Handling Dental Emergencies

Posted by on Nov 8, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene, Oral Surgery | Comments Off on Handling Dental Emergencies

Although none of us like to experience them, due to accidents and other potential causes, there are times when dental emergencies occur. When they do happen, it is important to know how to respond to ensure the best possible outcome and the greatest likelihood for minimal long-term damage to your teeth.

With any emergency, we encourage you to first and foremost remain calm and keep a clear head to assess the situation. Although not all dental emergencies require immediate care and attention, if medical care is warranted, don’t hesitate to call 911 or make your way to the emergency room.

Below we outline some of the most common dental emergencies and how to handle them:

Cracked or Knocked-Out Tooth

If an accident leads to the damage of your teeth, whether a crack or the knocking out of a permanent, or adult, tooth, the best immediate course of action is to call our office right away.

In the event of a knocked out tooth, while you are making your way in to the office, attempt to place the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If it is impossible to put the tooth back in its correct root, the next best thing is to let the tooth sit between your cheek and gums in order to keep it moist and preserved until we can provide care.

In the event of a cracked tooth, your first course of action should be to rinse your mouth out with warm water to clean the area. Then, be sure to call our office for an appointment. Typically, cracked teeth may not be initially painful, but left untreated can lead to further damage, including loss of the tooth.

Bitten Tongue or Lip

If you bite your tongue or lip and break the skin, clean the area gently with water and cover it with a cold compress, applying pressure to get the bleeding to stop. In the case of a severe cut our wound, head directly to the emergency room as it is likely that stitches will be needed.

Permanent or Temporary Crown Comes Off

In the event that one of your permanent or temporary crowns come off, there is typically no immediate medical concern, but it is something you want to call our office about and get in to see us as soon as possible. If the tooth missing the crown is painful, you can temporarily reset the crown on the tooth using dental cream or toothpaste until you can get an appointment. It is important that you get dental treatment as soon as possible so we can reset the crown right away. When it is not in place, over time the teeth can shift and make it difficult, or even impossible, for the crown to fit properly.

Jaw Dislocation or Fracture

If you think you have dislocated or fractured your jaw, this is considered a serious dental emergency and you should go straight to the emergency room to receive care. The trauma you have experienced indicates a number of potential concerns that need to be assessed by an emergency medical professional.

Although this list is by no means exhaustive, it does give representation of the types of events that merit dental care, at home care, and emergency medical treatment. In a potentially life-threatening condition, however, don’t wait for our office to call you back – call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.

We do know that sometimes dental emergencies arise and that means that you need to be seen by our office right away. We reserve time in our daily appointment book for emergency dental care for our patients. If you find yourself in a situation requiring immediate dental care, call us and let us know what is going on so we can help provide the care that you need.

River Valley Smile Center is your family’s partner for long-term dental health and is here to help you and your family maintain optimal oral health for a lifetime. To schedule an appointment, call our friendly office staff at 479.646.0706 or, for your convenience, fill out an appointment request here:

How to Treat a Toothache 

Posted by on Oct 31, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | Comments Off on How to Treat a Toothache 

If you’ve ever experienced a toothache, you know full well that the pain is one that can vary greatly in severity and be difficult to identify exactly what teeth are affected. It is also a pain that most people would like to avoid when possible as it typically does not go away without treatment.

Anytime you have pain in and around the teeth and jaws, you are experiencing a toothache. The most likely culprit for such pain is typically tooth decay, an infection in your tooth, loose/broken fillings, or receding gums.

Here’s what you should do next time you experience a toothache:

Make an Appointment

To start, once you have a toothache (and certainly for no more than one or two days), it is important to schedule an appointment with our office. When you call, be sure to let us know where you are feeling the pain and give an indication of the severity and frequency of your pain. This will help us get you the care you need. Remember, the longer you avoid it, the worse the pain will get.

Treat at Home

While waiting for your appointment, there are several ways you can help treat the pain at home:

-Gently Brush and Floss: To ensure there is no remaining debris in the tooth area, gently brush and floss the affected tooth.

-Over the Counter Meds: If you are not taking any other medications that would make it unsafe, over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can be taken as instructed on the packaging. This will help temporarily relieve the intensity of your pain.

-Salt-Water Rinse: Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water. This will help cleanse the tooth, loosening any debris lodged in the teeth or in-between teeth. As well, the salt water rinse can help reduce swelling and boost the healing process. A great ratio is one teaspoon of salt to one cup of warm water.

-Apply Garlic: Garlic has long been known to have antibacterial properties. Crush a clove of garlic, mix with a little salt, and apply as a paste on the affected tooth.-

-Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress or ice pack to relieve your pain. (A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a light towel makes a great ice pack, by the way). Apply for a few minutes at a time. The cold constricts the flow of blood to the area, helping to numb the pain and reduce swelling/inflammation. 

What happens if you ignore the pain, leaving it untreated?

When you ignore your tooth pain the likelihood of the pain increasing in severity and frequency is very high. Also, if left untreated, the pulp within your tooth will eventually become infected, leading to a potential dental abscess that presents with severe, continuous throbbing pain. If it leads to this point, you will certainly be seeking immediate dental treatment.

Call our office right away if you have dental pain. River Valley Smile Center is your family’s partner for long-term dental health and is here to help you and your family maintain optimal oral health both now and for a lifetime. To schedule an appointment, call our friendly office staff at 479.646.0706 or, for your convenience, fill out an appointment request here:

Ways to Whiter Teeth

Posted by on Oct 25, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | Comments Off on Ways to Whiter Teeth

A recent study indicated that 6 out of 10 Americans believe a whiter smile would boost their self-confidence and the over the counter tooth whitening industry has soared to over $1.4B annually nationwide. America wants whiter teeth!  If you are concerned about the overall appearance of your (not so) pearly whites, you may be surprised to learn what are the culprits of teeth staining and what you can do to prevent and/or treat your teeth for a whiter smile!

What Causes Teeth Staining?

Although teeth staining can occur naturally with age, there are many common foods, drinks and other culprits that can cause our teeth to lose their luster. Knowing these culprits is the first step in obtaining a whiter smile, as you have to know what you are fighting against!


As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel wears thin. The underlying later, called dentin, is less white and more yellowish than the exterior layer. By taking care to maintain the enamel on your teeth, you can slow down this process to lengthen the whiteness of your smile.


Smoking is a terrible offender to the whiteness of your teeth. The tobacco causes brown stains that penetrate the small grooves and pits of your tooth enamel. Simply brushing will not remove these stains, which become further entrenched the longer you maintain a smoking habit. Stop smoking for your health and for your smile.

What you Eat and Drink

Whether good for you or not, some foods and drinks simply have the potential to stain your teeth more than others. If a food can stain your clothes, it also likely has the potential to stain your teeth. Although you may not want to stop eating certain foods simply due to their color, you can minimize staining by following a few simple guidelines. When consuming dark beverages, limit the amount of time you enjoy them, rinsing your mouth with water when finished. Also, after enjoying dark colored foods that have the potential to stain your teeth, be sure to brush your teeth immediately afterward and rinse your mouth with water to minimize their staining impact.

Antibacterial Mouthwashes and Antibiotics in General

If you have received any type of oral surgery, you may have been prescribed an antibacterial mouthwash. This wash often has the potential to stain your teeth. As well, some antibiotics and other meds also cause staining on your teeth as a side effect. Although you may not be able to stop their use, you can talk to our office about bleaching options or dental bonding if the staining becomes a significant issue.

How Can I Whiten my Teeth?

At Home Treatments: There are a number of at-home treatments you can buy, including whitening kits, whitening strips, whitening toothpastes and rinses. All of these treatments lighten stains using a mild bleaching agent or abrasives/cleaners on the surface of the teeth and may be a good option for minor staining in an at-home setting.

There are other possible treatments that may also help whiten your teeth, such as:

-Brushing with a paste of baking soda and water on a regular basis. Baking soda (known as sodium bicarbonate) is a great mild abrasive which can effectively remove surface stains from your teeth and make them appear whiter.

-As well, chewing sugarless whitening gum in between meals can help slowly whiten your teeth and/or minimize the effects of certain foods or drinks on the surface of your teeth. Not only will this help remove excess food debris from your teeth, the excess saliva will neutralize the acid that causes tooth decay. That is a win!

Professional Treatments: Professional whitening is a great option, especially if you have significant staining. Professional, in-office tooth whitening is a safe procedure under carefully monitored conditions that allows for safe administration of bleaching agents that yield immediate visible results to help you get the results you want in the minimum amount of time. If you’d like to discuss these options with our team, we would be glad to help you determine the best choice for you for the results you are seeking.

River Valley Smiles is here to help you achieve and maintain the smile you have always wanted and we are concerned about your overall oral health.

A Guide for Childhood Dental Hygiene

Posted by on Oct 17, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry | Comments Off on A Guide for Childhood Dental Hygiene

When it comes to dental hygiene, it is never too early to start training your children in proper oral health habits. From the time their first tooth emerges, you have an opportunity to begin developing proper tooth care that they will eventually (hopefully!) take over on their own for a lifetime of healthy teeth!

Below is a guideline for guiding your child in proper dental hygiene from birth through adolescence. Remember, studies say that it takes a minimum of 21 days for a new habit to form. If you’re just getting started in facilitating a solid brushing and flossing routine with your child, be prepared to stick with it for at least this long before it starts feeling like routine. Your diligence will pay off over time!

The First Year of Life

Typically, during the first year of life a baby’s first tooth emerges. At this point (or even earlier if you like), you should start cleaning their teeth and gums. By starting early, your child will get used to the daily routine. In these early months, a wet washcloth wrapped around your finger serves as the best toothbrush. At this point no toothpaste is needed. Simply wiping down the teeth and gums with a clean cloth is sufficient for removing harmful sugars from the surface of the teeth.

Toddler and Pre-School Years

During the toddler years, you can transition to a toddler-sized toothbrush and brush their teeth twice per day. Around age 2, your child is old enough to learn how to spit while brushing. It is at this point that you can introduce toothpaste, adding a small pea-sized amount to the brush when cleaning their teeth. As long as your child is not swallowing the toothpaste, it is fine to begin using a fluoride toothpaste as early as age 3. As well, once your child’s teeth begin to touch you should start to floss in between them. During this toddler stage, you as the parent should be the one to brush and floss your child’s teeth. A good system for brushing is to take turns. You brush their teeth thoroughly, have them spit, then give them a turn with the toothbrush to learn and get used to holding it on their own in preparation for the day that they will take over the habit themselves.

School Years

Once children reach the age of 6-7, you can begin assessing whether they possess the coordination to begin brushing and flossing their teeth on their own. Until this age, they will learn by your example of consistency and proper brushing and flossing on their behalf. As they take over their own brushing and flossing routine, you can also begin introducing a mouth rinse, taking care to ensure they are capable of rinsing and spitting, rather than swallowing the rinse. As they begin to brush and floss on their own, be sure to help them remember when to brush and floss each day and provide accountability in the process.


By this stage of development, if the proper hygiene routines have been instilled in them in earlier years, your child should be ready to maintain this habit fully on their own without parental involvement. Although you should help them see the dentist for hygiene visits twice per year and support them by ensuring they have the proper tools and supplies, the goal at this stage is independence in preparation for a lifetime of oral health.

Other Considerations

Fluoride Treatments/Dental Sealants: Ask our office about fluoride treatments and/or dental sealants for your child if you are concerned about cavities even with a solid dental care regimen. We are glad to discuss options with you that may be best for your child.

Types of Toothpaste: There are a plethora of toothpastes in a variety of flavors on the market. Feel free to choose which ones work best for your family. As long as it is ADA approved, if a particular flavor or brand makes brushing more exciting and appealing, this is the best choice for your child as it will aid in their enjoyment of the process. Helping to establish and maintain a proper brushing routine is a primary goal regardless of the type of toothpaste that is used. Make it fun!

Toothbrush Care: At every stage of their development, be sure to replace your child’s toothbrush every 3-4 months, and sooner if the bristles look worn. Be sure to use a soft to medium bristle to minimize damage to gums. If you want to deep clean toothbrushes in between replacement, soak them in hydrogen peroxide, rinsing thoroughly before returning for use.

A Guide to Water Flossing

Posted by on Oct 10, 2018 in Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Hygiene | Comments Off on A Guide to Water Flossing

The ADA maintains that in order to achieve good dental hygiene for the prevention of cavities and gum disease you should ensure you are brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing your teeth a minimum of once daily. For those who dislike flossing, you may be asking, does this mean that traditional flossing is the only viable option? You may be encouraged to learn that there are alternatives to traditional flossing that may be even more effective.

In recent years, water flossing has gained ground as a popular alternative to traditional flossing. This article will discuss how water flossing works and whether it can stand as a viable option for effective tooth cleaning for long term dental health.

What is Water Flossing?

Water flossing is a method of cleaning your teeth that involves a special machine that directs a stream of water through the crevices between teeth and under the gum line to remove plaque, bacteria, and debris that may collect there. The water pressure both massages the gums and pushes food particles out from between teeth. The water flosser reaches the same areas that traditional floss does, without the hassle and challenge of string floss.

If you have challenges or difficulty with traditional flossing (or simply dislike the process of traditional flossing), water flossing may be a great option for you. It is easy to use and can eliminate the challenges that flossing presents for patients with braces or other types of dental work such as bridges.

Are Water Flossers as Effective as Traditional String Floss?

The simple answer is yes, water flossers can work just as effectively, if not more effectively, than traditional floss! The Journal of Clinical Dentistry recently published a study that compared the effectiveness of water flossers vs. stringed floss, both used in combination with a twice daily tooth brushing regimen. The researchers learned that those who used a water flosser experienced a reduction of 74+% reduction in plaque as compared to the traditional flossers who experienced only a 57+% reduction in plaque. This certainly is encouraging if traditional flossing is a challenge for you!

As well, similar studies also revealed that those using water flossers rather than traditional floss experienced a greater reduction in gingivitis and gum bleeding due in part to the massaging action that occurs through the water flossing process.

While some dentists maintain that traditional flossing should not be completely eliminated from your oral hygiene routine, certainly the water flosser could have a place in your flossing routine!

How to Effectively Use a Water Flosser

If you choose to invest in a water flosser for your dental hygiene routine, it is important that you learn how to properly use it for maximum results. There are several different types of water flossers on the market, but all typically work in the same manner. Here are basic tips for proper operation to ramp up your hygiene routine:

-Fill the reservoir with water in preparation for use. Use clean, filtered water when possible.

-Plug in your water flosser or charge the battery according to directions so that it is ready for use.

-When choosing a pressure level, start with a low setting and once you are comfortable with the setting you can increase the pressure for deeper cleaning.

-Use your flosser while leaning your mouth over the sink or in the shower. When using, place the flosser tip into your mouth and press your lips closed around it to prevent mess.

-With the unit on, aim the tip at or just above the gum line in between each tooth. Administer water pressure, starting with the back of the mouth and working forward.

-Pause briefly intermittently to spit out excess water that accumulates during the flossing process.

-Once completed with the flossing process, rinse with mouthwash or water to rid your mouth of excess food particles that are released.

When used properly, a water flosser can be well worth the initial financial investment it takes to get started. Not only can you experience results that are as good, if not greater from water flossing, it can save you time in your daily oral hygiene regimen. If flossing is a challenge or particular hassle for you, consider investing in a water flosser to ensure you are taking the best care of your teeth as possible.

At the end of the day, it is not necessarily HOW you floss, but that you DO floss that makes the greatest difference.  River Valley Smile Center is your partner in long term oral health.