Metal Braces or Invisalign?

If you are considering orthodontics for either yourself or your teenager, you may be wondering which is the better option—traditional metal braces or Invisalign®? The answer is simple—it depends. Both options have pros and cons to them and it truly comes down to how complex your orthodontic needs are and what is important to you.

Invisalign® has become a household name with over 3 million people using the product worldwide. With its nearly invisible, clear aligners that are removable to eat and drink, it is the preferred method for adults and teens alike who don’t want to make it obvious that they are straightening their teeth. It is ideal for patients who don’t have complex treatment issues and for those who are willing to wear the aligners for the recommended 22 hours per day. Patients also love that they can brush and floss their teeth normally and don’t have to refrain from eating hard or sticky foods.

Now if you suspect that you or your child may have a hard time wearing the aligners for 22 hours a day, traditional metal braces may be the better alternative. Because they are fixed to your teeth, you don’t have a choice whether or not to wear them so compliance won’t be an issue. Metal braces also give orthodontists more options in regard to complicated tooth movement and more complex cases.  The downside to metal braces can be tooth discoloration from the brackets, food restrictions and difficulty brushing and flossing.

In terms of cost, Invisalign can be as affordable as traditional braces and many insurance policies include some orthodontic coverage. Financing companies, such as Care Credit, also offer Invisalign® patients 24 months no-interest financing to those who qualify.

If your preference is Invisalign®, the first step is to ask your dentist if you are a candidate. At Willow Creek Dental, we take an Itero digital impression scan to develop a computerized image of how the teeth would move. This helps the doctor and patient determine if Invisalign can give them the results they are looking for. If the dentist feels your case is too complex for Invisalign®, they will refer you to an Orthodontist for a consultation. 

If you are considering orthodontics and are interested in Invisalign®, give us a call at 303-779-2797 to set up a free consultation.

Source: Blog

Enter to Win Free Zoom! Teeth Whitening

Willow Creek Dental Zoom Whitening Facebook ContestHow would you like to get free professional teeth whitening? If you enter our Facebook contest now through April 30th, you could be the lucky winner of a Zoom! professional teeth whitening ($550 value)! Just go to our Facebook page and click on the “Contest” link to enter.

No purchase necessary. Open to new and existing Willow Creek Dental patients who are 18 years of age or older. Good Luck!

Source: Blog

How to deal with Dental Anxiety

If you suffer from dental anxiety or dental phobia, you are not alone. In fact, it has been estimated that 9% to 15% of Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear (approximately 30 to 40 million people).

Dental AnxietyIf you associate with having dental anxiety, you may get uneasy prior to your appointment. You may have trouble sleeping or feel more nervous as the appointment approaches. If you suffer from actual dental phobia, you may literally fear the dentist and feel physically ill. Many people who have dental anxiety or phobia avoid the dentist altogether and as a result are often living with gum disease or constant pain from decayed or broken teeth.

Dental anxiety or phobia can be caused by different things. Often we hear patients describe a past terrifying, painful experience when they were a child or young adult—something they wish to avoid again at all costs. Even though technology has advanced tremendously to help reduce or eliminate pain at dental visits, it is difficult for people suffering from dental anxiety or phobia to rationalize this due to their past experience. Others may feel extremely embarrassed about the condition of their teeth and have anxiety about having someone examine them closely.

Instead of avoiding the dentist, there are things you can do to help with your dental anxiety or phobia. First, inform the dental office that you have dental anxiety and fill out this “Handle Me with Care” form to let the staff know what specific things bother you or what is most concerning to you. With this information, there are things they can do to help you feel more comfortable such as using a room that is more private, offering headphones for you to listen to music to help keep you calm, or giving more anesthetic if you have a lower pain threshold. In some instances, the doctor may prescribe medication prior to your visit to reduce your anxiety.

If you have been putting off going to the dentist, take the first step and make a dental appointment today. Let the staff know you have anxiety and they will do everything they can to help you feel at ease.

Source: Blog

Using Technology to treat our TMJ Disorder Patients

Dr. Mary Blakeley has become passionate about helping patients with Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)—also referred to as TMJ Disorder. In addition to undergoing extensive post-graduate training in neuromuscular dentistry and specifically the treatment of TMD, Dr. Blakeley has invested in the latest technology to aide in effectively treating her patients.

While headaches or migraines are the most common symptom of TMD, other signs and symptoms can include jaw joint pain or noise, limited opening, ringing in the ears and locking in the jaw. Patients who suffer from TMD are often faced with daily, chronic pain and other options for treatment often include prescription pain medication or surgery.

In her extensive study of neuromuscular dentistry, Dr. Blakeley has focused on the correlation between the patient’s occlusion (i.e. how their bite comes together) and TMD symptoms. Physiologically, if a person’s bite doesn’t come together in the most ideal way, either from the result of genetics or an accident, it can put additional stress on the TM Joint and produce painful symptoms. While not every patient who suffers from TMD has a “bad bite”, there are many people who may find relief by fixing their occlusion. TMD often means there is a discrepancy between where your teeth come together and where your muscles want to be therefore Dr. Blakeley works to find the position where the teeth, joint and muscles are in harmony. By adjusting teeth so they meet in the ideal position, whether through an orthotic, orthodontics or dental restorations, the stress on the TM Joint could lessen and reduce or eliminate painful symptoms.

To determine if the patient’s TMD symptoms are possibly the result of a “bad bite”, Dr. Blakeley must first determine what the patient’s ideal occlusion is. To do so, she uses a K7 Computerized Mandibular Scanner (CMS) and Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulus (TENS) to measure and record objective information about the patient’s TM joint.

The K7 CMS uses 3 non-intrusive technologies to gather and measure data—jaw tracking (tracks motion), surface electromyography (measures TM joint muscle activity) and joint sonography (assesses joint function through the use of vibration/sound).

TENSing provides a tiny electrical stimulus that travels through nerves that control the muscles of the head and neck. This causes the muscles to exercise mildly, forcing out accumulated waste products of metabolism and providing the muscles with fresh nutrients and oxygen. Any persistent muscle tension that may be present can then be relaxed to find an optimum bite position.

In addition to the use of the K7 and TENS, Dr. Blakeley also has her patients undergo a 3-dimensional x-ray called cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). The CBCT scan provides high-resolution images to allow examination of the TM Joint anatomy, specifically the bone and joint space. The CBCT scan is done at Willow Creek Dental and only takes a few minutes to complete.

After the patient’s information has been gathered, measured and assessed, Dr. Blakeley is then able to recommend a course of treatment. The same technology is then used throughout the patient’s treatment to evaluate progress and determine its effectiveness.

If you or someone you know is suffering from TMD symptoms and would like to find out if you are a candidate for our TMJ Therapy program, contact our office at 303-779-2797 to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Blakeley.

Source: Blog

Additional services recommended at your routine dental cleaning

As a dental office that offers comprehensive care, we will often recommend additional services for our adult patients at routine dental cleanings. These services typically include the application of fluoride and laser bacterial reduction.

Often thought of as only necessary for children (and still considered this way in most dental insurance plans), adult fluoride treatments have been shown to help protect teeth from the demineralization process that occurs when acids from plaque and sugars in the mouth attack the tooth enamel. It also helps with the remineralization process of restoring minerals to strengthen the tooth enamel. In addition to strengthening developing teeth in children, fluoride is just as important in fighting tooth decay as you age, especially for adults who have dry mouth, gum disease, a history of frequent cavities or the presence of dental work (crowns, bridges, or braces). The application of fluoride only takes a couple minutes and is an out-of-pocket cost that generally ranges from $20 – $30 depending on the contracted rate with your insurance company.

Similarly, we believe in using technology to improve our patients’ health. Laser bacterial reduction (LBR) is the process of using a diode laser to safely and comfortably decontaminate the gum tissue and pockets around the teeth prior to the dental cleaning. The laser emits concentrated light energy, which vaporizes unhealthy bacteria. During the professional cleaning process, and during normal brushing and flossing, most patients will have some areas that may bleed. This allows bacteria that is present in all of our mouths to flood into the bloodstream and sometimes settle in weakened areas of our body. Research shows that these bacteria that cause periodontal disease have now been linked to a growing number of other diseases. Using the laser prior to your cleaning allows us to remove the bacteria and reduce the bacterial flow into your bloodstream. Additionally, infections in one area of your mouth can be transmitted to other areas. LBR minimizes the chance that we may inadvertently pick up the bacterial infection in one area of your mouth and move it to others. Lastly, LBR is used to kill periodontal disease bacteria and stop their infections before they cause physical destruction or loss of attachment around your teeth. The LBR process is painless, only takes a few minutes and has an out-of-pocket cost of $30.

While fluoride and LBR may be recommended, our patients always have the option to decline these services. We will always recommend and explain what we feel will improve each patient’s oral health however it is ultimately up to the patient to decide what services they would like to have done.

If you have a question about the recommendation of fluoride or the use of laser bacterial reduction in our cleanings, contact us at 303-779-2797 to speak with one of our dental hygienists.

Source: Blog