DC Smiles

Holiday Engagements-Don’t Forget About Your Smiles!

Planning your wedding? Many young women spend years of their lives dreaming of the day they will walk down the aisle. Just imagine it: all eyes on you, your hair and make-up perfect, wearing the dress of your dreams, as everyone “oohs” and “ahhs” watching you enter the room while they take a million pictures of your every angle to last forever in photo albums and Facebook feeds.

Yes, those photos will be around for a lifetime, so of course you want to make sure everything looks perfect. You’ve got the dress, you’ve the hairstyle…but what about your smile? If your teeth are not looking their best, they may steal the spotlight away from you…in a bad way.

Even if you haven’t included a smile makeover in your wedding to-do spreadsheet, don’t panic! No matter how much time you have until your big day, you can work some tooth polishing (pun intended) into your plans.

Got One Week? Get Whiter!

A super-fast and effective way to improve your smile immediately is with a professional whitening session at your dentist’s office. Although over-the-counter whitening strips will help if your teeth are not that stained, significant discoloration may require a professional appointment. You may even opt for take-home trays to lighten your teeth several shades in the comfort of your own house.

Got a Month? Fix those Chips!

If your teeth are misaligned, cracked, chipped or gapped and you want a Hollywood smile on the day of your nuptials, veneers might be a good investment.

Veneers, which are made of either resin composite or porcelain, are thin, custom-made shells that cover flawed teeth to change and improve their size, color or shape.  Although fixing crooked and gapped teeth with veneers takes a lot less time that say, braces, it doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to wait 2-4 weeks after being fitted with models by your dentist for the individually made veneers to be received back at the office.

Got a Year? Get Invisalign!

Many brides to be start planning extremely early – it’s not unusual to set a wedding date a year or more in advance. With months to plan, you’ll have plenty of time to fix your teeth permanently with these invisible aligners.

Invisalign requires a fitting and 10 – 25+ individually created trays that adhere to the teeth and gradually move them into a more aesthetically pleasing shape. The process can also fix overbites and other dental issues. It typically takes six month to a year or more to be completed – although the results can be delayed if the aligners are not worn long enough each day.

No matter how many days (or hours!) you have before your wedding, you still have enough time to improve your teeth.  Get a smile upgrade and make sure your wedding photos are the ones you want to last a lifetime.

Need a smile makeover? Give us a call! With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.

 

 

 

Concierge Dentistry – Only for the Rich and Famous?

Think about the word ‘concierge’ and you’re bound to imagine a visit to a swanky hotel, during which you might call upon the services of a polite and accommodating hotel employee to arrange restaurant reservations or give site-seeing advice on how to take advantage of where you are staying. And, the notion of having a personal concierge – someone at your beck and call to regularly help plan outings or activities – is something you would associate with being rich or elite.

What you might NOT think about is the notion of ‘concierge dentistry,’ and that’s possibly because you haven’t heard of it.  But, the concept of providing more personalized, ‘patient-first’ service is becoming a more popular approach for dentists looking to offer a holistic, whole-body methodology.

Corporate vs Concierge Dentistry

Most dental offices today are corporate models – owned and run by one or several dentists. These offices are profit-based and sometimes need to become obsessed with the bottom line, running the practice more like a business than a place of healing. This kind of environment can lead to over-worked staff, long appointment wait times, and services restricted or confined by available insurance plans.

Similar to the idea of a personalized service that caters to an individual, concierge dentistry differs by focusing on the needs of each patient, first and foremost. Services are not dictated by insurance plans or fees, which allows for a more comprehensive approach to dental care – going beyond the teeth, gums and mouth.

Is Concierge Worth it?

Many concierge dentists offer plans for discounted procedures. They may provide emergency dental services 24 hours, 7 days a week and even offer house calls. Imagine how much less anxious many dental patients would be if they could receive routine services in the comfort of their own homes!

Although most concierge dental practices are not considered in-network for insurance plans, many still do take insurance. Personalized financing options may mean that you actually pay LESS for the higher level of concierge service that caters to your immediate dental needs.

Ultimately, concierge dentistry is about putting the patient first. A concierge dentist is able to take the time to evaluate and analyze in order to provide the best treatment for that individual, regardless of insurance plans or costs.

Going to a concierge dentist is a little different than the service you get from a concierge at a hotel. But, you will benefit from the same level of personalized, tailored care and attention – from your teeth to your gums and beyond.

Interested in learning more about our concierge services? Talk to us! We provide a first class experience providing individualized care and attention.   With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at dcsmiles.com.

 

 

 

Does Your Breathing Affect Your Looks?

They say ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and when it comes to our physical features, there is never a one-size-fits-all definition of beauty. Our faces are usually reflections of the family characteristics passed down from our mothers and fathers – who assure us from an early age that we are beautiful, despite what we ourselves may think when we sometimes peer anxiously into our early morning bathroom mirrors.

Conventional standards of physical beauty aside, there are facial characteristics that are representative of a superior level of well-being and other traits that are indicative of poor health. And, believe it or not, those facial features can start evolving during childhood as a result of mouth breathing.

Can You Breathe the WRONG Way?

Breathing through one’s mouth as opposed to through a nose may seem like a minor issue. Breathing is breathing, right? As long as you are getting air in your lungs, what’s the difference?

In fact, there are many reasons why breathing through the nose is superior to mouth respiration. We were built to breathe through our noses and drawing in air that way increases circulation and blood oxygen, as well as improves lung volume. Conversely, mouth breathing bypasses critical phases of the breathing process, including the release of bacteria-fighting chemicals that reduce the risk of infection.

But, could mouth breathing also affect what you look like? The answer, incredibly, is yes.

Take a Deep Breath

When the mouth is left open to breathe for long periods of time, the muscles in the cheeks tighten and apply an external force to the upper and lower jaw that causes a narrowing effect on the face. Additionally, the tongue – which typically rests on the roof of a closed mouth is forced to drop down lower, creating a narrow upper dental arch and preventing the normal development of the mid-face.

Years of mouth breathing will lead to an overall narrowing of the face, crooked teeth and poor jaw development. A child who breathes this way can expect to have a lower chin and less prominent retracted lower jaw.

Why does mouth occur in the first place? Young children who suffer from chronic congestion – whether a result of allergies or other nasal issues – typically get used to breathing through their mouths.

What Mouth Breathing Looks Like

Snoring, chronic fatigue, dark under-eye circles and enlarged adenoids are all signs of mouth breathing in children. If you recognize these symptoms in your own child, consider a visit to a dentist trained in myofunctional therapy, which can help correct abnormal functions of the tongue and facial muscles in young children.

Children are beautiful to their parents, no matter what they look like. But we can all take steps to ensure the kids we raise are beautifully healthy inside and out.

Think your child suffers from chronic mouth breathing? We can help. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at dcsmiles.com.

 

 

 

Do You Need a Sleep Appliance?

In the day-to-day hubbub and stresses of life, we all have mornings that find us feeling less rested than we’d like to be. Even if you went to bed at a reasonable hour, job or family worries weighing on your mind can keep you from getting that kind of restful and restorative sleep we all need.

But, if you find that you are chronically tired, stumbling your way through days like a zombie and your spouse is continually complaining about the loud snoring you do each night – you may want to seek a doctor’s opinion on whether you suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Why are You Always Tired?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that occurs when breathing is disrupted during sleep.  The more common form – obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – is caused by the collapse of soft tissue at the back of the throat that results in a blockage of the airways, and can cause loud snoring.  If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may stop breathing repeatedly during the night – up to hundreds of times over the course of several hours – and as a result, your brain may not be receiving enough oxygen.

Overweight men over the age of 40 with a family history of sleep apnea or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) are more at risk for suffering from sleep apnea, but anyone – including children – can be affected. Untreated, the disorder can lead to high blood pressure, a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, diabetes, and depression. That’s on top of the daily exhaustion and negative effects on concentration and focus. People with sleep apnea never feel fully rested, because they never get a full night’s sleep.

If your doctor suspects you may have sleep apnea, you may be asked to undergo a sleep apnea test – also called a polysomnogram.  Many times, this test is done under the surveillance of a medical team in a sleep disorder center, where patients are monitored and recorded to determine the nature and severity of a sleep disorder.

Like any chronic condition, getting a diagnosis as soon as possible can improve your chances of successful treatment and lower the risk of developing further complications.

 

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

So, once you’ve been diagnosed, how will your sleep apnea be treated? If lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking or changing sleeping positions don’t help enough, you may be required to use a breathing machine known as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which regulates breathing by increasing air pressure. Unfortunately, it can be a large, loud apparatus with tubing and a mask that gets in the way of relaxing bedtime routines. Thankfully, this technology is evolving and smaller, quieter alternatives are becoming available.

If your sleep apnea is mild, you probably won’t need a CPAP machine and may get successful results with a dental appliance. These oral devices, which resemble sports mouth guards or retainers, work by pushing the lower jaw and lower tongue slightly forward which keeps breathing airways open during sleep. They are custom made and fitted by your dentist to conform precisely to your mouth and jaw.

Sleep apnea is more than just a nuisance – it’s a serious health issue that can affect nearly every facet of your well-being. If there’s a chance you may have it, get checked out right away. Your snoring, your mental focus and your overall health will greatly improve – and your suffering spouse will thank you!

Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea? Talk to us about dental appliances. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.

 

 

 

Chew Your Way to Better Health

 

How many times this past week did you glance at your watch, realize you were late for something, grab a snack or meal on the run and wolf it down while hurrying to your next appointment?

Although we can acknowledge that our society is too fast-paced and harried at times, the idea of eating on the run has been around for a while. Fast food, drive-throughs, and super-speed pizza delivery all support the practice of rushing through our meals – which unfortunately may be to the detriment of our health.

When was the last time you sat down and purposefully chewed your way through your food? For many of us, it’s a time luxury reserved for special dinners out or first dates. But, the exercise of chewing, also known as mastication, is a critical first step to the digestion process and taking it slow ensures you will start out – and finish – with better nutrition absorption, a healthier relationship with food and even a trimmer waistline!

Chew, Chew

Making a conscious effort to slowly chew your food more completely has significant benefits:

It helps digestion

You may not connect chewing to digestion, but it’s actually an important preliminary part of the process. As you chew, your secreted saliva coats the food with enzymes that start to digest it while it’s still in your mouth. Additionally, the smaller the particles of food that you swallow, the easier it is to digest them. Chewing your food until it’s almost liquefied (we know – that’s a lot of chewing!) ensures enzymes and stomach acid can properly dissolve all those particles.

It ensures nutrient absorption

Breaking down all those food particles is essential for distributing the proteins and nutrients they contain. Amino acids – which are what proteins are broken down into – promote repair and growth throughout the body and support healthy sleep, energy levels and brain activity.

It controls your weight

The longer you take to eat, the easier it is for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full before you wind up scarfing down half a chocolate cake at one sitting. Slow, purposeful chewing of your food allows you to taste it better, appreciate it more and truly stop when you’re satisfied.

It’s good for your teeth

When you chew your food into smaller particles, the bones and muscles around your teeth get a workout, which helps to keep them healthy and strong. Increased saliva also washes away bacteria which means less plaque build-up in your mouth.

So, how carefully should you chew your food? Try to take smaller bites to begin with, chew each mouthful until it’s lost all its texture and wait to drink fluids until after you’ve swallowed each bite. Chewing more slowly can remind you that food is meant to be savored and enjoyed – not eaten at full speed on the run

DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.

 

Your Mother Was Right: Good Posture is Important

Are you a sloucher?

 

In these times of intently staring down into laptops, mobile phones and electronic devices, many of us have become a generation of slouchers, slumpers and hunchers. And, although our mothers may all be waving their fingers in disappointment, we might roll our eyes and shrug it off with hunched shoulders. After all, what harm could we really be doing to ourselves anyway?

Turns out – quite a bit more than you might think. Poor posture can be responsible for many negative physical and even emotional effects on the body. Becoming more self-aware of how we sit, stand and move may help reduce pain, increase health and even improve our moods.

Slouch Much?

You may have started slouching as a somewhat sullen and angsty teenager, attempting to shrink yourself from the view of parents and teachers. Slouching feels a bit rebellious too – especially after a comment about posture from your mother.

You continued your slumping while studying through college and into a fairly sedentary lifestyle behind a computer – working long hours staring into a screen at a desk creates an opportunity to slouch that becomes increasingly tempting.

Now, you’re a full-time, bonafide sloucher. Other than giving you the physical appearance of a hunched back, what havoc is it wreaking on your body?

Hazards of Hunching

Headaches – As you slouch your head over a desk or table and lean into your computer by just two inches, you are adding 20 extra pounds of pressure on your spine. That forces your neck and back muscles to work harder to hold up the extra weight, which can lead to headaches and shoulder strain.

Jaw pain – A misaligned spine causes stress to your jaw joints and creates additional muscle pains in the back of your head.

Internal organ issues – When your spine is misaligned, it can affect your ribcage, damaging your lungs and heart and eventually causing gastrointestinal issues.

Stop the Slump

As bad as slouching is for your body, there’s good news. No matter your age, poor posture can be reversible – if you make it a priority.

Stay alert at your desk – Working over your computer for long periods of time – as many of us must do – puts you at the highest risk of succumbing to poor posture. Make sure your seat is properly aligned with your desk. Sit with both feet on the floor, with your knees and hips bent to 90 degrees. Roll your shoulders back and down, so you feel your shoulder blades move down your back.

Check your stance – When standing and walking, your ears, shouleers, hips and ankles should all be in a vertical line. Keep your feet hip-width apart with toes pointed forward. Your spine should be erect with your shoulders pulled back and down, and your chin raised. Check yourself out in a mirror to be sure you’re staying straight!

Yoga classes or similar kinds of exercise can help improve flexibility and muscle tone that lead to better posture. Correcting poor posture can help you breathe easier, improve circulation and digestion, make you look slimmer and younger and improve your level of confidence!

Learning to sit up straight is a worthwhile exercise that we know your mother will agree with!

With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.

Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?

Dental Implant i-CATDespite the advances in dental and oral health care in this country over the past century, many Americans lose their teeth because of tooth decay, illness or injury.  In fact, 178 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth and over 35 million people in this country do not have any natural teeth at all.

Losing teeth can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for many reasons. It can affect your speech, your oral health and your self-esteem. So, what are your options for missing teeth? Removable dentures and bridges can provide a long-term solution. But, they can be irritating, slip while speaking and change your diet as you may need to avoid certain kinds of foods.

Dental Implants: A Permanent Solution

Dental implants replace natural tooth roots and are a permanent solution to lost teeth. They consist of metal posts or frames that are surgically fused below the gum line directly onto your jawbone. Artificial crowns are then placed over the implants, creating a new set of permanent replacement teeth.

Committing to dental implants takes some patience. The procedure requires several steps that are performed over the span of months.

  1. First, the dentist surgically places the implant onto the patient’s jaw, while inserting screws to prevent debris and bacteria from entering the implant. Gum tissue must then be allowed to heal for 3-6 months.
  2. The second step requires multiple posts to be attached to the implant. Again, the gums must heal around each post.
  3. Eventually, the third step of attaching crowns to the posts creates a permanent new set of artificial teeth.

The Next Best Thing to Natural Teeth

Although the process may seem arduous, dental implants provide the longest-lasting and cost-effective solution to missing teeth. Dental bridges and dentures – even when taken care of – will eventually have to be replaced, but dental implants are the closest thing to natural teeth and can last a lifetime if properly cared for.

With dental implants, you won’t need to worry about your speech or diet being affected by loose or uncomfortable dentures. They allow you to retain your natural face shape, as missing teeth can cause sunken or hollow-looking pockets in your face. Dental implants protect your bones and any remaining natural teeth you may have by guarding your jawbone against further irritation and deterioration. In fact, implants may actually help stimulate bone growth.

There is also no worry about further tooth decay or cavities with dental implants – although continuing proper oral habits is essential to keeping implants healthy over the long term.

So, are you a candidate for dental implants? Definitely – as long as you have healthy gums and adequate bone and tissue to support the implant process. You’ll have to visit your dentist to confirm that.

Missing teeth can affect every facet of your life – from your eating habits, to speech, to how you feel when you look in the mirror. Dental implants, when placed correctly by a skilled dentist, can give you a new lease on life – and your smile.

Have more questions about whether dental implants are right for you? Let us give you some answers. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.

 

What is Oil Pulling and Should You Try It?

If you’re responsible about your oral health and strive to keep your teeth clean and bright, you
hopefully brush at least twice a day. You probably use floss daily and you might even use
mouthwash on a regular basis to keep your breath fresh and your pearly whites looking…well,
pearly white.
What you may NOT be doing is oil pulling – which is the practice of swishing oil around in your
mouth like Listerine for up to 20 minutes a day. At first read, it may sound ridiculous. How can
gargling grease in between your teeth help your oral health?
Although it may seem like the latest fad to work its way through trendy natural remedy blogs,
the concept has actually been around for a long, long time. It’s an oral therapy based on
Ayurvedic medicine dating back 3,000 years to ancient India. And, even more recent studies
point to the validity of the process of “pulling” microorganisms that cause bad breath, plaque
and gingivitis out of one’s mouth when the oily rinse adheres to them. Sort of like a powerful
magnet. All those evil bacterial cells are flushed away when you spit out the oil. The evidence
that this practice may be beneficial is there, but incorporating it into your oral health regime
definitely requires some do’s and don’ts.
Oil Pulling Do: Use the Right Oil
Make sure the oil you are using is food grade and ingestible. Although many oils contain
bacteria-fighting benefits, coconut oil includes lauric acid – which has superior anti-microbial
agents. Coconut oil has also been shown to reduce streptococcus bacteria when used
regularly in this way.
Oil Pulling Don’t: Oil Should Not Replace Brushing
Even if you start oil pulling and find that it’s helpful in whitening your teeth and reducing bad
breath, it should NOT replace your regular oral health habits of brushing and flossing. Oil
pulling has not been shown to reduce tooth decay and is a supplement to oral habits, not a
replacement of conventional practices.
Oil Pulling Do: Make Sure You Spit It Out!
The whole point of oil pulling is to draw out toxins and bacteria from all the tiny crevices in
between your teeth and get rid of them by spitting them out of your mouth. By swallowing
them, you’re actually ingesting all those toxins you just took so long to pull out! Don’t forget to
spit! And, if you plan to oil pull regularly, you may want to spit everything out in a bowl or trash
can rather than the sink, as oil build up can eventually clog your pipes.
Many believers claim oil pulling can cure everything from skin issues to headaches to hormone
changes. Although it’s probably not the cure-all be-all many think it might be, according to
most dentists, it’s a unique and valuable addition to your regular oral health practices. Give it a
swish!
Have more questions about oil pulling and other trending dental practices? Let us give you
some answers. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a
holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more
at DCSmiles.com.

Why Do We Separate Health Care and Dental Care?

You rely on your medical insurance to treat anything that might go awry with your body – from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet. 

Well, everything except what’s inside your mouth, that is.

For millions of Americans, dental care is covered by a completely separate plan or considered an additional and “optional” side dish to your main entrée medical insurance. Dental coverage is not a required benefit for adults under Obamacare or most Medicaid plans. Meanwhile, many typical dental plans don’t cover even regular cleanings at 100%, while cavities and other problems are costly, with or without insurance.

Dental Care as a Luxury

Sadly, a third U.S. residents don’t get regular dental check-ups every year, and one quarter of those surveyed in a recent survey by the Federal Reserve reported they had skipped seeing a dentist due to the expense. Treating dental care as a luxury rather than a basic right creates a socio-economic population of people who suffer common tooth problems that lead to advanced and dangerous complications.

How did the mouth become the black hole of medical insurance? Why do we treat the dentistry industry as a different profession? And is there a disconnect between what goes on in our mouth and what happens throughout the rest of our body?

Haircuts….and Surgery?

Historically, the separation of dentistry and medicine can be traced back to the practices of surgery and less invasive methods of healing. Physicians did not perform surgery, which was seen as a mechanical skill and not as part of the ancient medical arts.

Instead, American barber surgeons – who already had the right tools – performed surgery and extracted teeth, which was a tradition brought over from Europe. Instead of offering their services in hospitals, barber surgeons set up commercial establishments, inviting in surgical and tooth extraction customers with the red and white striped pole – still associated with barbers today.

In 1840, the first dental college was opened in Baltimore, MD, elevating the industry to a trained profession worthy of intense study and licensing. But, that was only after two self-trained dentists appealed to physicians at the college of medicine at the University of Baltimore to add dentistry to the courses of study. When the physicians at the time refused to do so, the separate college was opened and dentistry and medicine continued to remain separate professions.

Dentistry was still a growing field in the 1960’s when Congress put together the first public health insurance programs. The dental market was not valued as highly as other forms of medical care at the time. In fact, in 1960, only 2.3 percent of Americans retained any form of dental insurance.

Dental and medical fields have continued to grow separately from one another, culminating in a landscape of professional independence and autonomy. Yet, a lack of communication and continuity in care between our oral health and the care of other bodily systems can sometimes have disastrous results.

More than 800,000 visits to the ER each year are complications resulting from preventable dental issues, costing the public systems billions of dollars. Yet, without dentists working in the emergency room, most of those problems remained untreated.

Dental and medical records are also kept separate, even though many illnesses may include symptoms from various parts of the body that should be compared and studies. Infected teeth can spread bacteria across other systems leading to severe consequences up to and including death.

Yet, an integrated approach to dental and medical care is slowly gaining ground. The Affordable Care Act requires providers to offer dental coverage for children. Some universities are building dentistry courses into their nursing, pharmacy and physician assistant programs.

Hopefully this trend continues into the future, acknowledging the importance of a cohesive and comprehensive perspective on oral and overall health.

Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.

 

 

 

High Anxiety in the Dentist’s Chair: Is it All in Your Head?

Throw a rock into a crowd and you’re likely to hit someone who doesn’t enjoy going to the dentist. It’s one of those appointments we love to complain about, even though we appreciate how critical it is to our overall health to get regular check-ups of our teeth and gums.

You may not LIKE going to the dentist, but 5% to 8% of Americans avoid going to the dentist entirely due to actual fear. And up to 20% of potential dental patients only go if they consider it absolutely necessary – like when they are experiencing tooth pain or other mouth issues.

Where does that level of fear come from?  For many, it may stem from a scarring experience as a young child – perhaps an unfortunate accident or lack of proper levels of anesthesia during a procedure. One bad occurrence can set a would-be patient on a path of avoidance for the rest of his or her life.

For others, there’s no one incident to point to, but rather a general fear of sitting in the dentist’s chair. Studies point to fear of pain, fear of embarrassment and fear of loss of control as the top reasons patients prefer to take their chances outside the dental office.  Although pain can be a reality during certain procedures, developing a healthy mindset about visiting the dentist starts well before one steps through the office door.  If you or someone you know suffers from a fear of going to the dentist so intense it prevents them from getting regular oral care, try some of these tips for dealing with dental anxiety.

Tip 1: Don’t keep it to yourself

If you thought you were the only one with a major fear of the dentist before you started reading this blog post, you should know by this point that you’re not alone. It’s an extremely common issue – and one that every dentist is aware of.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your dentist about your anxiety. It’s nothing they haven’t heard before, and they might have ways to allay your concerns. Your dentist may have some ideas that have worked for other patients to calm them down. Together you can work on a strategy to create a more relaxing visit – whether that means music playing in the background or a step-by-step description of what’s happening inside your mouth.

Tip 2: Take your time

You might think that rushing through your dental appointment in order to get it done as quickly as possible would be a good idea, but in fact, you might need some extra time to get through it.

Talk to your dentist about going slow. Have a pre-agreed upon signal to use to communicate to your dentist that you need a break. You might want to hold something tightly in your hand, like a stress ball or a worry stone to re-focus your physical attention.

Tip 3: If all else fails, look into medication

Similar to taking something before flying if you have a phobia, fear of dental appointments might require a prescription for a mild sedative. Talking to your dentist or a psychiatrist will give you a better idea if that may be an option for you.

Depending on the procedure, anesthesia might be available, if you can’t even handle being conscious during your visit. But, such measures are really only appropriate for someone with a true phobia.

If your fear of dentists has prevented you from getting regular check-ups, remember how important maintaining your oral health is. Neglecting your teeth and gums can lead to serious conditions, including dental pain, tooth loss and gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It’s worth facing your fears to start back on the road to healthy teeth.

Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.