Dental care without the anxiety
August 2, 2003
Steamboat Springs — Dentists in the Yampa Valley offer a wide variety of aesthetic dental options or aesthetic dental reconstruction for patients interested in having the “perfect smile.”
No single option may be as widely known or looked into as teeth whitening or bleaching. Major toothpaste and toothbrush brands extensively advertise about the effectiveness of their products, and Bill Schwartz, dentist at Pine Grove Dental, said while over-the-counter products are safe, it is always better to involve a professional.
“Teeth can be over bleached,” Schwartz said. “There is an endpoint to what they can expect for whiteness. If you do it too much, teeth will appear glassy and the darkness from the back of the mouth will come through. After you pass the endpoint it looks unnatural and has the opposite effect of what you want.”
Schwartz said aesthetic dentistry became more of a fad in the 1990s, but these services have been available for a number of years.
Another popular dental option, which is becoming more the norm than the trend, is tooth- colored fillings, replacing the previously used silver fillings containing mercury.
Though Scott Eivins, dentist at the Dental Center of Steamboat Springs, said no conclusive studies have been done proving the danger of mercury fillings, he doesn’t use silver fillings and hasn’t for 12 years because of, among other things, the more aesthetically pleasing look of neutral colored fillings.
Perhaps the biggest advancement in dentistry during the last 10 years, Schwartz said, is the advent of adhesive dentistry. Once dentists had to cut part of the tooth off to do surface work. Now, dentists have the advantage of bonding things to teeth as opposed to simply cementing things on.
Dentists are required to participate in continuing education programs to maintain their licenses, so classes and lectures on improvements in equipment, procedures, etc. are available to all dentists regardless of community size.
But one aspect of dentistry that hasn’t changed is the feeling of anxiety that both adults and children sometimes experience when arriving at the dentist’s office. It is a trip, however, that can’t be avoided.
Schwartz said the addition of fluoride in water, among other things, has helped in the upkeep of teeth, but for every advertisement promoting proper dental hygiene, there is another for candy or Mountain Dew.
Soda, Schwartz said, is one of the biggest culprits in tooth decay. It is important to develop proper dental hygiene habits when a person is younger with the idea that the child will continue them through their adulthood.
“Obviously you can work with the child and make sure they are cleaning their teeth and spending time doing it,” Eivins said. “I think another thing is to watch what snacks children have.
“When you have a sugar snack or a potato chip it makes the mouth more acidic and bacteria love that environment. It’s not that you can’t have candy, but make sure you follow it by brushing or with a good snack like cheese to change the oral environment.”
Eivins said a family friend served as his dentist when he was a child, making every trip to the dentist a positive experience.
He didn’t have many cavities, but having a cavity that needs to be fixed doesn’t need to be a negative experience for a child.
Many dentists in Steamboat Springs have taken measures to ensure that children — and adults — don’t run when faced with the dentist’s chair.
“I love to work on children,” Eivins said.
The Dental Center of Steamboat Springs uses a Biolase hard-tissue laser whenever possible on children and occasionally on adults to help remove decay without pulling out a needle.
“I think it will be one of the armaments in dentistry,” Eivins said. “It enables us to eliminate the drill sound and the needle. It’s one of those things I find useful on a daily basis but it doesn’t replace everything.”
In the Pine Grove Dental office patients can take pre-prescribed medication to calm their nerves or listen to music through headphones to help relax even more.
In the Yampa Valley, people will be able to fill nearly all their dentistry needs from basic teeth cleaning to orthodontics to oral and maxillofacial surgery.