Easing Dental Anxiety

Posted by on Jun 14, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Oral Surgery | 0 comments

Visits to the dentist have the potential to trigger high levels of anxiety for some people. Dental fears and anxieties are particularly common among children. If you or your child struggles with dental fears, it may be good to know there are options available to help ease the stress of your upcoming visit.

One of these options is the use of nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective method of sedating a patient, which helps them to relax during a dental procedure. Here are some common questions and answers about nitrous oxide to help you better understand its use and determine if it is a good option for you or your loved one at your next dental visit:

How does Nitrous Oxide Work?

Often known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is a sedative agent mixed with oxygen that is inhaled through a small mask that fits over the patient’s nose. As you inhale through your nose with normal breathing, within a few short minutes you will start to feel its effects. 

What Does Nitrous Oxide Feel Like?

When in effect, nitrous oxide causes the patient to feel calm and comfortable as it creates a light-headedness or tingling within the body. Some people say that it makes their arms and legs feel heavy. 

Will I Be Conscious While Using Nitrous Oxide? 

The use of nitrous oxide does not cause a patient to lose consciousness or fall asleep. In fact, during use a patient can still hear and respond to any requests or directions from the dentist. The benefits, however, are that the patient is able to relax and remain calm during a procedure that under normal circumstances may cause them to be anxious.

How Long Does Nitrous Oxide Work?

The effects of nitrous oxide remain as long as the mask is on and the patient is breathing in the gas. As soon as the mask is removed, the effects of nitrous oxide begin to wear off. Within a few minutes of removing the mask, all effects are gone and the patient recovers all senses as normal. 

We at River Valley Smiles are here to help you have the best possible experience at our office so that you can receive the best dental care possible. If you think that the use of nitrous oxide is a good option for overcoming the barrier of dental anxiety for you or your child, we would love to talk with you about its use at your next visit. 

Wisdom Teeth – Potential Problems

Posted by on Jun 13, 2018 in Dental Hygiene, Oral Surgery | 0 comments

From birth, your mouth encounters many changes – from the breaking through of the first tooth in your first year of life to the loss of baby teeth and the growth of permanent, or adult, teeth throughout childhood. The last teeth to emerge from your gum line are known as wisdom teeth, or third molars. Wisdom teeth do not emerge in one’s mouth until later in adolescence, typically between the ages of 17-21.

Due to many factors, wisdom teeth are often recommended for removal either before or after they emerge at the gum line, as they can be accompanied with many potential issues. We want to help you understand more about the potential problems with these late-breaking molars and what you should do about them. Here are the most common causes for removal of wisdom teeth:

1 – Improper or Incorrect Growth

Before these third molars come in, there are 28 teeth present in one’s mouth. After these teeth break through, there are 32 teeth. Some people’s mouths simply do not have the space for these teeth and, as a result, the teeth come in improperly or incorrectly due to crowding or other issues. Especially when orthodontic or other dental care is involved, if we identify this is a likely scenario, we will recommend removal of these teeth before they cause problems in the mouth.

2 – Pain and/or Infection

Sometimes the emergence of these wisdom teeth can cause pain and/or infection. Issues with these third molars are more common for many reasons, one being they are harder to reach and keep clean. Their presence increases the potential of trapped food and difficulty flossing, which leads to development of bacteria and eventually harmful cavities in the back of the mouth.

3 – Inflamed Gums

When wisdom teeth emerge, it is common for a flap of gum tissue to form, causing food and bacteria to get trapped near the gum line. This tissue can become inflamed and eventually lead to gum disease. Due to the placement and likelihood of crowding of these teeth, it can be more challenging to address this effectively to prevent these issues. In this scenario, removal of these teeth is seen as the best option for the overall health of your mouth.

Here’s the good news: Some people live with their wisdom teeth their entire lives. If you do not experience any problems with your wisdom teeth, we do not recommend their removal. When these teeth come in correctly, they can aid in chewing and can remain healthy with the proper care (brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits) even in light of these potential obstacles. If you still have your wisdom teeth and do not experience any problems, you should not worry about having them removed. Instead, simply take particular care of these teeth and see our office regularly so we can help you monitor these teeth and your overall dental health.

We at River Valley Smile Center care about every stage of your mouth and its development. If you have any concerns about potential wisdom teeth or any other dental question, please call our office so we can help you get on the right track towards the most healthy mouth possible.  To schedule an appointment, call our friendly office staff or make an appointment online!

Gum Disease – Signs and Symptoms

Posted by on Jun 6, 2018 in Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

Gum disease is an inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding and supporting your teeth. Gum disease is progressive – starting as gingivitis, then leading to periodontitis and finally, advanced periodontitis. When left untreated, gum disease can cause a host of health issues that negatively affect your oral and overall health, including bone loss and even cardiovascular issues.

Gum disease is initially caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth that spreads below the gumline. The buildup of plaque causes the gums to become inflamed and swell. When the bacteria caused by plaque below the gumline is left to multiply, inflammation will occur and spaces, or “pockets” will form between the tooth and gum. Bacteria grow rapidly in these pockets, leading to further complications.

Early identification and treatment of gum disease is key to protecting your teeth and gums. If you are experiencing any of the following, please talk to our dental team about your concerns as they are often signs of gum disease (with or without pain):

-Swollen, tender, bleeding gums

-Receding gums

-Persistent halitosis

-Loose teeth

-Visible discharge surrounding the teeth or gums

The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. In this stage, plaque has built up at the gumline and gums have become infected. Typically, gums will have become swollen and bleed sometimes during brushing. At this early stage, solid brushing and flossing habits paired with regular dental cleanings can reverse the effects of gum disease. At later stages, periodontal treatment may be necessary.

Some people are more at risk for gum disease. Risk factors include age, smoking, and genetics. If you are concerned that you are at a higher risk, it is even more important to stay consistent with your oral hygiene routine as well as talk to our dental team about your concerns.

We at River Valley Smiles are here to help. If you are concerned about gum disease, please feel free to call our friendly office staff and make an appointment!

Choosing Dental Floss – What Kind Should I Use?

Posted by on May 30, 2018 in Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

Flossing as a regular part of a dental care routine can be a significant defense against gum disease and dental cavities. The purpose of floss is to remove food and dental plaque from between teeth and under the gumline where toothbrushes are unable to reach. The American Dental Association states that up to 80% of plaque can be removed from teeth simply by flossing. It is recommended that a person floss at least once per day before or after brushing to help clean between the teeth and near the gumline.

Just like toothbrushes, dental floss comes in a wide array of choices, with varied textures, materials, and coatings. What type of floss is best?

Although there is a plethora of options for floss, they typically come in one of two main styles: Traditional string floss and dental tape floss:

-Traditional string floss is round and typically comes either in waxed or unwaxed form.

-Dental tape floss is a flat floss, wider and flatter than its string floss counterpart. Dental tape is a bit stretchier than traditional string floss.

When choosing a floss, it is important to consider how much space is available between your teeth as well as the health of your gums. If you have a larger than typical spacing between your teeth, dental tape may be a better option as its flat surface will help you make contact with more of the tooth’s surface area. If your gum tissue is inflamed, start your flossing routine with a softer, traditional floss that will gently clean the area between your teeth with minimal disruption to the gums.

As well, a waxed floss vs. an unwaxed floss will slide more easily in between your teeth and will help prevent against breakage of the floss while in use.

If you have difficulty with dexterity or reaching the back of your mouth, a flossing tool or floss pick may be helpful. These are tools that hold the floss for you as you clean in between your teeth. The downfall with using flossing tools is the difficulty with angles to reach in between all of your teeth as well as the possibility of sharing bacteria from one area to another, as no new floss is used from start to finish.

At the end of the day, however, the key is simply to floss your teeth, regardless of the exact product you use. Studies have shown a significant impact by even flossing 2-3 times per week vs. not at all. Try a few different types of floss and see what works best for you! Use the floss that will keep you motivated to make this a regular part of your daily routine.

We at River Valley Smiles are here to help you implement the right oral hygiene habits for a lifetime of healthy teeth!

The ADA Seal of Approval

Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | 0 comments

With such a plethora of dental products on the market today, it can be difficult to determine which ones are best, which ones live up to their promises, and which ones will best support your oral hygiene practices to help you ensure a healthy smile for the long term. In order to ensure you are using products that actually work and are safe for use, start with the ADA Seal of Approval.

The ADA (American Dental Association) created the ADA Seal of Approval to help identify products that meet scientific standards to be both safe and effective. The seal has been in use since 1931 and is still today the gold standard when it comes to evaluating the safety and efficacy of dental products. The companies that earn this seal of approval are often asked to meet higher standards even than what is required by law. If products do not live up to these strict guidelines, they do not get the seal.

The ADA Seal of Approval is used on products from toothbrushes to toothpaste, water flossers, white strips, power toothbrushes, floss, and more. You can look for this universal seal on the label of your dental products, or visit this link to search to see if your product meets the mark:

For more information about the ADA Seal of Approval, visit the ADA site at:

If you have any concerns about your oral health or which dental health products our office specifically recommends, please feel free to ask at your next appointment.