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  Main : (512) 396-4288

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How To Choose The Right Dentist For You
From Your Family Dentistry Offices In San Marcos TX

In today’s world, finding information on anyone or anything is fairly easy using the internet. Information is readily available with a simple click of a mouse. Narrowing down search criteria is just as easy when looking for a local dentist that will cater to your specific needs. Whether you have sensitive teeth, dental fears, or just need laughing gas, you can find a dentist that will meet those needs.

Word of Mouth

Having a friend or family member tell you that they have been to a great dentist is one of the best ways to find out about great dental care. However, not all people get along the same and what works for one may not work for the other. Keeping that in mind, give your prospective dentist a call and see what they have to offer for your dental health.

Using The Internet

Typing in a search bar what you need is most likely going to have the best results for your area. You can type in specifics like “dentists who do teeth whitening,” or “dentists that specialize in implants.” These titles will bring up that specialty. Some search engines like you to be less specific and others like the exact title of what you need. There are several generic services that you can search for as well, such as “teeth cleaning” or “dental crowns” and then go through those results.

Finding a Dentist Through an Online Service

In Central Texas, you can search for a dental services locator. Once you decide which one to use you can then get to the specifics of what your dental needs are. A list will come up that shows all the providers in your area for you to choose from. These sites require more information from you regarding where you are located, what dental issues you have, and what payment method you plan to use.

Searching for a Dentist in Your Insurance Network

Today, most insurance companies are selective and have a dental network program that dentists sign up for and are then listed in the directory of that network. You can also locate these providers online, however it is easier to search through the insurance company website. They have a list of providers readily available for you to scan through and see who is accepting your insurance at the time. These lists may not provide the specifics you are looking for. You can get the name of the office and then look them up online or call to schedule a consultation.

Contact Our San Marcos Family Dental Practice

In the end, selecting a dental office that is comfortable for you and where the staff meet your needs is very important to your overall dental health. It’s not just the dental care they offer; it’s how the office works as a whole to meet your dental needs.

Still trying to find the perfect dentist to improve your oral health?

Contact Carothers Family Dental in San Marcos, TX to get more information about dentistry services or to make an appointment.

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Root Canal Treatment: Everything You Need To Know
From your San Marcos Dentistry Clinic

Root canal treatment has developed a widely negative reputation causing it to be one of the more intimidating procedures commonly performed. While hearing the phrase “root canal” is enough to make many people shudder, in reality, patients often compare it to be as mild as getting a filling. Knowing the facts about a root canal procedure and knowing the signs of when you might need one should help ease any tension you might feel toward it!

What is a Root Canal?

While many people refer to a “root canal” as a procedure, this is not the case. The root canal is a part of your tooth that is made up of nerves and vessels that run from the very bottom of the tooth’s root (deep inside your gums) to the pulp of your tooth. The pulp is the area underneath the protective enamel covering of your tooth that houses all of the soft tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. Root canal treatment is the process that is needed when an infection starts to develop within that pulp chamber, in the canal, or when an abscess forms underneath the root of the tooth. The root canal procedure is thought to be an uncomfortable one, but in reality, root canal treatment will actually relieve the patient of ongoing discomfort.

How do I Know if I Need a Root Canal Procedure?

There are a lot of different things that can cause infection on the pulp chamber or root canal of the tooth, and it can be difficult to know the original source of the problem. More importantly, knowing the signs of the problem can help you avoid increased discomfort and ongoing complications by getting yourself to the dentist when you start to notice them. A few symptoms and signs that you have an infection and might need root canal treatment include:

  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Swelling in your gums
  • Gum tenderness
  • Ongoing toothache when chewing
  • Discoloration of your tooth or gums
  • Pimples on your gums
  • A chipped tooth

What Happens During the Procedure?

During root canal treatment, the patient will typically be under local anesthesia. Then, in order to remove the infected tissue, an access hole is opened into the pulp chamber down to the root of the tooth (through the canal of the root). Next, the dentist will use a file to scrub the access hole free of any remaining tissues, removing any infection or diseased pulp, flushing away any debris with sterile liquids. After everything is removed, the dentist will then fill the canal completely and then seal the access hole like a typical filling. Then a crown may be needed to protect the remaining tooth structure and return function of the tooth.

What is the Alternative to a Root Canal?

If an infection has gone too far, it is possible that your only option will be to get the tooth extracted (remove the tooth entirely). While this might sound easier, the biggest benefit of getting root canal treatment instead of a tooth extracted is that you get to keep your real tooth. If you get a tooth removed, then you will need to have a fake tooth implanted in order to keep your teeth in place and retain your chewing abilities, but this option should only be a last resort. Getting root canal treatment is the best option if possible and will get rid of discomfort while keeping your natural teeth in place!

Experiencing discomfort when eating or noticing frequent toothaches? Contact Carothers Family Dentist Office in San Marcos TX to get more information.

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Safest Whitening Treatments
Insight from Your Family Dentist in San Marcos TX

Everyone wants to have that perfectly white Hollywood smile, so naturally, the topic of teeth whitening comes up frequently. With so much information circulating and new trends making way, it can be tough to know what direction to go to finally get those pearly whites you have always wanted. Knowing your options is the best place to start!

Consult Your Dentist

Just like you would want to consult your doctor before trying a new medication or diet, you definitely want to get advice from your family dentist if you decide to whiten your teeth. They will have the best insight on what is ideal for your current situation because they know your oral health best. They will know whether you have intrinsic or extrinsic discoloration (whether your discoloration stems from external or internal issues), what your gums need to stay healthy, and they can give you the best advice for maintaining whiter teeth after your treatment.

Professional Whitening

It is likely that your best and safest option for teeth whitening is going to be done by your dentist. One of the benefits of taking this route (aside from a catered approach by a professional) is the speed at which you get results. If you have a specific event coming up like a reunion or wedding and you want your teeth whitened quickly, your dentist might be able to get results in a single appointment depending on your type and level of discoloration.

It is also possible that your dentist will recommend at home teeth whitening where they make custom fit trays and give you a concentrated hydrogen peroxide mix. These are typically worn for a half to full hour a day for a designated amount of time to achieve your desired result. Choosing between these two methods (in office or at home) is a great conversation to have with your dentist in order to decide on your needs for optimal oral health.

Whitening Strips

After consulting and getting approval from your dentist, you might decide to take an over the counter approach for your teeth whitening. This can be a good option if you have extrinsic discoloration from food or beverage consumption (who hasn’t suffered from coffee stained teeth?). When taking an over the counter approach, there are a few things to be cautious of. For starters, be very aware of the application instructions and follow them. Secondly, it is always important to look for a product with the ADA Seal of Acceptance because this will give you the added confidence that the product is both safe and effective. If you have any questions about a specific product on the shelf, definitely ask your dentist to get their professional and informed opinion.

Whitening Toothpaste and/or Mouthwash

If you are willing to give your teeth whitening a little more time than the strips option, a good choice might be to switch to an ADA approved whitening toothpaste and mouthwash. This is a slightly less harsh approach, and it is also more affordable than the strips. But, again, if you already suffer from any kind of tooth sensitivity, gum problems, or think you might have a cavity developing, consult your dentist before making the switch.

Contact Our San Marcos Dentistry

Wishing for a whiter smile? As we mentioned above, scheduling an appointment to consult with a dentist in person is the safest way to start any whitening treatment. Contact Carothers Family Dental at (512) 396-4288 to discuss which whitening options are safest for you.

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Fluoride toothpaste recommended by San Marcos dentists

Why Dentists Recommend Fluoride Toothpaste
Advice from Carothers San Marcos Dental Practice

The last several years have seen a lot of shifts in the quality of consumer products. With the rise of available information, people are paying more and more attention to the quality of the foods they consume and products they buy. While you are starting to see a rise in easily accessible organic foods, even the products in the toiletry section of the store are starting to have words like “natural” and “organic” more regularly on the shelf as well. This shift has caused some confusion about the role of fluoride in oral health. We’re here to look at why fluoride is still highly recommended today.

Fluoride is Natural

If going natural is an important part of your lifestyle, then you are actually still in luck! Fluoride is a natural ionic compound that is found mostly in phosphate rocks. When there isn’t the right amount of fluoride in our water sources to protect our teeth, fluoride is extracted from phosphate rocks, liquefied, and then added to the water for everyone to benefit from. This is why every toothpaste with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance has fluoride in it. So, while the word “additive” might make you feel on edge, remember that fluoride is a natural compound that has increasingly improved oral hygiene over the last several decades, and you only have to benefit from it!

The Introduction of Fluoride

Before fluoride was added to community water supplies in the mid 1940’s, kids and adults suffered from three times the amount of cavities, resulting in greater dental problems down the road. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention considers the addition of fluoride into community water as one of the top 10 greatest health achievements of the 20th century.

Prevents Cavities and Decay

Because the food you eat causes bacteria to develop in your mouth that breaks down the protective layer on your teeth (the enamel), cavities begin to form on and in between your teeth. When you brush with fluoride toothpaste, you are reinforcing the natural protective layer on your teeth. As fluoride bonds together with your enamel, your teeth become much more resilient to the bacteria and acids that form in your mouth that destroy them. In fact, brushing your teeth with a toothpaste that does not have any fluoride does almost nothing in the prevention of cavities and tooth decay. It is possible that fluoride free toothpaste might assist in fresher breath, but it does very little in the prevention of tooth decay.

Helps Prevent Other Illnesses

Poor oral hygiene is now being linked to a wide range of other illnesses, so brushing with fluoride toothpaste might be saving you from more than just a couple of cavities! Infections of the bones supporting the teeth, along with dental abscesses, can be caused by bacteria in your teeth and gums. Some studies are also linking poor oral health to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Bleeding gums from untreated gingivitis can cause an infection in your bloodstream as well. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste is a simple and cost efficient solution that can help you stay healthy in more ways than one!

Speak with a San Marcos TX Dentist

Not sure if you’re using the right type of toothpaste for your teeth? Contact Carothers Family Dental to make an appointment and start improving your oral health.

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What Happens During A Teeth Cleaning:
What to Expect at Your San Marcos Family Dentistry

Regular visits to your dentist are one of the best ways to prevent major dental health issues. However, only making time for an annual visit to your dentist may not be enough. While brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing is a huge part of healthy oral care, you cannot replace the quality of a professional teeth cleaning and examination. If you have ever wondered what the difference is between brushing your teeth at home and having your teeth cleaned by a trained dental hygienist, consider the following.


Unless you have a trained eye with experience in catching early signs of gum disease, you really can’t replace the first step of a teeth cleaning on your own. Using various tools and mirrors, your dentist will be able to examine the state of your teeth and gums and catch any problem areas that you might have. Periodic exams may include x-rays of your mouth and jaw region, which can also help view potential issues that you wouldn’t be able to see yourself. Catching the early signs of gingivitis or other problems could end up saving you a lot of pain and money for treatment down the road.

Removing Calculus

When you brush your teeth at home, the main goal is to clean off any plaque that has gathered on your teeth. The same goes for flossing. However, plaque that gets left behind begins to harden and creates dental calculus. Calculus can’t be removed by brushing at home, so a hygienist will use special tools to remove any evidence of it off of your teeth, even in those hard to reach places like below the gumline! This not only helps your teeth appear whiter, but it also allows brushing at home to more effectively clean your teeth.

Thorough Cleaning

After removing any calculus, your dental hygienist will then use a high powered electric brush to thoroughly clean each individual tooth and remove any leftover calculus residue. The toothpaste that is often used has a slightly gritty consistency, which allows for a gentle scrub and polish of your teeth.

Professional Flossing

While daily flossing is an important step in your at-home oral care and plaque buildup prevention, many Americans don’t do so consistently, making it even more important to have a dental hygienist clean your teeth. Even if you do floss regularly, having it done by a professional takes your oral health to the next level.

Fluoride Treatment

The use of fluoride in toothpaste and community water has reduced cavities and gum disease drastically over the last 60 years. Working like a set of armor, fluoride bonds to your enamel, protecting your teeth from bacteria. Fluoride treatment by a dental hygienist helps give your oral health that extra defense and plays a big part in preventing decay.

Professional Teeth Cleaning in San Marcos

While doing your part to take care of your teeth and gums is important, you can’t replace a quality, professional cleaning. If you haven’t had your teeth cleaned lately, make an appointment! You can sit back, relax, and let a professional dental hygienist do the heavy lifting in making sure your teeth and gums get the best care possible. Call Carothers Family Dental, a San Marcos family dentistry, at 512-396-4288 to learn more today.

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Periodontal Disease: What It Is & How to Prevent It
Dentistry Tips from your San Marcos TX Dentist Office

Periodontal disease affects millions of Americans, many of whom are not even aware of its presence. Becoming aware of it early is the best way to prevent as much damage as possible to your teeth and gums. Periodontal disease means “disease around the teeth,” and this is exactly what it is, plain and simple. This condition usually starts as inflammation of the gums called gingivitis. With proper care, gingivitis can be reversed. Without proper care, periodontal disease will develop, which can spread to other ligaments and areas that keep your teeth in place. If ignored, periodontal disease can lead to the permanent loss of your teeth due to loss of the supporting structures of your teeth: bone and tissue attachment.


One common cause of periodontal disease is plaque. Plaque is caused by bacteria, mainly from leftover food. You can feel this developing as a sticky substance that appears over your teeth. In an effort to rid your mouth of the germs, your body attacks the gums, causing them to become inflamed. As your mouth produces more and more substance to fight it, if left unchecked, your teeth end up with layers of plaque hardening into calculus, which works its way up to your gum line, infecting the whole structure.

Plaque is not difficult to deal with in the beginning stages of the buildup. If you cannot get everything by properly brushing and flossing your teeth, your dental hygienist will be able to remove these hardened bacteria from your teeth for you in a regular teeth cleaning. However, as more and more layers build up on your teeth, the plaque hardens into a substance called calculus, which is very hard and is much more difficult to treat. Avoid this problem by having your teeth regularly cleaned by a dental hygienist in conjunction with your semi-annual dental checkup.

Other Factors

While plaque buildup is the main cause of periodontal disease, there are other causes to this gum infection aside from poor dental care over time, such as those listed below:

  • Some people are more genetically inclined to develop periodontal disease, though consistent oral care can still prevent this from happening.
  • High stress is a huge factor in periodontal disease because stress weakens your body’s immune system, limiting its ability to fight off the infection in your gums (as well as other forms of illnesses).
  • Some medications, such as antidepressants and blood pressure medication, cause dry mouth, which can also lead to periodontal disease. Your mouth’s natural saliva production helps constantly wash away food products throughout the day, so without it, you have little defense against infection. This is one reason why it is common for those who struggle with high blood pressure and heart conditions to also have dental issues as well.
  • One of the most common external factors that causes periodontal disease is smoking and the use of other tobacco products. Smokers tend to develop heavier layers of plaque on their teeth, causing their periodontal disease to be much harder to treat. The best treatment for this is to stop using tobacco products altogether.

The best way to avoid periodontal disease, whether you are genetically predisposed or not, is to maintain a proper oral care routine, such as brushing and flossing twice a day. Ask your dentist for the best brushing and flossing techniques to ensure you are effective in your home oral care. Having consistently scheduled appointments with your dentist is your best bet to avoid the development of an issue that will be more extensive and costly to treat. If you haven’t made it in for a cleaning recently (in over 6 months) make an appointment so that you can rest assured that you are doing everything to maintain a healthy set of teeth and gums!

Do you have concerns about the health of your teeth or gums?
Contact Carothers Family Dental, a San Marcos family dental office, for more information at 512-396-4288.

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Oral Cancer Screenings
From Our Dental Office in San Marcos, TX

Your oral health is about more than just your teeth. Your dental professional takes care of your teeth, the bones of your jaw, your gums, and other oral tissues. One important issue that dentists look for during your checkups is signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer screening should be completed regularly to ensure that any symptoms are noticed immediately.

What is Oral Cancer?

There are many types of oral cancers that can affect various areas of your mouth. Some develop on the tissue inside your mouth, others may develop on the lips, and some appear on salivary glands. These types of oral cancer can range from benign tumors to various carcinomas. Some types of these oral afflictions can be removed with surgery, while others will need some form of chemical or drug therapy to treat. Regardless of the type of cancer, it’s best if the symptoms are caught as early as possible so that treatment can be provided early on.

How Does My Dentist Perform an Oral Cancer Screening?

Many dentists perform a basic oral cancer screening at dental checkups, so you’ve probably had one before even if you didn’t realize it at the time. To perform an oral cancer screening, a dental professional will thoroughly examine your lips, tongue, gums, the roof of your mouth, and other tissue inside your mouth visually and sometimes by gently probing the areas.

There are different levels of screening for oral cancer. At a regular dental checkup your dentist will likely perform a basic exam such as that described above by visually inspected the areas of your mouth and throat. If anything seems unusual to your dentist, he or she may perform additional examinations. This might include simply rinsing your mouth with a dye that will make it easier to notice unusual cells, or in some cases your dentist may suggest a biopsy.

What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can be preceded by some symptoms that are noticeable to you but which you may not think to mention to your dentist. These can include jaw pain or difficulty moving your jaw, pain in your tongue or difficulty moving it, white or red patches on the tissue inside your mouth or on your tongue, difficulty or pain swallowing, a lump in your mouth, or other discomfort in or around your mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms or something that doesn’t seem right, it’s important to point them out to your dentist during your checkup or to a doctor.

What Can I Do to Prevent Oral Cancer?

While oral cancer can occur in anyone, there are some steps people can take to reduce their risk of developing it. Many of these are habits already promoted for healthy lifestyles, such as avoiding the use of tobacco products, protecting the skin on your lips from getting too much sun exposure by wearing lip products with sun protection, and limiting your alcohol intake. Additionally, if you’ve ever developed oral cancer and had it removed or treated, you should schedule regular checkups to ensure it doesn’t return.

Oral cancer can affect anyone, and the best way to avoid it is prevention and regular checkups with your local dentist. For information about oral cancer, or to schedule an appointment, contact Carothers Family Dental.

Our dentists in San Marcos TX work around the clock to help fix your dental emergencies as fast as possible.
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The Use of Lasers in Dental Treatments
From our Dentists in San Marcos, Texas

As technology advances, the tools and equipment used in dental procedures do as well. Many patients are familiar with examinations including x-rays and other dental tools. However, one piece of technology now used in dentistry isn’t nearly as well known: dental lasers. The use of lasers in dentistry is increasing for many reasons, including operational accuracy, protection from infection, quicker healing times, and more.

What are Dental Lasers?

“Laser” is actually an acronym meaning “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” There are many different types of lasers available, and those used in dentistry are chosen carefully to ensure they are most effective for the procedures they’ll be used in. Additionally, dentists always chose the safest lasers for dental procedures.

How Safe are Dental Lasers?

Having dental lasers used in an oral procedure may be new for some patients and may cause concern. However, the type of lasers used in dental work are not only safe when handled by a trained dental professional, but can also be safer than traditional dental tools in some ways. To name only one example, the light beam created by a laser can sterilize the affected area and reduce the presence of bacteria, minimizing the risk of infection.

What are the Benefits of Dental Laser Treatments?

Treatments that utilize dental lasers have a variety of benefits. As mentioned above, using lasers in dental procedures can reduce bacteria at the surgical site. In addition to this, dental lasers can often minimize discomfort for patients during and after the procedure as well. Lasers cause minimal tissue damage compared to some other methods. This can lead to faster healing time and even decreased need for anesthesia and sutures.

What are Some Uses of Dental Lasers?

Lasers can be used in many types of dental procedures, from whitening treatments to oral surgeries. They can also be used for in treatments like these:

In Gum Treatments

Dental lasers can be used in a variety of gum treatments, such as reshaping gum tissue during certain procedures. In the case of some oral infections, dental lasers may also be used by your dentist to remove inflamed gum tissue.

On Teeth

Lasers are used less often directly on teeth, but can still be helpful in that area. Dentists can use lasers to remove tiny amounts of enamel from teeth when necessary. Some whitening treatments can also be accelerated when using lasers.

Preparation for Other Oral Procedures

In addition to those mentioned above, there are several oral procedures for which dental lasers can help prepare teeth and tissue. For crown lengthening, lasers can be used to reshape gum tissue and even bone if necessary. They can also be used in preparation for composite bonding by preparing the tooth enamel. Dental lasers can even be used to help repair some worn down fillings.

The Importance of Prevention

While dental laser technology is an exciting advancement in oral treatments, the best way to keep your teeth and mouth healthy is prevention. Take good care of your teeth daily by brushing and flossing regularly. Remember to visit your dentist for regular dental checkups and whenever you experience pain or another dental problem.

Our Dental Office in San Marcos TX

Curious about the use of dental lasers in today’s oral treatments? Contact Carothers Family Dental, a dental office in San Marcos TX , for more information about cosmetic dentistry or to schedule an appointment.

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Whole Body Health And Your Oral Hygiene
San Marcos Dental

The information available on the link between your oral health and your body’s health has increased in recent years. Not everyone is familiar with the many ways what’s happening in your mouth can affect the rest of your body, but the link is actually a fairly important one. Not only can your oral health be connected to the rest of your body, but it can also be a symptom of other potential health risks.

The Connection Between Mouth and Body

Your mouth is an important indicator of what’s going on in your body. Problems that start in the mouth can affect other parts of your body. The opposite is also true: issues in your body can cause symptoms that appear in the mouth. This is one of the reasons that maintaining oral hygiene is so important.

Signs to Watch For

Since the health of your mouth is so important to your body, it’s imperative that you pay attention to it. Even if your oral hygiene is stellar, take notice of irritating or recurring issues, even if they’re small. Symptoms you may be tempted to ignore, such as a toothache or tender gums, could be a sign of conditions that need treatment, and you should see your dentist. Inflammation or swelling in your mouth is a sign you should pay special attention to. Even if the problem turns out to really just be a cavity, it’s important to get it treated all the same.

Common Correlations

Periodontitis and Diabetes

A significant connection has been established between periodontal disease and diabetes. These two conditions affect each other, which can be both a detriment or benefit. Periodontitis is an infection that affects your gums, and if left untreated can quickly become a serious problem that can damage the bone beneath your teeth. The inflammation caused by periodontitis can make it difficult to utilize insulin in the body. This can cause serious complications for those with diabetes if not treated.

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

The correlation between gum disease and heart disease is also significant. Those with heart disease are more likely to develop gum disease than those without. The inflammation of the mouth and gums that comes with gum disease is thought to be an additional risk factor for heart attacks. This is due to the resulting inflammation that can occur elsewhere in the body.

Oral Bacteria and Alzheimer’s

A connection between oral bacteria present in periodontitis and Alzeheimer’s is also suspected. In a research article by Stephen S. Dominy and additional researchers published in Science Advances, it was noted that bacteria associated with periodontitis was detected in patients with Alzeheimer’s. Research is ongoing, however the significant link between periodontitis and Alzeheimer’s has encouraged many to pay special attention to their oral healthcare.

Preventative Care

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is an important part of keeping your body healthy and preventing oral health problems. Luckily, keeping your mouth healthy can be easily accomplished with some diligence and helpful habits. Brush your teeth after you eat as often as possible, and floss regularly. Keep an eye on your diet as well, as some foods can harm your teeth if eaten in excess. In addition, visit your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and x-rays that will help catch problems early.

Carothers San Marcos Dental

There are many dentists in San Marcos Texas. Do you have more questions about how your oral hygiene affects your whole body health? Then contact Carothers Family Dental, one of the best dentist in San Marcos TX, to get more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Brushing Your Teeth – Tips and Techniques for Healthy Hygiene
Family Dentist San Marcos

You may have heard many different suggestions for the best ways to brush your teeth. From how long you should spend brushing to whether you should use a regular toothbrush versus an electric one, there are many opinions out there. Here we’ll look at some popular brushing techniques, and which ones will really help keep your teeth clean and healthy.

Moving Your Jaw as You Brush

Moving your face or jaw while you’re brushing your teeth can be helpful as it allows you to reach parts of your teeth that otherwise might be difficult to access. However, if done incorrectly it can turn into a hindrance. For instance, one common problem when moving your face as your brush is doing so constantly, which can lead to uneven brushing. However, if you practice focusing on brushing each area of your mouth carefully, moving your mouth can ensure that you brush every tooth properly.

Focus on All of Your Teeth

You’ve likely heard it before, and it’s true: you need to brush each of your teeth. This means not just the top of the crown, but the sides of each tooth as well. Brushing your front teeth is equally important. Neglecting to do so can lead to a yellowish appearance and red gums. Always remember to pay attention to the area behind your front teeth as well, as this area builds up plaque easily.

Don’t Destroy Your Brush

Many people assume that when you brush your teeth, you have to brush hard in order to really clean them. However, brushing too hard or too roughly can end up doing more harm than good. Being too rough can cause damage to your gums, and destroy your toothbrush. Brush firmly, but don’t risk damaging your mouth. A soft or extra soft bristle brush is recommended.

Rinsing After Brushing

If you are prescribed a prescription strength mouthwash it is not recommended to rinse after brushing. This allows the extra fluoride time to sit on your teeth and restore lightly damaged areas. If you have a desire to use mouthwash, it needs to be alcohol free. This prevents your mouth from drying out and causing damage to your teeth. There are many varieties of mouthwash available that contain fluoride. This is a great preventative measure to take for decreasing the risk of cavities forming.

Visit Your Dentist In San Marcos Tx

The best way to maintain healthy dental hygiene is to visit your dentist regularly in addition to brushing often at home. Your local dentist can answer any questions about your oral hygiene, as well as catch cavities and other potential problems before they become serious issues. Not sure if your current brushing regimen is working? Just ask your dentist!

Your local family dentist in San Marcos Tx can teach you the best brushing habits as well as provide professional teeth cleaning in San Marcos that will keep your smile healthy. Contact Carothers Family Dental today for more information.

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Cosmetic Dentistry 101

What is one of the first things you notice about someone you meet? For many people, they notice someone’s smile. After all, who doesn’t want a nice bright smile? Straight teeth make you feel more confident. But that’s not all. Having a beautiful smile is about more than just looking good. Fixing dental imperfections that affect your appearance can also improve your bite, dental health, and well-being.

What is cosmetic dentistry? 

When you think of cosmetic procedures, you might be thinking of a nip here or a tuck there. But when it comes to your teeth, what is cosmetic dentistry? Cosmetic dentistry is the term typically used to refer to dental procedures that improve the appearance of your teeth or bite.

Keep in mind; most dental procedures should be beneficial cosmetically. For example, a procedure, such as a bridge or an implant not only improves the function of your teeth but also has a cosmetic benefit.

What are the Benefits of Cosmetic Dentistry?

Who doesn’t want to look their best? An obvious benefit of cosmetic dentistry is it improves your appearance. But there is an old saying that beauty is more than skin deep.”

Improving your smile does more than enhance the way you look. Fixing dental imperfections can also boost your self-image and confidence. Even a subtle change in your teeth and smile can make a difference in how you feel.

When you think about changing your life, a visit to your dentist is probably not the first thing that comes to your mind. But feeling better about your smile and how you look is often a game changer. If you feel confident, it can change your outlook on things, which affects all areas of your life.

How Can Cosmetic Dentistry Improve My Smile?

So, you’re sold on the idea of a healthy mouth and improving your smile. But what are your options? We’re glad you asked. Procedures that may improve the appearance of your teeth and in many cases the functioning include the following:


A veneer is a thin piece of material placed on top of a natural tooth to correct or repair chipped, strained, or misaligned teeth. Veneers are usually made of resin material or porcelain. If you’re having more than one tooth repaired, veneers adhere to each individual tooth to improve your smile. Your dentist will be sure to match the veneer with the color of your other teeth to create a natural appearance.


A crown is a prosthetic tooth that is made of various materials including ceramic, stainless steel, and porcelain. Crowns are an excellent option to repair a broken or weak tooth. Usually, crowns are needed if a tooth is too weak to be repaired with a filling alone. Opting for a crown is a great way to improve both the function of a tooth and the appearance.

Usually, it takes two appointments to have a crown. During the first appointment, the decay from your tooth is removed, and the tooth is filled and prepared, so it supports the crown. An impression of your teeth is taken, and the permanent crown is made in a dental lab. Your dentist will match the color of the crown to your other teeth, so it blends in naturally.

A temporary crown is placed while you wait for your permanent crown to be made. During your second appointment, the crown is placed over your tooth and cemented in place.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is one of the easiest ways to enhance your smile. As we age, our teeth often lose their natural brightness. Eating and drinking certain things, such as coffee, red wine, and berries can also stain teeth.

Whitening can take your teeth from a yellowish hue to a white smile. Both at-home and in-office teeth whitening are available. At-home whitening is often a convenient option for many people.

At- home whitening involves wearing custom-made trays and a whitening agent. The whitening agent placed in the trays comes in preloaded syringes, so it’s user-friendly. Trays can be worn overnight or during the day.

Custom-made trays fit your teeth better than over the counter store bought products. Wearing a custom-made tray helps the whitening agent cover every angle of your teeth, which provides optimal results.

It’s helpful to wear the trays on consecutive days until your teeth are your desired color. The number of days it takes to reach your desired shade depends on how discolored your teeth are. Keep in mind, teeth whitening products will not brighten veneers or crowns.

How Do I Know What Procedure is Right for Me?

With all the cosmetic dentistry options you have, how do you know what is best? The dental problem you are hoping to correct plays the biggest role in which procedure is most appropriate. In some cases, you may have more than one option that would work well.

It’s also essential to determine if any cosmetic dental issues are due to an underlying problem, such as gum disease. A thorough dental exam helps your dentist identify any problem areas.

Choosing the best cosmetic dental procedure may also depend on several factors, such as your cavity rate, periodontal health, and your bite. Your dentist will work with you to determine what type of cosmetic dentistry is right for you. The bottom-line is if you are unhappy with your smile, you can do something about it. There are several ways to enhance both your appearance and dental health!

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Tooth Whitening for a Bright Smile

Watch any Hollywood awards show, and you’ll see celebrities flash their bright smile as they walk the red carpet. Did you ever wonder how they get their teeth so white? Even good genes don’t prevent tooth discoloration from the foods and beverages we drink and eat. Fortunately, you don’t have to be rich and famous to achieve a pearly white smile.

Why Teeth Become Discolored  

If you don’t have super white teeth, you’re not alone. Many of us have varying degrees of discoloration that range from off-white to yellow to deeper golden hues. Yellow and gold may be on your color wheel, but not when it comes to your teeth. So, what causes those nice white teeth we have as kids to take on a darker tinge?

Even if you have healthy teeth, you’re not immune to tooth discoloration. There are several reasons your smile may not be as bright as it used to be. Some discoloration may just be due to genetics. Yep, blame it on your family. Genetics may play a role in the brightness and thickness of your tooth’s enamel, which in part determines if you have whitewashed teeth.

Aging is also one of the most common reasons some people experience tooth discoloration. Your teeth have a few different layers. The enamel is the outer layer. Under the enamel is an inner layer called dentin, which has a yellowish tint. As we age, the enamel may thin, which causes the dentin to show more and makes the teeth appear discolored.

Certain foods and drinks can also lead to discoloration. For example, red wine can stain your teeth. Unfortunately, white wine doesn’t reverse the discoloration. But seriously, many common foods and drinks can contribute to discolored teeth. In addition to wine, cola, blueberries, and tea can sabotage your bright smile.

In some cases, side effects from medication may be to blame for discolored teeth. Certain medications, such as high blood pressure drugs, can cause discoloration of the teeth. Trauma to the teeth can cause changes in the tooth’s structure, which also leads to discoloration.

One of the biggest culprits for yellow teeth is smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes, especially tar and nicotine, often lead to discoloration. The longer a person smokes, the worse the discoloration usually becomes.

What Can You Do About Discolored Teeth?

Whitening your teeth can cause an immediate positive change in your self-esteem and appearance. Having a bright smile helps you talk and laugh with confidence.

Pretty much everyone wants a nice white smile, but they may not know how to achieve it. The goods news is tooth whitening has never been easier. Over the counter whitening products, such as mouthwash, toothpaste and whitening strips are available to brighten your teeth.

Your best bet to get a whiter smile is at-home bleaching with custom-made bleaching trays and whitening products. The custom-made trays fit your mouth better than over the counter products. A better fitting tray makes the difference in your results. A custom-fitted tray helps ensure every angle of your teeth gets consistent coverage by the whitening product. Plus, the products dispensed through your dentist typically have a higher concentration of the bleaching agent, which means you get better results.

Keep in mind; no product can whiten your teeth several shades in only a few minutes. Chemically, the whitening agents cannot penetrate deep enough into the teeth to whiten teeth dramatically in a short time. For best results, tooth whitening should be done on consecutive days for a week or two or until the desired shade is reached.

Teeth whiteners are usually safe for most people. Some people may have some tooth or gum sensitivity. If tooth sensitivity occurs, try delaying whitening a few days. In most cases, tooth sensitivity is only temporary and usually disappears in a day.

Remember that tooth whitening does not work on bridges and crowns. Depending on the shade of discoloration, it may not be effective on all teeth. Talk to your dentist to determine what method of tooth whitening may be most effective for your situation. Always follow the instructions, since the overuse of whiteners may harm the tooth enamel.

Keeping Your Pearly Whites Bright

Once your teeth are pearly white, you want to keep them that way. Although certain factors that contribute to tooth discoloration, such as age and genetics, are uncontrollable, you can still do several things to keep your teeth looking good. Consider the following suggestions to keep your smile bright:

Stop smoking: If you smoke, you probably already know that it is bad for your overall health. It is also bad for your teeth. Smoking cessation programs, medications, and nicotine patches are available to help smokers break the habit.

Keep diet in mind: Once your teeth are whitened, they can become discolored again depending on your eating and drinking habits. If you want to keep your teeth white, consider the foods and beverages you eat and drink. Consider limiting certain things that stain the teeth, such as coffee, tea, and cola.

Use a straw: When you’re drinking certain beverages, such as cola or coffee drinks, using a draw limits the amount of contact the stain causing dyes have with your teeth.

Practice good oral hygiene: One of the best ways to keep your teeth white naturally is by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Have regular checkups and get your teeth professionally cleaned as recommended by your dentist.

Consider touchups: You can’t expect to whiten your teeth once and have it last a lifetime. To maintain a bright smile, you may have to use tooth whitening products periodically. How often you have to do a touchup depends on lifestyle factors, such as the foods and drinks you consume and whether or not you smoke. Talk to your dentist to make sure you are not using whitening products too often.

Use an ADA approved whitening toothpaste: To maintain your bright smile between touchups, consider using a whitening toothpaste. To be sure the toothpaste is approved by the American Dental Association, look for the ADA seal on the package.



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Dental Care Before and During Pregnancy

When you see a positive sign on a pregnancy test, your first thought is probably not to share the good news with your dentist. But keeping your chompers in good shape and your gums healthy is essential during pregnancy for several reasons.

Ideally, you should schedule a dental checkup before you become pregnant. If any dental issues are found, they can be treated ahead of time. After all, once you’re a mom-to-be, you’ll have enough to think about. You don’t need to add toothaches or gum disease to the list. Treating dental problems means one less thing to worry about.

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Call The Dentist

What You Should Know About Emergency Dental Care

No one wants to deal with a dental emergency, but stuff happens. Ignoring a problem or waiting too long can lead to extensive, and expensive dental work. Knowing what to do in a dental emergency can prevent complications and possibly save a tooth.

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Maintaining Good Oral Health

When you think of being healthy, what comes to mind? Is it maintaining a certain number on the scale, a healthy heart or having perfect, six-pack abs? Maybe it’s all of the above. Good health may mean different things to different people. One thing most of us can agree on is we want to feel and look our best.

To stay healthy, you might eat right, do Zumba or slather on sunscreen when you hit the beach. All of the above are good habits to stay healthy. But how often do you consider your oral health as part of living a fit, healthy lifestyle? You might be surprised to find out your oral health plays an important role in your overall wellbeing.

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Dental Care and Your Kids   

If you have kids, you know they sometimes beg for everything from the coolest toy to staying up 5 more minutes. But let’s face it, your kids are probably not begging you to take them to the dentist. Still, regular dental checkups are essential for kids from a very early age. From toddlers through their teen years, children should see their dentist regularly to prevent dental problems and maintain good oral health.

Starting Dental Care Early

Good dental habits start early. Your child should have their first dental visit even before they have a full set of choppers. According to the American Dental Association, children should have a dental checkup by their first birthday.

Dental checkups from an early age set the stage for good dental habits and help your child develop a positive attitude about going to the dentist. If you start early, by the time your little one is starting first grade, he will be going to the dentist like a pro!

Early checkups also help prevent tooth decay. If your baby’s teeth are just going to fall out, you might wonder why the fuss? But cavities in baby teeth put your child at a higher risk of developing cavities in their permanent teeth.

Dental visits also educate parents on the proper way to care for their baby’s teeth. Your dentist can offer advice on typical dental concerns and provide tips on how to get your little ones to brush.

Common Dental Concerns

Got questions? Your dentist has answers. It’s common for parents to have questions about common dental issues. For example, along with their favorite stuffed animal and a nightlight, your little one may find thumb sucking comforting. But should you worry? Probably not.

Most kids outgrow thumb sucking by about age three or four when they no longer find it comforting. If your child is holding onto the habit a bit longer, you may want to talk to your dentist about your concerns.

Tooth decay may also be a concern for parents. It might be surprising, but about 25 percent of kids develop a cavity before kindergarten. Bacteria in your child’s mouth feeds off sugar, which is why you should avoid putting your baby or toddler to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. The fluid can pool in their mouth, and tooth decay can develop.

Trauma to the teeth can also be an issue. Wobbly toddlers can fall and bump their mouth, knocking a tooth loose. If you have a little athlete, they can also injure their teeth playing sports. You can’t prevent every fall your toddler takes or an elbow to the mouth on the playground. But the good news is when your child is playing sports, mouth guards can offer protection against broken teeth.

Mouth guards are needed if your child is involved in certain activities, such as hockey, football and lacrosse. Mouth guards may also be a good idea if your child participates in other activities that have a high fall risk including skateboarding and skiing.

Think about it. You would not send your pee wee football player out on the field without pads or your tee-ball player up to bat without a helmet. Consider a mouth guard an important part of your child’s sports gear. A mouth guard cushions any blows to the mouth that your child may get and may prevent a tooth from being damaged.

Healthy Habits for Good Dental Health

Your nine-year-old is probably not thinking about what they can do to maintain good dental health. So it’s up to you to help your child develop good dental habits that will last a lifetime.

You can start with proper brushing and flossing. When your kids are little, you’ll have to do it for them and gradually teach them how to brush. Consider getting a vibrating toothbrush or one that plays music so your kids know how long to brush.

As we all know, it’s best to avoid giving your kids too many sugary treats. Although an occasional piece of candy or a couple of cookies is not going to hurt, eating sugar filled foods all the time spells trouble for your child’s teeth. When your kids do have sugary foods or drinks, be sure they brush their teeth or rinse their mouth to wash the sugar away.

Secrets for a Good Dental Checkup for Your Kids

When the time rolls around for your kids to have a dental checkup, there are a few things you can do to make it go smoothly. Consider a few of the following suggestions:

Make it fun: Although a trip to the dentist is not quite like going to an amusement park, it can still be a positive experience for your kids. Talk about how they will get a new toothbrush, pick out flavored fluoride and select a prize from the toy box. Make it a good experience and praise your child for a job well done.

Keep your cool: If your child is freaking out when he hits the dental chair, don’t stress. Getting upset won’t help the situation. Try to avoid jumping up and leaving, which will only make it harder the next time around. Instead, talk calmly and reassuringly to your child and work together with your dentist to help him/her relax.

Check your anxiety at the door: Maybe you’re a little gun-shy when it comes to seeing the dentist. Your kids can pick up on your emotions. So if you start to sweat when you get to the dentist, your child may also get stressed. Take a few deep breaths and put your nerves aside.

Explain what they can expect: If you have little kids, use age- appropriate language they will understand. For example, a three-year-old is not going to understand details about cavities and tooth decay. Keep it simple. For school age kids, be honest about what they can expect without scaring them. For instance, you can explain a procedure without using the words drill, needle or hurt repeatedly, especially in the same sentence.

Remember, good oral health is important for overall wellbeing. Plus, those little pearly whites have to last your child a long time. Start your kids off right on the path to good dental health!

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Common Dental Issues And How To Fix Them

Think about all that biting, chewing and talking you do all day long. Your teeth are under quite a bit of strain. It’s no wonder dental issues might occur from time to time.

When you think of dental problems, cavities and gum disease might come to mind. But there are also other common dental issues that can range from embarrassing to interfering with good oral health. Here are a few of the following common dental problems and what you can do about them.


Bad Breath

Ask yourself a few questions. Do people always offer you gum? Has anyone ever threw a breath mint in your mouth as you were talking? Do people slowly back away as you speak? If you answered yes to any of the above, you might have halitosis.

Don’t worry, halitosis is not deadly. Halitosis is the technical name for bad breath, and it’s a pretty common dental issue.

Whether it was those garlic fries you ate last night or the cup of coffee you just guzzled, everyone gets bad breath from time to time. But bad breath can occur for other reasons. For example, postnasal drip, tooth decay and gum disease can also all cause bad breath.

The good news is if you have stubbornly stinky breath, there are several things you can do to keep your breath fresh. Maintaining good oral hygiene is a must to prevent bad breath. Brush twice a day, use mouthwash and floss daily. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, which has more bacteria on it than you might realize.

But scrubbing your teeth until they gleam is not enough. It’s essential to see your dentist twice a year for regular checkups, professional cleanings and to catch problems early. If you’re concerned about bad breath, don’t hesitate to talk with your dentist, just pop a mint first.


Dry Mouth

We probably all have experienced that feeling as if we had a mouth full of cotton. Whether it’s meeting a blind date or giving a speech at work, you might develop that sticky, dry feeling in your mouth. An occasional dry mouth due to nerves is normal. But if you’re dealing with a dry mouth on a daily basis it can be more than just a nuisance. A chronically dry mouth can increase your chances of tooth decay.

If you’re wondering what salvia has to do with gum disease, the answer is a lot. After you eat, saliva washes away particles of food left behind. It also contains certain minerals that help protect the teeth. When saliva is lacking due to chronic dry mouth, your risk of developing plaque and gum disease increases.

Dry mouth can occur as a side effect of taking some medications. It can also be a symptom of certain medical conditions, such as Sjorgren’s syndrome. But dry mouth can be treated. Treatment for dry mouth should include a visit to your dentist. Your dentist may prescribe a treatment to help you produce more saliva or suggest antibacterial mouth rinses and more frequent cleanings to prevent gum disease.


Sensitive Teeth

Who doesn’t love an ice cream cone on a hot summer day or a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy night? But both can make you wince if you suffer from tooth sensitivity. Hot and cold food and drinks can lead to pain for people who have sensitive teeth.

It might not only be hot or cold foods and drinks that cause pain for people with sensitive teeth. Sweet foods and even breathing in cold air can cause pain in some cases. Teeth sensitivity often gets worse over time.

What happens is your teeth might develop tiny cracks, or your gums can recede, which exposes the nerve root. Your tooth enamel can also become worn down over time. Certain medical conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, can lead to an erosion of the tooth enamel. Drinking and eating highly acidic foods and beverages can also speed up how fast your tooth enamel wears away.

The first step to treating sensitive teeth is a trip to your dentist, who can recommend toothpaste options that have low levels of abrasives. Your dentist may also recommend treatments including fluoride varnishes and fluoride rinses or gels, which are formulated to decrease teeth sensitivity.

In addition, be sure to give your teeth a little TLC. Vigorous brushing or using a hard toothbrush, won’t help your teeth and may even damage the enamel.  Use a soft bristle toothbrush and clean your teeth without brushing too aggressively.


Teeth Grinding

It might sound like a freight train roaring through the night. But wait a minute; it’s just you grinding your teeth in your sleep. Although some people unconsciously clench their jaw while they are awake, most clenching and teeth grinding happens while you are sleeping.

If you grind your teeth, you might not know about it until your spouse tells you. In fact, teeth grinding may bother your partner more than it does you. But teeth grinding or clenching can have several negative effects.

Teeth grinding can cause more than those not-so-gentle nudges from your partner during the night. Jaw pain, morning headaches and loose or worn down teeth can all develop due to teeth grinding.

So what’s up with all that clenching and grinding your teeth while you sleep? Researchers are not exactly sure why some people grind their teeth, but stress may be a cause. Misaligned teeth may also cause teeth grinding in some cases.

But you don’t have to just live with teeth grinding. Finding ways to relax and unwind, such as listening to music, practicing yoga or doing deep breathing exercises may help you relax before bed.  Often times an occlusal bruxism guard is recommended.  This appliance is used to equilibrate your bite which can help relax your muscles. Also, talk to your dentist about restorative or orthodontic dentistry to fix misaligned teeth that may be contributing to teeth grinding.

At Sullivan & Carothers D.D.S., we’ve seen all of these problems and more, so if you are struggling with any of these common dental problems, give us a call at (512) 396-4288, we’d be more than happy to help!

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Implant or Bridge? A guide to deciding how to replace your missing tooth

Missing a tooth?  

A toothless smile on a baby is adorable. But on an adult, not so much. If you lost a tooth due to trauma or tooth decay, you know how embarrassing, and frustrating it can be. You might be self-conscious when you talk and even reflexively cover your mouth when you smile.

Consequences of a Missing Tooth

But a missing tooth is not like a bad hair day and just about appearance.  Even if you only have one missing tooth, and it’s not visible when you smile or talk, it can have a significant impact on your dental health. For example, when you have a tooth missing, the nearby teeth may drift towards the gap leading to shifting and misaligned teeth.

If shifting teeth are not enough to freak you out, your jawbone under the missing tooth can also start to wear away. Here’s what happens: although you don’t realize it, teeth make contact with each other all the time when you chew and talk. This contact provides stimulation to the jawbone. Without the stimulation, the jawbone can eventually deteriorate.

If enough bone is lost, it can affect the way you speak and even your appearance can change. Losing bone decreases support of your facial structures. Have you ever noticed that someone without teeth has a sunken-in or sagging facial appearance? A sagging facial appearance makes you look older than you are. Considering how much effort most of us put into looking younger, this is just somewhat counter productive.

Options: Bridges and Implants

Yikes! If all the effects of missing teeth sound like a big deal, it is. The moral of the story is if you have a lost tooth, now is the time to do something about it. Fortunately, when it comes to replacing missing teeth, you have options. Both bridges and dental implants are good choices to restore one or more missing teeth. But before you decide which procedure to go for, it’s important to understand what is involved with each.

A dental bridge is just like what it sounds; a replacement tooth that spans the gap or creates a bridge between two teeth. If you opt for a dental bridge, it typically consists of two crowns and a prosthetic tooth in the middle. The crowns are placed on the adjacent teeth to hold the bridge in place. Before the bridge is placed, the teeth on both sides of the missing tooth have to be shaped so the crowns can fit.

Back in the old days, the only way to restore missing teeth was dentures and bridges. But now dental implants are also an option.  A dental implant works somewhat differently than a bridge. An implant does not just replace the missing tooth, but also replaces the tooth root. So why does that matter? Replacing the root can prevent the breakdown of the jawbone, which is optimal.

The way it works is an incision is made in your gum and an implant post is surgically placed. Now don’t freak out. You’ll be numb during the surgery and won’t feel anything. The site is given time to heal so the implant can integrate into the jawbone. New bone cells grow on and around the implant, holding the post in place.

After the implant has integrated into the jawbone, a connecting piece, called an abutment, is attached to the post. Lastly, a prosthetic tooth is placed on the abutment. Implants can be used to replace one tooth, as well as a full set of teeth.

Pros and Cons of Implants and Bridges

As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to both implants and bridges.

Advantages of Implants

  • Implants can lasts a lifetime, with proper care
  • Implants are easy to clean around
  • Acts like your natural teeth and can prevent bone loss that often occurs if you don’t replace a missing tooth
  • Does not require any drilling of the adjacent teeth


  • Implants are often more costly than a dental bridge
  • Not everyone may be a candidate for the procedure
  • Dental bridge may need to be replaced at some point
  • Some people find a dental bridge a bit harder to clean around than an implant

Dental bridges don’t involve surgery, and can usually be completed quicker and usually cost less than implants.

How to Choose Between a Bridge and an Implant

So with two good options, how do you decide what’s right for you? At Sullivan and Carothers, DDS, our dentists will go over all the pros and cons of each procedure and answer any of your questions.

When you’re thinking it over, there are several things you may want to consider.

  • What are your time constraints? The implant process often takes longer than a bridge. Once the implant is placed, you have to allow time for the bone to integrate with the implant.  This ensures long term success.
  • The health of the adjacent teeth. This may also play a role in your choice. If you opt for a dental bridge, the teeth on both sides of the missing tooth need to be strong enough to support the bridge. Some people don’t want to involve the neighboring teeth, which may make them lean towards an implant.
  • The amount of bone available for an implant. If your tooth has been missing for a while, some bone loss may have started. But in some instances, procedures, such as a bone graft, may be performed so the implant can be completed.

Remember, when it comes to choosing between a dental bridge and an implant, there is usually no right or wrong choice. What it often comes down to is your circumstances and personal preference. The important thing is to take action, replace the missing tooth and restore your smile and confidence!

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Why Treating Sleep Apnea is so Important

Why Treating Sleep Apnea is so Important

Does this sound familiar? You’re fast asleep, and you’re suddenly awakened by the sound of a freight train. But hold on; it’s just your partner snoring. Or maybe you’re on the receiving end of a not so gentle nudge to stop your snoring. The thing is sometimes snoring may be more than just annoying. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea.

If you or a loved one has sleep apnea, you probably already know it can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep apnea leads to poor quality sleep because it causes frequent pauses in breathing overnight. Although the pauses are brief and usually only last a few seconds, they can occur 20 or more times an hour overnight.

Although someone with sleep apnea may not become fully awake during pauses in breathing, their sleep cycle is still affected. Sleep is fragmented, which results in a variety of consequences. Imagine waking up 20 times or more an hour. It’s no wonder sleep is not restful.

There are three types of sleep apnea including mixed, central and obstructive with the latter being the most common. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) develops when tissue in the rear of the throat collapses or sags and blocks the airway.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea  

Sleep apnea is pretty common. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, about 18 million people have sleep apnea. But sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Many people are not aware of the symptoms or dangers of untreated sleep apnea, so they don’t seek help.

In addition to snoring, symptoms of sleep apnea include morning tiredness and headaches. But not everyone who snores and is tired in the morning has sleep apnea. If you want to get to the bottom of a snoring problem, a sleep study is a good way to start.

A sleep study is a pretty straightforward test. You’ll be monitored overnight while you sleep. During a sleep study, your heart and respiratory rate, along with your oxygen level and eye movements are monitored during different stages of sleep. Your doctor will review your symptoms, along with the results of the sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea.

More than Sleepiness

After a bad night’s sleep, you probably know how you might be dragging the next day. We’ve all been there; cranky, tired and desperate for coffee. But for people with obstructive sleep apnea, poor sleep is a chronic problem and can affect several areas of their life. For example, a lack of good sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, decreased motivation and poor work performance. But that’s not all, sleep problems can lead to mood disturbances, including depression, and can impact relationships. Sleep deprivation can also increase your risk of a motor vehicle accident.

Medical Conditions Associated with Sleep Apnea

It’s clear that sleep apnea if left untreated, can have a lot more serious consequences than just leaving you tired and irritable the next day. But you might be surprised to learn how many serious medical conditions are associated with sleep apnea. In fact, potential consequences of sleep apnea are downright scary.

For instance, sleep apnea is associated with a variety of potentially life-threatening conditions including heart disease, strokes and diabetes. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 50 percent of people who have obstructive sleep apnea also have high blood pressure. Researchers theorize the pauses in breathing and hormonal changes that can occur overnight may contribute to hypertension.

Certain cardiac conditions are also linked to sleep apnea. So what gives? How can sleep apnea lead to heart disease? Researchers are not exactly sure how sleep apnea increases your chances of developing heart disease and having a heart attack. But remember, if you have sleep apnea, your breathing stops and starts often overnight. During these pauses, the oxygen level in your blood decreases. One theory on how sleep apnea can lead to cardiac problems is the decreased oxygen levels in the blood may damage the vessels that supply blood to the heart.

Another problem is the damage that is done may not just occur overnight while you’re sleeping. Doctors believe that the decreased oxygen levels at night may trigger various physiological changes that continue during the daytime even during normal breathing.

If cardiac conditions and hypertension were not enough, sleep apnea is also linked to diabetes. In fact, according to the International Diabetes Federation, about 40 percent of people with obstructive sleep apnea will develop type 2 diabetes. Although being overweight is a risk factor for both sleep apnea and diabetes, some studies indicate the association between the conditions may be independent of obesity.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

Since sleep apnea may lead to serious medical problems, it’s easy to see why treatment is important ASAP. But not all treatment is right for every patient. There are different treatment options that may work for people with sleep apnea, depending on the severity of your symptoms and your preference.

What works for one person may not work for another. That’s why at Sullivan and Carothers, DDS, we take an individualized approach to treatment. For example, some people may benefit from using an oral appliance. A dental device, which is custom made, fits over your teeth and is worn at night. Although it might not sound pretty, the device can be an effective treatment. An oral appliance works by pushing your lower jaw forward and holding your airway open when you sleep. Our dentists will work together with your doctor to make the appliance and monitor its effectiveness.

Another option to consider is using a CPAP machine. CPAP is short for continuous positive airway pressure. If you use CPAP, you’ll wear a mask over your nose, which is attached by a hose to a small, CPAP machine. The machine is about the size of a shoebox or smaller. The machine generates air pressure, which is delivered to your airway through the mask. The pressure keeps your airway open while you sleep.

In most cases, an oral appliance or CPAP will be used to treat sleep apnea. But in cases where neither treatment works, surgery may be an option. There are different types of surgical procedures depending on your situation.

Keep in mind, many people with mild to moderate sleep apnea can be treated without surgery.  But one thing is for sure, treating sleep apnea can decrease your risk of certain conditions and improve your sleep and overall quality of life.

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Cosmetic Dentistry: More Than a Beautiful Smile

Should You Consider Cosmetic Dentistry?

Maybe you had a perfect set of pearly whites, but time took its toll. A crack here and a chip there can detract from your smile. Or you might have always had some bothersome dental imperfections, such as a gap between your teeth.

Either way, if you’re considering improving your smile, cosmetic dental procedures may be the way to go. Let’s face it; your appearance also affects the way you feel. If you’re unhappy about your smile, it can waver your confidence, leaving you self-conscious. Being happy with your smile compliments your overall dental health and well-being.

But it doesn’t stop at aesthetics and a strong self-esteem. Some procedures, such as those that repair cracked or chipped teeth, can also correct discomforting or painful dental problems, such as your bite or tooth decay.

What is Cosmetic Dentistry?

If you’re considering having a dental procedure, your first question may be: what is cosmetic dentistry? Some dentists define cosmetic dentistry as a procedure which is done to improve the appearance of the teeth.

But if you think about it, most dental procedures, such as crowns, implants and bridges, not only improve oral health, they also improve a person’s smile and have cosmetic benefits. So even if a procedure is done for the health of your teeth, all dentistry should be aesthetically pleasing.

But there are also some cosmetic procedures that are simply done to improve your appearance and are considered elective. Wait a minute. Making a deliberate trip to the dentist when you don’t absolutely need to? Sounds crazy right? But even procedures that are done primarily for aesthetics, such as tooth whitening, can have significant benefits. Although it does not improve the functionality of your teeth, having a brighter smile can boost your self-esteem and who doesn’t want that?

Cosmetic Dentistry Options  

Although we all have things about our appearance that we’re not too happy about, some issues are more of a concern than others. There are various types of cosmetic dentistry procedures ranging from simple to complex that may work for you.

The type of procedure recommended may depend on what you want to correct, your budget and time constraints. Remember not every imperfection needs to be corrected. What is a priority to one person may be no big deal to another.

Cosmetic dental procedures can help treat a wide variety of problems including gaps and misshapen teeth, cracked teeth and broken teeth. Whether you want subtle changes, major repairs, or anything in between, there is a variety of procedures available to improve your smile. Consider some of the following options:

Teeth Whitening: Even if your teeth are in good shape, they may not be as white as you like. Over the years, teeth can easily discolor. A cup of java may help you get going in the morning, or a glass of red wine might help you unwind at the end of a day. But both can stain and yellow your teeth. At Sullivan and Carothers, DDS, we offer at-home teeth whitening, which is a convenient and easy way to brighten your smile. If you are either looking for something fast or do not feel you would wear the trays at home, we offer several in-office bleaching options.

Bonding: Bonding is a simple and cost-effective way to improve the appearance of chipped teeth, lengthen teeth and close a gap between teeth. Bonding involves using a composite resin, which is shaped and polished to match your other teeth.

Veneers: Veneers are another cosmetic dentistry option, which involves placing permanent thin porcelain fronts on your teeth. Veneers are a good option to reshape worn teeth, restore discolored teeth or fix chips.

Implants: Dental implants are not only for cosmetic purposes, but they also provide restorative benefits. An implant replaces both the tooth root and the natural tooth using an implant post and an artificial tooth. It’s a great option to replace one or more missing teeth.

How can you Benefit from Cosmetic Dentistry?  

When you first think of cosmetic dentistry, you might think it’s entirely about appearance. But having a nice smile and being happy with how you look is not about being superficial. It’s about increasing your self-confidence. Everything from your love life to your job is affected by how confident you are.

Think about it. If you’re self-conscious about your teeth and smile, it can make you feel insecure in social situations and limit the things you do. You might even try to hide your teeth. Do you reflexively cover your mouth when you smile or laugh.

Cosmetic dental procedures may be elective as opposed to essential. But in many cases, they can also improve your dental health and provide restorative benefits. Enhanced appearance and improved dental health are not mutually exclusive. Replacing a missing tooth with a bridge or implant improves your smile. But it may also prevent your teeth from shifting and decrease bone loss in your jaw. So you’re not only leaving looking and feeling better, but you also improve your dental health.

While cosmetic dentistry won’t fix all of life’s problems, it can change the way you see yourself. Keep in mind, even small changes can have a big impact. Sometimes small steps are all it takes to boost your self-esteem. Improving your smile is about taking control of your life and making the changes you want. Having a smile you’re happy with may mean you smile more often, which is always a plus!

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