to gum disease in even the healthiest mouth, so it is important to have your dentist evaluate it as soon as possible.

New Gaps between the Teeth

Are you developing small spaces between your teeth?  Does it seem like your teeth are “spreading out”?  This is often a sign of gum disease.  As the periodontal disease destroys the bone around the teeth, they begin to shift outward, causing small gaps to appear.

Receding Gums

As the gum disease destroys the tissue holding the teeth into the jawbone, the gums may also pull away from the teeth or recede.  Gum recession exposes the roots of the teeth and can cause sensitivity to temperature changes and sweets.  The exposed roots are more susceptible to cavities because they do not have a protective coating of enamel.

Gum recession is difficult to correct, so do not wait until your gums have receded to seek dental treatment!

Loose Teeth

Permanent teeth should never feel loose.  If you have one or more teeth that are loose, especially visibly loose, you may already have severe periodontal disease.  The looseness results from a loss of the attachment of bone and gum tissues around a tooth.  This loss of attachment is a result of the attack of bacterial toxins on the supporting foundation of bone.  Eventually, the disease destroys enough bone that there is little support for the tooth, and it becomes loose.

Concerned about Gum Disease?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can assess your risk and help you treat any gum disease as soon as possible.

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Why Do Dental Implants Fail?

Dental implants have an extremely high success rate, higher than most other types of dental treatments available today.  Failure of a dental implant is rare.  In many cases, the reason for failure is unknown.  In others, the reason is a little more obvious.  This blog will explain some of the known reasons implants can fail.

What is Dental Implant Failure?

The job of a dental implant is to attach to the bone in the jaws and provide a firm anchor for restoring a missing tooth or teeth.  A dental implant failure includes both the failure of a new implant to attach and the loss of attachment of an established implant.  The implant does not have contact with the bone.

Interestingly, dental implant failures typically do not hurt.  Most people are completely unaware that there is a problem with the dental implant until it becomes loose.  Those who see the dentist regularly for yearly x-rays may find out before any looseness occurs because the x-rays will show the loss of bone attachment.

A failed dental implant may simply fall out.

What Causes an Implant to Fail?

There are two different types of implant failure that occur during two different phases in the life of an implant.  The first is during the implant’s initial healing phase.  In failure to attach, the implant does not attach to the bone during the healing process.  The usually occurs within the first year after the implant placement surgery.

The other type of failure occurs when a healed and fully functioning dental implant loses its attachment to the bone.  This can occur at any time in the implant’s lifespan.

Failure to Attach

The most important factor in a dental implant’s healing is blood flow to the surgical site.  Blood brings the cells and nutrients necessary for building bone onto the surface of the dental implant.  Therefore, anything that compromises or restricts blood flow leads to a very high risk for implant failure.

The two biggest culprits in early dental implant failure are smoking and diabetes.  This is because they both cause the tiny blood vessels in the gums (and many other areas of the body) to constrict, reducing the amount of blood that can get to them.  Reduced blood flow also affects the nerve endings in the gums, so you typically do not feel any type of problem.

This does not mean it is impossible for people who smoke or have diabetes to get dental implants.  It means you must take some pre-operative measures to improve blood flow to improve your chances for success.  Smokers should stop smoking for the longest period possible.  Diabetics should work to control their blood sugar as strictly as possible.

Loss of Attachment

Loss of attachment around a fully healed and normally functioning implant is a completely different ballgame.  This is an implant that did have an attachment to the bone and lost it.  If you are familiar with chronic or severe periodontal disease, then the phrase “loss of attachment” may ring some bells.

A dental implant can lose its attachment to the bone for some of the same reasons a tooth can lose attachment in periodontal disease.  The bone “backs away” from irritants, pulling away from the tooth.  These irritants can be toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque and tartar buildup.  They can also be inappropriate bite forces that stress the implant-bone interface.

For these reasons, consistent follow-up care is essential to maintaining a healthy dental implant!  Professional teeth cleanings ensure that you are not building up large accumulations of plaque and tartar around your dental implant.  Dental evaluations of the implant can catch “bad” bite forces and remove them before they cause damage to the bone connection.

More Questions about Dental Implants?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He has many years of experience in dental implants and can help you get the highest possible success rate from yours!

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How to Take Care of Dentures

Millions of Americans have no remaining natural teeth.  Even with advances in dental implants, the vast majority of people wear traditional dentures.  These dental appliances replace all of the missing teeth in one jaw (an upper denture for the upper jaw, and a lower denture for the lower jaw).
The biggest advantage of traditional dentures is their low cost.  The biggest myth about traditional dentures is that once you get them, you never need to see a dentist or take care of your “teeth” again.  We hope this blog convinces you of the falsehood of that belief.

While dentures are relatively inexpensive compared to other dental treatments to replace missing teeth, they still require a financial investment.  Dentures are custom-fitted for each individual’s unique gum and bone structure, and it is important to take care of this investment to ensure the best fit for the longest time.

Cleaning Your Dentures

Dentures consist of an acrylic base (the pink “gum” part) and plastic teeth.  Both of these materials can collect plaque buildup and stain over time.  For this reason, it is important to clean your dentures every day in order to ensure a long-lasting beautiful appearance.

Brushing Your Dentures

Brushing your denture accomplishes the same thing as brushing your teeth does: it removes plaque, food debris and stains.  Denture materials are much softer and more susceptible to scratches and erosion than teeth are.  For this reason, it is essential that you use a denture brush or extremely soft-bristled toothbrush.  Medium or hard-bristled toothbrushes can create tiny scratches on the surface of the acrylic or plastic.  These scratches make the surface rough instead of glossy smooth, and they will pick up stain faster than a shiny surface.

Do not ever use a whitening toothpaste on your denture!

You do not need to use any toothpaste on your denture.  In fact, many toothpastes are abrasive and will create scratches, too.  Simply use warm water on the toothbrush.  If you must use something on your toothbrush, only denture cleaners or mild liquid hand soap is appropriate.

It is important to brush both the inside and outside of the denture to remove all plaque and food debris.  Often, food debris can become trapped inside the denture, creating sore spots as you chew or speak.  Cleaning them regularly helps you avoid this.

Soaking Your Dentures

One of the easiest ways to clean your denture is by soaking it in a denture cleanser overnight.  These products specifically work to break up sticky plaque, food debris and stains present on the denture.  Make sure to choose one that has the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association, and follow the instructions on the package.

Be careful with any homemade denture cleanser recipes, especially ones that contain household bleach.  Bleach does kill bacteria, but it also has the potential to change the color of the denture base.

In the morning, remove the dentures from the cleanser and lightly brush it under cold water before placing it into your mouth.

Maintaining Proper Fit of Your Dentures

When the dentist and dental lab makes dentures, they use the current shape of your gums and underlying jawbone.  Unfortunately, those structures change over time, typically getting smaller.  As those changes occur, a small air space can develop between the existing denture base and the gums.  This air space leads to looseness.

If the looseness is minor, you may be able to manage it by using denture adhesive.  An adhesive helps improve the suction effect between the denture and your gums.  Again, make sure to only use adhesives with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

Denture Relines

If the fit drastically changes, and denture adhesive no longer keeps the denture in place during normal function, it is time to consider a reline.  A denture reline adds new acrylic material to the inside of the denture to close the air space that developed over time.  It recreates the intimate fit between the denture and the gums, allowing a suction effect to develop.

A denture reline does require you to leave your dentures with the dentist for about 24 hours, so it takes some advance planning.  The result is a denture that fits like new!

Yearly Denture Evaluations

Another important aspect of caring for dentures is seeing your dentist on a yearly basis.  The dentist evaluates not only the fit of the dentures, but also the gums and bones of the mouth.  During this evaluation, the dentist can spot potential problem areas like sore spots, fungal infections or an inflammatory condition called denture stomatitis.  Do not wait until something hurts to call your dentist.  Just schedule a regular visit.

We can do a “deep cleaning” of your dentures while you are in the office.  This evaluation will also include the extremely important annual oral cancer screening.

More Questions about Taking Great Care of Your Dentures?

Call our office today at 940-382-1750 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer any question you may have about your dentures and address any problems you may have.

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Is Vaping Bad for Your Mouth?


Absolutely, 100%, there is no doubt that vaping is bad for your mouth.

This new trend causes concern among dentists because we know that many people are choosing it as a “healthier” option.  Just because it is slightly better for you than smoking cigarettes does not mean it is okay.  Vaping can cause disastrous effects on the teeth and gums, as well as the rest of the body.

Effects of Vaping with Nicotine

Nicotine causes a constriction of blood vessels and has a particularly strong effect on tiny blood vessels in the extremities of the body.  Most people do not realize that the gum tissue surrounding the teeth is an “extremity”.  As nicotine narrows and constricts these blood vessels, the gums do not receive the nutrients, hydration, and cells they need to remain healthy.  Nicotine users have a much higher risk for gum disease, and they have impaired healing from any type of wound or surgery in the mouth.

One benefit of e-cigarettes and vaping pens over traditional cigarettes is that people can reduce the amount of nicotine.  It is important to note that even without any nicotine at all, vaping still has harmful effects on the mouth.

Effects of Vaping without Nicotine

It is a mistake to assume that nicotine is the only harmful substance involved in vaping.  It is NOT!  Several of the other ingredients in vaping are dangerous.


One of the attractions of vaping is the ability to add a wide variety of flavors to your pen.  Some of the flavorings impair the function of blood vessels in the mouth, and others cause inflammation.  One interesting fact is that the amount of tissue damage was much worse when users combine more than one flavor.

One study also showed that the flavorings in e-liquids led to a 27% decrease in enamel hardness.  Softer enamel leads to more cavities.

Propylene Glycol

This is one of the major ingredients in e-liquids, and it acts as a carrier for the nicotine and flavorings.  Propylene glycol has several harmful effects on the mouth.  First of all, when it breaks down inside the mouth, it produces several acids.  Acid weakens and softens tooth enamel, making it easier for cavities to start.  It also pulls water out of the saliva and tissues of the mouth, leading to a dry mouth.  Dry mouth allows bacteria to take over, producing cavities, gum disease and bad breath.

Vegetable Glycerin

Glycerin creates a thicker, stickier consistency for bacteria and plaque in the mouth.  It allows bad, cavity-causing bacteria to stick to the teeth, making it more difficult to remove.  Sticky, hard-to-remove plaque increases the risk of cavities.


The danger with the batteries in e-cigs is the potential for fires or explosions.  When these occur during use, burns to the hands, face, and mouth result.  Two deaths have been reported to date!  Current estimates cite over 2000 explosions and injuries between 2015 and 2017.

Why is This Such a Big Deal?

The reason health concerns over vaping are increasing is because we are seeing a drastic increase in usage among teenagers!  While tobacco usage has gone down among teens, e-cigs and vaping pens have exploded (pun intended) in popularity.  Most teenagers assume this is a harmless habit, compared to smoking.  They also typically do not inform their parents of their new habit.  Dental professionals may be the first to notice changes in oral health that could result from vaping.

Do You or a Loved One Use an E-Cig?

Don’t wait until you have problems with your teeth and gums.  Call today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer all of your questions about how vaping can affect your mouth.

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If You Have Diabetes, You Need to Read This!

Diabetes affects almost one in every ten Americans, and millions more are pre-diabetic.  This disease that affects the body’s ability to control the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood has devastating effects on the body.  What this blog focuses on is its devastating effects on the mouth!

Patients with diabetes have a higher risk for several different dental problems.  The level of control over a diabetic person’s blood sugar has a direct effect on the severity of problems in the mouth.  The more out of control someone’s blood sugar is, the more likely he is to experience a worsening of his or her dental risk.

Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)

The biggest and most obvious correlation between diabetes and dental disease is evident in chronic periodontal disease.  Diabetes leads of a decrease in blood supply to the extremities of the body, and a lack of blood flow leads to damage to the nerves in those areas.  This is why diabetics often end up with problems in their eyes and toes.  What many people do not realize is that the gums are an “extremity” too.

The lack of blood flow to the gums causes a “silent” progression of destruction of the tissues holding the teeth (the gums, ligaments and jawbones).  Studies show a mutual relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes.  When blood sugar is uncontrolled, gum disease becomes more difficult to treat.  The reverse is also true.  Untreated gum disease actually elevates your blood sugar.  The best treatment of gum disease in diabetic patients is one that addresses BOTH the gum disease and the diabetes concurrently.

Dry Mouth

Another common symptom of diabetes is a reduced salivary function leading to dry mouth.  Saliva is the body’s natural defense against dangerous bacteria in the mouth.  It helps to wash away plaque buildup and contains enzymes that begin the digestion process.  Saliva also lubricates the tissues lining the inside of the mouth, protecting them from sores, ulcers, and injuries.  Without saliva, the oral environment is NOT healthy.

The dry mouth caused by diabetes compounds the risk for periodontal disease because it allows for more plaque buildup with a different, stickier consistency.  Higher accumulation of plaque on the teeth increases your risk for both cavities and gum disease.

Poor Healing

Patients with diabetes are notoriously bad “healers”.  When they require dental surgery to treat a problem, they can expect a longer, more complicated healing process.  The reason for this is the same as the reason for the increased risk for gum disease: lack of good blood flow.  If you anticipate any dental surgery (or any surgery at all, for that matter), you should work with your medical doctor to attain the best control over your blood sugar BEFORE proceeding with any surgical procedures.

High Risk of Implant Failure

Dental implants are a wonderful treatment option to replace missing teeth.  Diabetic patients must proceed with caution, though.  Uncontrolled blood sugar greatly increases the risk of implant failure.  The reason?  You guessed it: lack of good blood flow.  In order for a dental implant to integrate into the jawbone, it must have good blood flow bring the proper cells and nutrients to the surgical site.

This does not mean people with diabetes should never get dental implants.  It simply means that you must work closely with your medical doctor and your dentist to confirm that you are in your healthiest state before the implant surgery.  This will ensure your best chance at implant success.

Change in Taste Sensation

Changes in the nerve endings caused by a lack of blood flow in diabetic patients can also lead to changes in your sense of taste.  This can often be the first sign of a problem with blood sugar.  Because it happens slowly over time, many people are unaware of its slow progression.  If you notice that food does not taste as good or the same as it used to, talk to your medical doctor about a physical with bloodwork to make sure you are not experiencing the effects of diabetes.

More Questions about Diabetes and its Effect on Your Mouth?

Call 940-382-1750 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer any question you have and assess your personal risk areas.  With proper preventive care and good control of your blood sugar, you can stop diabetes from wrecking your mouth.

Why Should I Get My Teeth Cleaned Every Six Months?

This is actually one of those questions we do NOT hear very often in the dental office. Why?  Because we typically see the people who do come to get their teeth cleaned every six months.

We do, however, see many patients who have a family member who chooses not to stick to a consistent schedule of professional teeth cleanings.  This blog will give you valuable information you can share with those loved ones if they ask this question to you!

Important Aspects of the Six-Month Visit

There are six important things that happen during a six-month dental visit.  Each one by itself is a good enough reason to see your dentist every six months.  When you put them all together, skipping your regular dental visits just sounds crazy.

  1. Full Mouth Evaluation (including Oral Cancer Screening)

At each six-month visit, Dr. Chowning performs a periodic oral evaluation.  In our office, we take pride in our comprehensive evaluations.

We also continue to assess and address new dental and oral concerns as we learn new information.  Oral health is an area of healthcare that is continually expanding and advancing.  Our commitment to continuing education keeps us on the ball in this regard.

During a periodic evaluation, we meticulously search the mouth for warning signs of any dental disease, like cavities, gum disease, tooth cracks, and oral cancer.  Catching any of these problems early always results in less expensive and less extensive treatment!

Our oral evaluations always include an oral cancer screening.  This is one of the most important aspects of your regularly scheduled dental visits.  Oral cancer is changing and affecting more people of a new, younger demographic.  Every single person should have an oral cancer screening by a dentist or oral surgeon no less than once every year!

  1. Professional Teeth Cleaning

“Getting your teeth cleaned” is how most people refer to this six-month visit.  We hope this blog convinces you that it is so much more than that.  But the professional teeth cleaning itself, on a six-month schedule, IS essential to great oral health.

No one is a perfect brusher and flosser.  No matter how diligent or good you are, you will always some small areas of bacteria.  The dental hygienist is the expert at removing all bacterial buildup from your mouth and giving you a clean slate every six months.

The professional teeth cleaning fights the bacteria that cause both cavities and gum disease.  Removing these bacteria regularly helps lower your risk for dental disease.

A lower risk for dental problems saves you money!

  1. Dental X-rays and other Images

Usually, we take dental x-rays about once each year, and we take photos whenever needed!

Not only do these images give us important information about what goes on in your teeth; they also allow us to catch problems before they get big enough for you to notice them.  Waiting until something hurts or bothers you is a sure way to spend lots of money at the dental office.

Dental x-rays are mandatory for evaluating the teeth for cavities, the supporting bone around each tooth, and both jaws for masses, tumors or cysts.  Dentists who do not take consistent x-rays on patients are guilty of malpractice!

Dental x-rays are safer than the dental problems you could miss without them!

  1. Periodontal Measurements

Gum measurements tell us how healthy or unhealthy your gums are.  Periodontal disease is often called a “silent” disease because it does not cause many noticeable symptoms.  People can be walking around with terrible periodontal disease and deep gum pockets without knowing it.

By measuring your gums consistently, we catch and treat gum pockets before they reach dangerous levels.  Early intervention is always less invasive and less expensive!

  1. Risk Assessment

We take time during each dental evaluation to inform you of your specific risk areas.  Not everyone has a high risk for cavities.  Some people can slack off on flossing and still have a relatively low risk for gum disease.  Others have perfectly clean, healthy teeth that are breaking and crumbling as a result of heavy teeth grinding.

What is important is that you know YOUR areas of risk so that you can take steps to lower them.  We give you detailed information about the risk factors unique to your mouth and recommendations for home care and dental treatment aimed at reducing those risks.

  1. Patient Education

Dr. Chowning and our dental hygienists love nothing more than to teach each patient how they can take the best care of their teeth and have a completely healthy mouth.  Instead of a visit where we simply tell you everything that is wrong with your mouth, we aim for visits that empower you to take control of your mouth.

We often recommend over-the-counter products that will meet a specific need you have.  Our hygienists will teach you how to use additional oral hygiene tools to clean hard-to-reach places in your mouth.

We believe that when you understand certain disease processes in the mouth and your role in preventing them, you have your best chance at fighting them.  We agree with G.I. Joe: “Knowing is half the battle!”

More Questions about the Importance of Consistent Dental Visits?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  Better yet, schedule a professional teeth cleaning so you can get the other five important aspects, too!

White Spots on Your Teeth? Here’s What You Need to Know!

Every wants white teeth, but we generally want them uniformly white, not just peppered here and there with white splotches or lines.  There are a few common causes of these isolated white spots, and this blog will explore each one, including ways you can help lessen their appearance.

Causes of White Spots

In general, an isolated white spot on tooth enamel is an indication that there is a problem with that area of enamel.  The matrix of minerals in a white spot is different from that in the rest of the tooth.  In most cases, white spots are weaker and more susceptible to cavities because of this change in the mineral content.  Here are the three most common causes of white spots.

  1. Demineralization of the Enamel due to Plaque Buildup

Demineralization is a big word for softened or weakened, when it comes to tooth enamel.  This occurs as the result of damage from the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth.  These bacteria collect in large clumps within dental plaque, so when plaque remains on the teeth for any extended period of time, the bacteria can soften enamel through their acid production.

This occurs most commonly in two areas: a) around orthodontic brackets, and b) near the gumline.

When people wear braces, the brackets provide an easy collection area for plaque and a very difficult environment to clean.  When patients in braces do not adequately clean around each bracket, and plaque stays on the teeth, the result is demineralization.  Unfortunately, it is almost imperceptible until the braces come off.  Then you can see a small outline of where the brackets were, created by lines of demineralization or “white spots”.

Another difficult area to clean is the area where the gums meet each tooth.  If the toothbrush bristles do not touch the gumline during brushing, or if a person suffers from dry mouth leading to excessive plaque buildup in this area, small crescent-shaped white spots can result.

These white spots are 100% preventable!

  1. Enamel Defects

Some white spots result from an incomplete or defective formation of enamel when the body makes a tooth, before it ever comes into the mouth.  These enamel defects may be the result of health problems, like a high fever, when the permanent tooth is forming.  They can also occur when a developing permanent tooth sustains damage from an injury to a baby tooth.  Regardless of the cause, this type of white spot is almost impossible to prevent.

Depending on the cause, the shape and size of the white spot will vary.

  1. Too Much Fluoride

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can help strengthen tooth enamel and resist cavities.  However, there can be too much of a good thing!  There are some areas of the country in which the high levels of natural fluoride in the ground leads to too much fluoride in the drinking water.  If someone receives too much fluoride while a tooth is forming, the tooth may develop white splotches or stripes.

This condition is called fluorosis and can also lead to brown or gray spots.  Unlike the white spots of demineralization or enamel defects, fluorosis white spots are usually not weaker areas on the tooth.  In some cases, these teeth are actually more resistant to cavities.

How to Make White Spots Less Obvious

There are several techniques you can use to improve the appearance of white spots.  It is important to understand the cause of your white spots before you attempt to improve them.

  1. Demineralization of the Enamel due to Plaque Buildup

The way to fight white spots caused by demineralization is to work toward re-mineralization.  You can remineralize teeth by applying certain minerals on a consistent basis.  Your dentist will have information on specific techniques available for fighting your demineralization.  These will include: professional fluoride treatments, prescription pastes or gels containing minerals like calcium and phosphate, or unique toothpastes containing nano-hydroxyapatite.

While attempting to remineralize areas on the teeth, having great oral hygiene and keeping up with consistent professional teeth cleanings is of the utmost importance.  In order to remineralize, you not only have to work on the areas that have already demineralized; you have to keep the plaque away so new areas do not form!

  1. Enamel Defects

Many enamel defects will require dental restorations if the surface is not intact.  If a pit, crack or depression is present, your dentist will restore it with a perfectly matching, tooth-colored filling.

If the surface of the defect is intact and only discolored, then there are some different treatment options available for improving the appearance.  These are generally non-invasive and give a good long-term result.  You can always opt to cover the defect with a veneer, which is slightly more invasive but provides perfect long-term coverage.

  1. Too Much Fluoride

You can alter the appearance of splotchy fluorosis with teeth whitening.  It is very important to note that the appearance of the white spots may get worse (more obvious) before it gets better.  At first, during the teeth whitening process, everything will whiten evenly, meaning white spots will get whiter, too.  Then, the rest of the tooth will start to catch up.

After consistent teeth whitening, the overall appearance of your teeth will even out, looking consistently bright and white.

Fluorosis is difficult to whiten, so you definitely want to utilize the supervision of your dentist and his professional whitening products to get the best result!

More Questions about White Spots?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can investigate your specific white spots to determine the best course of action in improving their appearance.

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Tonsil Stones: What Are They, and Why Do I Get Them?

To be frank, tonsil stones are gross.  If you have never experienced them, count your lucky stars.  They feel weird, they smell bad, and they put you at risk for infections!

What are Tonsils?

Tonsils are lumps of lymphatic tissue (part of your immune system) at the back of the mouth.  They come in all sizes, and some patients have very large tonsils that can even affect breathing.  Tonsils are corrugated, meaning they are rough-textured with deep pockets and grooves on the surface.  They contain lots of white blood cells and work to keep germs from entering the body through the nose and mouth.

The palatine tonsils are the ones you can see through the mouth.  There are others, not easily visible, above the roof of the mouth and below the back of the tongue.  Inflamed or infected tonsils are often the cause of sore throats and fevers.

What are Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones are small pieces of hardened (calcified) material that collect in the deep pits and grooves of the tonsils.  They are very similar to the hard tartar buildup that accumulates on your teeth.  They contain bacteria, exfoliated tissue cells from the lining of your mouth, and food debris.  This collection of debris can be an irritant to the soft tissue of the tonsil, leading to swelling and redness.

What Causes Tonsil Stones?

The exact cause of tonsil stones is the collection of debris that hardens.  However, there are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood that you will suffer from tonsil stones.

  1. Groovy tonsillar anatomy – Some tonsils just have deeper pits and grooves than others. This makes them more likely to collect debris and more difficult for you to clean that debris.
  2. Inadequate oral hygiene – If there is more debris in your mouth, there is also more debris that could collect in the tonsillar grooves. More plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth increases your risk for tonsil stones.
  3. High mineral levels – Just as some patients are more prone to stones in their kidneys, gallbladders and salivary glands, they can be more prone to tonsil stones. In some cases, higher mineral levels in saliva cause quicker hardening of soft buildup into stones.

How Do I Get Rid of Them?

Whatever you do, you should NOT attempt to remove them with your fingernails or metal instruments!  You are VERY likely to cause inflammation and infection this way.

If you feel a tonsil stone in the back of your throat, the best tactic is gargling with warm salt water several times throughout the day.  This will generally dislodge the stone.  If you are prone to tonsil stones, you should add gargling salt water to your daily routine to keep the deep tonsillar grooves flushed out regularly.

If you have a tonsil stone that is not dislodging on its own and has surrounding inflammation or infection, see your medical doctor immediately!

See your dentist regularly to consistently reduce the plaque, bacteria and food debris in your mouth.  This will reduce the likelihood of developing tonsil stones.

More Questions about Tonsil Stones?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer any questions you have about tonsil stones and help you take steps to keep them away!

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