No Insurance? No Problem!

All across the medical field, healthcare providers are working to find affordable options for patients that do not have medical or dental insurance.

Whether it be due to a recent retirement, or simply opting to not purchase insurance through an employer, we have something for you!  Dr. Hicks has created an office VIP plan (Very Important Patient) as an affordable alternative to provide quality dental care!

Being a patient under this plan, a set monthly payment will include your dental cleanings, exams, and x-rays, as well as a discount on all services.

For more information, call our office and speak with Kacie!0001d7

Jaw Pain

Snap, Crackle, Pop! Great for Cereal… Bad for Jaws!

Are you waking up with pain in your teeth, face or jaw?  Are you waking up your significant other from grinding and clenching your teeth?  If you answered yes to either of these, Dr. Katie Hicks and her team can help!

Nearly 80% of patients who grind their teeth do this subconsciously during sleep.   It’s usually associated with contributing factors, such as stress or anxiety. Bruxism also affects people when they’re awake, characterized by excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching.

Grinding and clenching your teeth can wear your teeth down, causing sensitivity in the teeth as well as an unsightly appearance. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems may also result, including clicking and popping in the TMJ, pain the face and neck muscles, as well as an earache due to the close proximity of the TMJ to the ear canal.

Many parents report their children grinding their teeth at night as well…Dr. Hicks can attest to this first hand!  This usually occurs because the upper and lower teeth aren’t aligned properly, but can also occur as a response to pain, such as from an earache or teething.  Fortunately, most children will outgrow grinding their teeth….until the stress of a being an adult hits them later in life!

For our adult patients, the first line of recommended treatment is an occlusal guard, or a night guard.  Dr. Katie Hicks recommends the ClearSPLINT or the “comfort splint,” a premium heat cured night guard using BPA free composite material.  The splint is self adjusting when added to warm water and extremely comfortable for extended use.  The material will never yellow and is the most allergy friendly material currently available on the market.

 

breath

Do you have bad breath? Would anyone tell you?

Halitosis! Hali-what?  Avoiding onions and garlic at lunch is a good start, but there might be more to fresh breath than you know. Most of us won’t notice our own foul breath, but if you’re curious lick your hand, let it dry, and give it a sniff. Don’t like what you smell? Here are some tips to help.

#1 Clean Your Mouth

There are over 600 types of bacteria in our mouths. Ew, I know. And of these 600 types, the vast majority of them secrete sulfur compounds AKA eau de rotten egg. The best way to keep these bacteria from turning you into “the smelly kid” is managing the type and quantity of bacteria growing. Brushing, flossing, and tongue scraping keep the oral cavity squeaky clean and disrupt bacterial growth.  Gum disease is the number one cause of bad breath, but can be controlled with excellent oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings.

#2 Diet

A healthy diet full of fiber and fresh foods keep the digestive track moving and breath fresh. Citrus is great because it is high in Vitamin C, which inhibits bacteria growth and is a natural cleanser. Foods high in fiber encourage salivary flow, which breaks down and remove debris. An apple a day isn’t just for your total body health, apples are also known as nature’s toothbrush!

#3 Digestive Health

A healthy digestive track is key for a fresh mouth. Constipation, stomach ulcers and acid reflux can all cause unpleasant odors to escape through the mouth. Check with your doctor if you are noticing a bad taste, regular heartburn or digestive irregularity.

#4 Total Body Health

Oral infections, including tonsil stones, are smelly in their own right. If you have a sore throat, try rinsing with Listerine or warm salt water. Certain systemic diseases, including cancer, can also cause bad breath. Get annual check ups with your doctor, and if you notice unusual symptoms make an appointment.  

#5 Dry Mouth

When salivary flow isn’t adequate to remove debris, bacteria and food particles are left behind to cause halitosis. There are hundreds of medications that cause dry mouth, most notably are drugs that treat depression, some antihistamines, decongestants, and pain medications. If you mouth is dry make sure to get enough water, try Biotene and other dry mouth products and talk to your favorite dental hygienist.

C Read RDH

 

sinus

Can allergies cause tooth pain?

The palo verdes are in full bloom and so is allergy season. If you are experiencing upper tooth pain, it may be due to sinus pressure. Our maxillary sinuses are located to the right and left of our nose, and just above the roots of the upper teeth. When these cavities become inflamed from environmental contaminants such as pollen and dust, the membrane lining the sinuses swells and creates pressure. Sometimes the pressure will extend down to the root tips of upper teeth, and cause infection-like symptoms. Try taking a decongestant and an anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen), if symptoms persist make an appointment with Dr. Hicks for an exam.

 

C Read RDH

invisalign

Invisalign Insider

Invisalign Insider by Christy RDH

I’m embarking on a journey to straighten my teeth using Invisalign, and thought I would share the process with those of you who may be considering it. I know what you’re thinking: your teeth are already straight! And they are pretty straight, but after orthodontics in high school I failed to wear my retainer and my teeth started slowly moving. Since I am marginally more responsible now at 31 than I was at 18, I figured I would get them into perfect alignment once and for all.

 

March 17th, 2016

The first step in the process is a consultation. At this appointment Dr. Hicks evaluated my bite and we discussed my goals. After determining I was a good candidate, she began assembling the pieces that would help Invisalign understand the current position of my teeth. She took a several photos, upper and lower impressions, a bite registration and some basic x-rays. It was easy appointment that lasted about 50 minutes. Afterward, Dr. Hicks sent the whole package off to Invisalign to develop a treatment plan.

 

 March 31st, 2016

Invisalign used the information we sent to create a digital 3-D image of my teeth and proposed a treatment plan. We evaluated the virtual representation of how my teeth would move with each stage of treatment. The plan addressed my concerns and was going to take about five months to complete, so I gave Dr. Hicks two thumbs up and we ordered the trays.

 

April 12th, 2016

Day one of Invisalign! We received all 10 pairs of custom made trays. The trays are clear and made of  somewhat stiff, smooth plastic. Dr. Hicks tried the first set in to make sure they would fit. Next, she added some small tooth colored “hooks” to the outside of my teeth. Imagine little tiny bumps that help the trays snap in, they felt rough the first day but I quickly got used to them. I have 6 “hooks” on the top and 7 on the bottom, but the placement and number varies per case. The process was painless and took about 45 minutes. She showed me how to take the trays in and out, advised me to wear them all day except when eating, and to brush and floss regularly.

 

April 15th, 2016

I’m finally getting used to having the trays in. The first day my teeth were pretty sore. I didn’t take ibuprofen as instructed because I thought I was tough. On day two I took it. By the third day my teeth are a bit tender, but much more tolerable. I have a ton of saliva, along with dry lips so I’m keeping chapstick close by. I also have a slight lisp when I say a handful of sounds, but I don’t think it’s very noticeable. I’m only taking my trays out to eat, and brush the trays and my teeth after every meal. It is a little bit tedious, but so far it’s a good diet plan because it’s not as easy to snack. Also, food tasted weird at first. I think was due to the change in texture when I was still getting used to the hooks, and perhaps that my saliva was thicker than normal.  Otherwise, relatively uneventful and I have seen some movement in the right direction.

 

April 26th, 2016

Two weeks in. My first trays were snapping in really easily, which meant it was nearly time to go to tray set #2. The standard is to change trays every 2 weeks, however I started a few days early due to an unforeseen event. While on vacation the housekeepers threw away my first set accidentally. Lesson learned: do not leave clear trays in an empty paper cup in a hotel room while eating breakfast, the maid will not notice them and they will be gone. POOF! So, I started #2 trays ASAP to avoid anything moving back into the original position. Today is my second day with  #2 trays and things are feeling good. My teeth haven’t hurt since the beginning and I’m fairly used to the routine of brushing, flossing and keeping track of the trays during meals. I have noticed some staining of the material that makes the hooks, so I put some whitening gel in the trays to brighten things up a bit and it worked perfectly.

 

May 3rd, 2016

My second set of trays are fitting great and I’m excited about the progress. The staining of the trays is pretty minimal and only really noticeable when I take them out. Still have really dry lips, so chapstick is my BFF. I have become a SUPER DUPER ROCKSTAR brusher and flosser, and my gums have never been happier. I’ve also lost a few pounds, not sure if that is the result of less snacking or my increase in exercise, but a great side effect nonetheless. So far I have only had 2 people ask me if I was wearing Invisalign, otherwise I don’t think anyone really notices. I feel a little self conscious when speaking occasionally because my lisp is still hanging on, but I think I am my own worst critic (plus I have a tongue thrust so I am the more likely to have this issue). Other bonuses: I have a tendency to clench my teeth at night and sometimes have jaw pain as a result. However, wearing the trays seems to be protecting my joint and I have less tightness than before. Looking forward to my new trays in a few days! Keep ya posted!

 

August 9th, 2016

Today I started my last set of trays. Everything is coming along just as I hoped! Almost done!!!

heart

Gum Health for Heart Health

Often healthcare providers refer to our mouths as being the window to our body. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat”, it’s easy to imagine what we see inside our mouths can indicate systemic health.

There is mounting evidence suggesting that the health of our gums is related to cardiac health, and vice versa. The primary factor in heart disease is inflammation of the vessels. The definition of gum disease is inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues. Bacteria and their toxins cause inflammation, and can be found in both the heart and mouth.

Oral bacteria cause gum tissue to increase blood flow to help manage the infection, this is why your gums bleed if they are neglected. The increased blood flow allows the bacteria to seep into the bloodstream, letting the inflammatory bacteria move throughout the vascular system and into the heart. The same bacteria found in the mouth is also found in the “plaques” of hardened arteries.

Bottom line: keep the bacteria count down in your mouth by maintaining excellent hygiene (brushing, flossing and antibacterial mouthwash) and your heart will thank you!

 

C Read RDH

Toothbrush

What kind of toothbrush should I buy?

The most important factor in choosing a toothbrush is getting one you will use twice a day! Bristles should always be soft and vary in length. Medium and hard bristles can damage gum tissues and root surfaces. When in doubt, look for the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval on dental products, this ensures the product meets sanitation and quality control standards.

Toothbrushes should be changed every 2-3 months. With use, bristles wear out and lose their effectiveness and collect bacteria. Toothbrushes should also be discarded after being sick to prevent re-infection.

Electric or manual? We are believers in electric toothbrushes for excellent oral hygiene. Specifically, we love the Sonicare line. The movement of the bristles help disrupt bacteria on the teeth and stimulate blood circulation in gums, making them more resilient. Additionally, the 30 timing feature helps to make sure all areas of the mouth are cleaned equally and diligently. Finally, the pressure sensors help ensure that the correct pressure is used when brushing. It’s common to brush too hard and too long in some areas, which can cause gum recession and bone loss.

Sum it up: choose a toothbrush with a distinct and fun color, ADA certified, soft bristles and a handle large enough to hold comfortably – and change every 3 months! PSA: avoid the Crest Spin Brush, it is not effective and can chip teeth.

 

C Read RDH

drysand

Is our Tucson sun drying you out?

 

Having adequate and steady salivary flow is important for digestion and protecting teeth. Dry mouth symptoms include waking with “cotton mouth”, rough feeling tongue, thick or stringy saliva and dry lips. The primary causes of dry mouth are medications, dehydration, tobacco use and systemic disease. Are you prone to having a dry mouth? Having a dry mouth can be uncomfortable and put your oral health at risk. The best way to treat dry mouth is by staying hydrated, chewing sugar free gum, avoiding alcohol (including alcohol containing mouthwash) and limiting caffeine intake. Protect teeth by brushing and flossing regularly, using a fluoride mouth rinse and products made specifically for dry mouth (Biotene). All too often we see patients that develop dry mouth and start sucking on hard candies and eventually return to our office with numerous cavities. Instead, suck on ice chips and sugar free products. Questions? Call us!

 

C Read RDH

History-of-Ice-Cream-1

Does ice cream have you screaming?

Sensitivity to cold is the most common type of tooth pain, but usually does not indicate a dental emergency. Often hypersensitivity can often be treated with just a few adjustments to your routine and diet.

The crown of the tooth is the area above the gumline, and is layered similar to a hard boiled egg. The outside of the tooth has a hard enamel coating or shell, next is the softer dentin layer, and within the dentin lies the nerve of the tooth. When the enamel shell is damaged, temperature changes cause the tooth’s nerve react.

 

Enamel can be damaged through wear and tear, cracks, and cavities exposing the dentin.  Sensitivity can also occur if the gum line recedes and the dentin on the roots of teeth are no longer insulated by gum tissue. When dentin is exposed it can cause hypersensitivity to cold, acidic and sweet foods.

 

If the sensitivity only occurs when eating or brushing, try using a sensitivity toothpaste daily. It may take a couple weeks for sensitivity to subside, but with time it should decrease in severity. Avoid whitening toothpastes, brushing too hard and very acid foods. If the sensitivity persists, visit Dr. Katie Hicks to see how we can help!

C Read RDH

candy-hearts

I love sweets, how do I avoid cavities?

The holidays are upon us and sweets abound, so how can you keep your teeth healthy? We would never recommend avoiding sweets entirely, that’s just cruel! Instead we’ll give you some tips to stay cavity free during the holidays. First, keep up with your great home care habits: brushing twice daily and flossing once daily. If you are cavity prone, using a fluoride rinse will help strengthen teeth and prevent against future decay. Try Listerine Defense or Phos Flur mouth rinse, and make sure to avoid food and drinks for at least 30 minutes after swishing. Finally, consider the frequency in which you consume sweets. Better to eat a whole piece of pie in one sitting, than to take bites over a long period of time. Follow these tips and maintain regular check-ups, and you will be healthy in 2016!

C Read RDH