My Blog

Posts for: July, 2015

By Ashley Harrison, DDS
July 30, 2015
Category: Oral Health

Professional basketball player Lamar Odom is sometimes known as “the candyman” because of his notorious fondness for sweets. But when his sweet tooth finally caught up with him — in the form of a mouthful of decayed teeth — the six-foot-ten-inch, 230-pound hoops star admitted that he had been avoiding treatment… because he was afraid of going to the dentist!

It took two Kardashians (Khloe and Kim) and a painful toothache to finally persuade Odom to sit in the chair. Once he did, it was found that he needed a root canal, a wisdom tooth extraction, and several fillings. Yet the fretful forward sailed through the whole set of procedures in a single visit, and walked out with a big smile afterward. How did his dentists make that happen?

Put it down to the “magic” of sedation dentistry. With anxiety-relieving medications that can be delivered orally (in pill form or by gas) or intravenously (into the bloodstream), the techniques of sedation dentistry can help even the most fearful patients get the dental care they need. That’s good news for about 50 percent of the population, who admit they’re at least somewhat afraid of the dentist — and even better for the 15 percent who avoid dental care completely due to their fear.

Dentists have a number of ways to ease apprehensive patients through a dental visit. An oral anti-anxiety drug can be given in pill form about an hour beforehand. Nitrous oxide (sometimes called “laughing gas”), which is administered by a mask placed over the mouth or nose, may also be used to relieve anxiety. The calming effects of these medications help make any nervousness melt away — and in many circumstances, mild sedation is all that’s needed to ease the fear.

For lengthier or more complex procedures, intravenous (IV) sedation may be recommended. Unlike deeper (unconscious) sedation, IV sedation doesn’t cause “sleep.” Instead, it puts you in a comfortable semi-awake state, where you can still breathe on your own and respond to stimuli… but without feeling any anxiety. And when the procedure is over, you probably won’t have any memory of it at all.

IV sedation can be administered by dentists who are specially trained and equipped with the proper safety equipment. While sedation is being provided, you will be monitored at all times by a dedicated staff member; when it’s over, you will rest for a while as the medication quickly wears off. Then (as is the case with oral sedation), you’ll need another person to give you a ride home.

Does sedation dentistry really work? Lamar Odom thinks so. “I feel so much better,” he said when his 7-hour procedure was over. “I feel like I accomplished something.”

If you would like more information about sedation dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”

By Ashley Harrison, DDS
July 23, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Night Guard  

While night guards are a very effective treatment for bruxism, or teeth grinding, most people don't find them terribly attractive. Therefore, if your Chico, CA dentist, Ashley Harrison, DDS, has mentioned that you might need one, you may find yourself wondering if a night Mouth Guardsguard is really necessary. After all, if your teeth grinding isn't bothering you, do you really need to treat it?

The fact is, many people who have bruxism don't even know that they have it. The grinding happens at night while the individual is sleeping, and they have no recollection of the grinding in the morning. Even if you aren't aware that you grind your teeth, you're at risk for complications. Here are four signs you might need a night guard.

1. Your Teeth are Cracked, Chipped or Worn

Teeth grinding puts a great deal of stress and pressure on your teeth, and oftentimes, your teeth simply cannot tolerate the pressure. The result is teeth that crack, chip or become excessively worn down. A night guard from your Chico, CA dentist acts as a protective layer between your teeth to help prevent this damage.

2. Your Jaw is Painful or Sore

Nighttime teeth grinding doesn't just put a lot of pressure on your teeth, it overworks your muscles as well. If your jaw is frequently sore or painful, especially in the morning, your night time teeth grinding workouts may be to blame.

3. You Have Frequent Headaches

Whether your headaches are completely debilitating or only mildly annoying, chances are that you'd like to get rid of them once and for all. If your headaches cannot be traced to a different cause, teeth grinding may be to blame, especially if you have other symptoms of bruxism as well.

4. Your Bite Feels "Off"

As your teeth grinding gradually chips and wears away at your teeth, your teeth may not fit together as well as they once did. The result is a bite that feels "off," and that can cause a fair amount of pain, discomfort or fatigue.

Without treatment, teeth grinding can lead to damaged teeth, headaches, expensive dental procedures and even tooth loss. Therefore, if Dr. Harrison says you need to wear a night guard, you need to listen! If you think you may suffer from bruxism and you'd like to know for sure, call your Chico, CA dentist to set up a consultation today.


By Ashley Harrison, DDS
July 15, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: braces   retainers  

After months of wearing braces, the big day has arrived — they’re finally off! Your teeth have been realigned and your smile is dazzling. You’re finished with orthodontic treatment, right?

Not quite — because if you want to keep your new smile you have one more treatment phase to go — wearing a retainer. Without this phase there’s a distinct possibility you could lose all the time, effort and expense of braces because your teeth could revert to their previous position.

To understand why, we have to consider how teeth can move in the first place. Although it may seem like your teeth are rigidly fastened to the jawbone, they’re actually held in place by the periodontal ligament, a strong, elastic gum tissue that lies between the teeth and the bone. Tiny fibers from the ligament attach to the teeth on one side and to the bone in a similar manner on the other side.

When pressure is applied to the tooth as happens with braces, the bone around the side of the tooth in the direction of the force will begin to dissolve (resorb), allowing the tooth to move in that direction. New bone will then build up on the other side to stabilize the tooth. Once the pressure is removed (when we take the braces off), there’s a tendency for the teeth, bone and gums to “remember” the old position and try to revert back.

The answer is a removable mouth appliance known as a retainer. Custom-designed to fit the teeth’s new position, the retainer helps hold the teeth in place until the bone completely sets around them. In the beginning, you may need to wear the retainer around the clock and then later only at night while you sleep. While you may only need to wear it for a few months (especially if you’re an adolescent or young adult) some patients may need to wear some form of retainer indefinitely. Your orthodontist will advise you how long depending on your individual situation.

While retainers may seem like an inconvenience, they’re extremely important for keeping or “retaining” the teeth in their new and better position. Following through on this important phase of treatment will help ensure you’ll keep your new smile for a long time to come.

If you would like more information on retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Why Orthodontic Retainers?