• Dr. Walter Hunt: Practicing the Golden Rule of Dentistry Since 1977

    Most people are familiar with the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And most of Personal Care Dentistry’s patients know that the Golden Rule guides the dentists and staff at the clinic when they are assisting or treating patients. But when did Dr. Walter Hunt, DDS, the founder of the practice, start implementing the Golden Rule as a driving force at Personal Care Dentistry?

    From the first day he opened his practice in 1977 on Hamline Avenue, Dr. Hunt emphasized the Golden Rule of Dentistry.  According to Dr. Hunt, “Our practice has always taken the time to really listen to our patients and provide close, personal attention to best customize their care. I know the kind of care that I demand as a patient, and that is the kind of care that I strive to provide. I call it ‘Golden Rule Dentistry.’ It is a philosophy shared by all of our staff members.”

    But you have to go back even further than 1977 to learn about how and why he developed his approach to dentistry that focuses on compassionate care.  Dr. Hunt grew up in northwestern Indiana in a small town named Merrillville. By the time he was in high school, he had become an accomplished athlete in both football and baseball. It was then that he also reached a defining moment in his life, one that has influenced his approach to life and dentistry.

    “My family didn’t have much money. We lived in a poor neighborhood in Merrillville so I had a lot of friends who were also poor. But because I was a good athlete, I also had a group of friends who came from families with money. And I didn’t like the way the kids with money would treat the poor kids. It was then that I vowed that I would always treat everyone equally with the same amount of caring and respect,” emphasizes Dr. Hunt. “The worth of a person should not be defined by what they have or how they look.”

    For Dr. Hunt, being a dentist and the founder of Personal Care Dentistry is not a job. It is a passion. He has had the same goal for almost half a century — treat people with dignity and respect, and as a dentist, provide them with the best care possible.

    “This is my passion, and this is how I can contribute to helping other people have better lives,” he says. “Even today, I still feel like I get more out of caring for others than they do. I love being here at Personal Care Dentistry,” concludes Dr. Hunt.

  • How to Overcome Dental Anxiety

    If you feel anxious or afraid at the mere thought of  going to the dentist, you should know that you’re not alone. More than 33% of Americans feel the same emotions about dentists. Often, people who suffer from dental anxiety or fear never go to the dentist, and then are faced with a lifetime of poor oral health, pain, and potential adverse effects to their overall health.

    Interestingly, patients who are anxious or fearful of a dental visit often find that an actual dental procedure isn’t nearly as “scary” as they expected. Patient surveys done prior to and after some of the most fear-inducing dental procedures (i.e. root canals or wisdom tooth removal) found that patients’ expectation of discomfort was not matched by the actual discomfort they experienced.

    Common Reasons for Dental Anxiety – And Tips to Overcome Them

    Not knowing what will happen: The unknown is often at the root of many of our fears, so sitting down with your dentist to discuss your situation and what dental procedures would be used to help you can be critical in reducing your anxiety level. Also, to make you feel more comfortable, bring along a friend for your dental visit. Your familiarity with them will help overcome the unfamiliarity of a dental office.

    Physically feeling uneasy: Simple techniques like controlled breathing can help reduce the physical manifestations of fear and anxiety. For controlled breathing, take a big breath, then hold it, and finally let it out slowly (pretend you are a leaky tire). A second technique you can try is progressive muscle relaxation – tense and relax muscle groups one after another.

    Dental equipment: Not understanding what those often odd-looking tools are used for during your dental visit can create lots of anxiety. Ask your dentist if you can hold the tools and examine them so you don’t feel like alien objects are going to probe around in your mouth.

    Gag reflex: Dental X-rays are often difficult to cope with if you are anxious about your dental visit because of the tabs that are put in your mouth. Luckily, most dentists now use digital X-rays, which don’t need tabs.

    Loud noises: The sound of a dental drill or other dental instrument often generates anxiety or fear in patients. Ask your dentist for earplugs or headphones that will eliminate sounds during your visit.

    Lying back in a dental chair: For some patients, lying back in a dental chair creates anxiety because of the loss of control. For other patients, they may have back issues. Ask for your dental chair to be only put halfway back. Or also ask for pillows to reduce aches and pains in your back when the chair is lowered.

    Breathing through your mouth: If you tend to breathe through your mouth, then you probably feel like your breathing is impaired when you are in a dental chair. After all, the dental care team will need to be working in your mouth during the visit, which can make it tough to breathe. You might try a nasal strip to open up the air passages in your nose. Or ask for nitrous oxide, which will help you relax and will make breathing easier while you are in the dental chair.

    Sources: WebMD, Huffington Post ffffffff

  • Six Reasons Why Dental Implants Might Be the Best Option

    Missing teeth can have a huge impact on a person’s health and confidence. Often, those missing teeth make it difficult to chew, which affects your diet. Facial features can change if there is bone loss in conjunction with the missing teeth. And for many people with missing teeth, their confidence takes a hit because they are so self-confident about how they look and how they eat.

    Historically, dental bridges and dentures have been the primary solution to helping people with missing teeth. But the development of dental implants has provided patients with a new choice that can be a “game-changer” for a patient’s life.

    Here are six reasons why a dental implant might be the right choice for you if you are missing teeth.

    Prevents Bone Loss

    If you replace a lost tooth with a dental implant, it will prevent the bone from starting to reabsorb because it replaces the root. If you don’t take this approach, you may eventually require a bone graft because of the bone reabsorption process. You will need to make sure that too much time doesn’t pass between when you lose your tooth and begin the dental implant process.

    Enhances Your Quality of Life

    Implants look and feel like your own teeth, so your quality of life is bound to be improved. Dental bridges and dentures can be difficult to take care of and wear, and dental crowns can feel and look like they aren’t natural.

    Eating Is Easier – Which Helps You Be Healthier

    With dental bridges, dentures and crowns, eating can be a hassle. You may have problems with certain types of foods (crunchy or sticky foods can be difficult) adversely impacting the crown, denture or bridge. If you have a dental implant, you won’t have to worry about a bridge or denture slipping or a crown coming off.  Crunchy vegies, chewy steak, sticky caramel rolls – none of them will present a problem chewing if you have implants. And since you will be able to thoroughly chew your food with implants, your digestion will improve and so will your health.

    Stop Worrying

    Your dental implant won’t slip or move when you chew food, laugh, cough or sneeze. They are permanently attached to your jawbone and are as sturdy as natural teeth that are healthy.

    Naturally Restores Your Mouth

    An implant is the best dental approach to replicating the original tooth that you lost. It matches the structure of the original tooth as close as possible and is the sturdiest and most natural looking option available.

    Food Can Have Flavor

    For folks who wear an upper denture, the full flavor of any food they eat is seriously reduced. With a dental implant, you won’t have that problem. You’ll be able to enjoy the full flavor of whatever food you are eating.

    If you would like more information about the advantages of dental implants, the procedure to put them into your mouth, and their cost, meet with a dentist at Personal Care Dentistry for a complimentary consultation.

    Source: Worldental.org, American Dental Plan

  • Whatever You Call A Soft Drink, It’s Bad For Your Teeth

    The soft drink has many names in the United States. On the East and West coasts, they call it soda. In the Midwest, many people refer to it as pop. And in the South, it’s often called Coke (even if it’s Pepsi). But no matter what you call a soft drink’s sugary concoction, it’s a recipe for disaster for your oral health.

    Why? Because a soft drink is full of acids and sugar byproducts that are acidic. The combination softens your tooth enamel, which is the first step on the road to a cavity. While sugar-free soft drinks are slights less impactful on your oral health, they are still acidic and can negatively affect your teeth.

    Soft drink consumption in the United States has been declining for many years, but Americans still consume an average of 400 12-ounce servings per person per year. That’s 3,200 teaspoons of sugar ingested annually! Long-term consumption of soft drinks over many years increases the odds that you’ll suffer tooth decay problems at some point.

    That consumption of all that sugar and the acid in soft drinks is especially damaging to the oral health of children and teenagers, whose teeth are still in the formative stages.

    So what should you do to reduce the impact on your oral health and protect your children’s developing teeth? Here are some ideas to implement in your household:

    Try different drinks: Skip the soft drinks and fill your fridge with beverages low in sugar and acid. These include water, milk and pure fruit juice. Unsugared ice tea is another good option to avoid sugar.

    Rinse, rinse, rinse: Be sure to reach for a glass of water if you do consume a soft drink. It’s a great way to flush all the sugar and acids deposited in your mouth by the soft drink you just drank.

    Grab the fluoride: Fluoride strengthens the enamel on your teeth and lowers the risk of cavities. So be sure to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and for an extra dose of fluoride, rinse with a mouthwash that contains fluoride.

    Get professional help: Be sure to visit your dentist twice a year for a dental hygiene visit to get all the gunk off your teeth that built up over the last six months. You can also request a fluoride treatment during your visit.

    While soft drinks are tough on your teeth, you can reduce their impact on your oral health by following our four tips.

    SOURCE: Colgate

  • Why Are All Mouth Guards Not Created Equal?

    Using a custom-fitted mouth guard in contact sports can both protect your teeth and enhance your sports performance.

    Mouth guards are designed to reduce the risk of a blow to the face injuring – or breaking – your teeth or hurting your tongue, lips, face and jaw. They generally cover the teeth in your upper jaw and are especially important for the oral health of any athlete involved in a contact sport – football, lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, rugby, and boxing. Mouth guards can also prevent injury in sports that don’t feature constant contact, like baseball or basketball.

    While wearing any type of mouth guard is better than not wearing a mouth guard at all, certain types of mouth guards provide superior protection and have less impact on an athlete’s speech, breathing, and comfort while wearing the mouth guard.

    Did you know that athletes who don’t use a mouth guard are nearly 60 times more likely to suffer an injury to their mouth? And did you know that the mouth guard you choose can have a huge impact on how well your son’s or daughter’s teeth are protected from a blow to the face? Losing a permanent tooth can create a lifetime of problems for a young athlete, including impacting their smile, speech, eating and self-image.

    So what are the three main types of mouth guards?

    Stock: These mouth guards are relatively cheap and you purchase them already formed and ready to wear. However, they are usually bulky and ill-fitting and negatively impact breathing and talking. Those issues usually reduce an athlete’s performance.

    Boil and bite: You can purchase this type of mouth guard at most sporting goods stores and often at drug stores or big box stores like Walmart or Target. You soften them initially in boiling water, then insert them into your mouth so that the softened mouth guard can shape itself to your mouth.

    Custom-fitted: These are the best type of mouth guards because they are one-of-a-kind and made just for you. Your dentist will personally fit these to your mouth – it takes just 30 minutes for the fitting –  and the custom manufacturing takes less than a week.

    Among the benefits of a custom-fitted mouth guard from your dentist are:

    • Comfortable fit
    • Clear speech
    • Enhanced breathing
    • Better protection
    • Ease of drinking
    • Customizable colors
    • Different thicknesses

    Give your dentist at Personal Care Dentistry a call about making an appointment for a custom-fitted mouth guard. Your son or daughter involved in sports will thank you for protecting their mouth for a lifetime!

    SOURCE: American Dental Association

  • All About Root Canals

    You might think of a root canal as being especially painful, but the truth is that most people who have one reported much less pain than they expected. In fact, many compare it to getting a crown or filling. Most importantly, the benefits to your oral health from a root canal can be huge.

    So what is a root canal? It is a procedure designed to save a tooth that is infected or badly damaged. The actual term “root canal” refers to the canals inside the tooth’s root.

    If your dentist suspects that you may need a root canal, they will initially take an X-ray or review X-rays previously taken to see where the decay is located. After administering a local anesthesia, the dentist removes the area of the tooth that is damaged, called the pulp, and then cleans and disinfects the area before filling it and sealing the opening. Most often, the root canal is needed because the pulp has been impacted by a cracked tooth, an especially deep cavity, or trauma. If you have severe anxiety about getting a root canal, your dentist can provide you with a sedative prior to the dental procedure.

    What Are the Advantages of a Root Canal?

    Inflammation Relief: When the nerve inside of the tooth become inflamed, it can often ache when you consume cold or hot liquids or when you bite. Usually, the only way to stop the inflammation (and the pain) is to remove the pulp through a root canal.

    Infection Control: The pulp in your teeth usually can’t recover from an infection because of its limited blood flow. Bacteria are able to get into the tooth and fester, causing infection, inflammation and pain. Even if you are able to successfully treat the bacteria with antibiotics, the pulp is often partially destroyed. This means you may still feel pain in that area.

    Decay Deterrent: Tissue in your mouth will gradually decay if the damage to the pulp is not dealt with by your dentist. This can spread to the gum and bone tissue and eventually impact other teeth. In addition, the dead tissue can become a bacterial breeding ground. A root canal will prevent additional damage to your mouth.

    Prevention: If you have teeth that are at severe risk for additional pulp complications, your dentist may recommend a root canal to prevent serious problems from occurring in the future. This preventative approach can prevent what are called asymptomatic abscesses from forming. These lack pain, so you don’t notice them, but they can lead to additional problems with your other teeth and impact your overall oral health. The reason these don’t create pain is because the infection site is draining through a fistula, which is a tissue tunnel that prevents pressure from increasing in the tissue in the affected tooth – which would then cause you pain, which you would notice.

    By deciding on a root canal, you can usually save the affected tooth from having to be completely removed. Remember, the dentist doesn’t remove your tooth or its roots. Rather, the canals around the root are cleaned of any infection, and pulp and nerve tissue are removed. This rids the area of all the bacteria, which is where the infection came from in the first place. 

    Root canals are 95% successful and almost always are able to save the affected teeth. Because a crown or filling is added once the root canal is completed, it is impossible to tell that you had a root canal.

    Sources: Worldental.org, Colgate, WebMD

  • How Helpful Is Mouthwash to Your Oral Health?

    If you walk by the oral health care aisle in any major store, you’ll see rows of toothpaste and toothbrushes plus an overwhelming array of mouthwashes. You have most likely heard about the important of using that toothpaste and toothbrush to brush daily, but do those bottles of mouthwash really have a positive impact on your oral health or is a just a waste of money?

    Four True Mouthwash Benefits

    Reduce Cavities. If you rinse with a mouthwash containing fluoride you can both reduce your risk of cavities and reduce demineralization of your teeth.\

    Battle Gum Disease. Your tooth sockets and gums can get inflamed or infected from plaque that is created by bacteria and food that sticks to your teeth. This is called gingivitis, which is a stage of periodontal disease. If you use an antibacterial mouthwash (one that contains alcohol or chlorhexidine), it will zap some of that bacteria in your mouth and may help prevent periodontal disease. But there are problems with this type of therapeutic mouthwash.

    Help Heal a Canker Sore. If you have a canker sore, using mouthwash can help detox the area and reduce the bacteria that are irritating the area of the sore.

    Safeguard Your Pregnancy. One of the risk factors for pregnant women is periodontal disease, which can lead to preterm, low-weight babies. The bacteria from a gum infection can enter the bloodstream of a pregnant woman and boost inflammatory markers, which can then stimulate contractions. Plus a recent national study found that pregnant women who used mouthwash throughout their pregnancy were less likely to go into early labor.

    Five Mouthwash Myths

    All Mouthwashes Are Made Equal. Cosmetic mouthwashes don’t do much more than loosen bits of food from your teeth, temporarily reduce bad breath, and leave a refreshing taste in your mouth. Therapeutic mouthwashes are more effective but have side effects (see below).

    Mouthwash is Harmless. Many people who use therapeutic mouthwashes with a high alcohol content experience dry mouth. Ironically this is a cause of bad breath, plus it can irritate tissues in your mouth. It also causes sensitivity to the root surface of the teeth in some people. Although alcohol-free mouthwashes are available, they can also cause side effects. These include staining your teeth or causing a sensation of burning in your mouth. Essential oils in some mouthwashes may have an uncomfortably sharp taste. Chlorhexidine can temporarily alter your sense of taste, and isn’t recommended for long-term use.

    Mouthwash Cures Bad Breath. Your bad breath may be temporarily curtailed by mouthwash, but it isn’t a permanent fix. The mouthwash may actually mask the symptoms of an oral health condition that is more serious than bad breath. In addition, stinky compounds from that garlicky lunch you ate are actually coming from your lungs as you exhale. So mouthwash won’t help you for very long. In addition, your natural saliva dilutes mouthwash and can reduce the effectiveness of the ingredients in your mouthwash.

    Mouthwash Can Replace Brushing. Although some mouthwashes can cut back on the level of bacteria in your mouth, it isn’t a substitute for daily brushing and flossing. Mouthwash won’t remove plaque and food debris as efficiently or effectively as brushing and flossing. Research shows that adding a rinse with mouthwash to your oral care routine can in fact improve the overall cleanliness of your mouth and help keep gum inflammation at bay. But mouthwash is usually considered an add-on, not a replacement for brushing and flossing.

    A Little Swish Is All You Need. If you do use mouthwash and you gargle or swish for a few seconds before spitting, then you’re not going to get much benefit from the mouthwash. It’s most effective if you gargle or rinse for a full 30 seconds.

    Remember, what works for your friend may not be the right choice for you when it comes to using mouthwash. Consider your own oral health needs and be sure to chat with your dentist about their thoughts on the effects of mouthwash and which one they would recommend for you.

    Sources: EverydayHealth.com, KnowYourTeeth.com, Best Health Magazine

  • My Life Behind the Lens

    EDITOR’S NOTE: The images on the walls at Personal Care Dentistry were all photographed by Dr. Walter Hunt, founder of the clinic. We thought you might like to know a bit more about Dr. Hunt’s passion for photography and the nature scenes he captures in his own words. Enjoy!

    At the age of 10, I discovered the venerable Brownie camera. It seems like I had always been interested in taking photos, but when I got that Brownie, my interest went from a pastime to a hobby. I was hooked and that was more than half-a-century ago! I was completely self-taught, and much of my teaching came from looking through a view finder, whether it was my original Brownie camera or my current Nikon D800 digital camera. I read everything I could get my hands on as my hobby progressed to a real passion for capturing the world around me through a camera lens.

    Eventually I came across a set of three books on photography by the master of black and white images, Ansel Adams. The three volumes The Camera, The Negative, and The Print were published in 1983 and presented a compilation of his life’s work and the intricacies of taking an idea and translating it into a stunning photograph. I first came across his three-volume set in 1985, and it has formed the foundation of my photography for almost three decades. Adams’ usage of the zone system to capture the world around him resonated with me, and over time I adopted his way of looking at things around us that we can capture on camera.

    I am constantly observing the world around us nature is my specialty and love, as you can see from my images and trying to look beneath the surface image we tend to see and find a layer below the surface that can capture our imagination and bring depth to the composition. Many people who have been with me when I am taking photographs tell me that the images and scenes that they walk right past seem to catch my attention and camera. The images captured are often surprising to them and I often hear You see things in nature that I just don’t see until I look at your photos.

    Over the course of the last couple of years, I have enjoyed almost as much as taking the photos the editing of my photos. That’s because of the quickly evolving digital editing software that is available and incredibly robust and intricate in its application to photography. Software like Adobe Photoshop often allows me the ability to bring to life what I see in nature in terms of form, texture and light. For me, it is an artistic expression that I truly enjoy as part of the photographic process. I tried painting in oils for awhile, but kept coming back to taking photos and manipulating them digitally.

    Lately, I have been using the Nikon D800. I started with a Nikon F100, and having been using them for decades. I really enjoy shooting digitally, because spending hour after hour in the darkroom processing my film and making prints was something I never could afford to do in terms of time. Running a busy dental practice generally got in the way of significant darkroom time.

    I hope you enjoy my images. They have brought much joy and happiness to me through the years and I am honored to share them with you!

    And if you would like to see what I have shot most recently, like my Photos by Skeet Facebook page.

  • When You Brush Your Teeth, Do Your Gums Bleed?

    If your gums bleed regularly when you brush your teeth, you may be suffering from the early stages of periodontal disease. The earliest stages of this disease of the gums causes inflammation of your gum tissue, followed by bleeding from your gums when you brush. If you don’t take care of periodontal disease, it can progress to causing significant damage to the soft tissues and bones in your mouth, and can lead to loss of teeth.

    Periodontal disease usually begins because of inadequate brushing and flossing. Both help remove bacteria from your mouth, and bacteria leads to plaque, which begins the steps that lead to periodontal disease. Some people are more prone to gum problems because of diabetes, certain medications, hormonal changes for women, other illnesses, and susceptibility because of genetics. But for the majority of the population who don’t have those issues, there is a direct link between inadequate oral health care and periodontal disease.

    The initial physical sign of periodontal disease is inflammation of the gums, which is called gingivitis. Your gums will look red and swollen and when you brush, your gums may bleed easily. At this stage, you won’t be dealing with bone or tissue loss.

    However, the next stage of periodontal disease is much more impactful on your oral health. If your gingivitis is not taken care of, the inflammation in your gums will move into the area around your teeth. Your gum tissue will begin to move away from your teeth and form pockets of infection. At this point, your bones, gums and tissue that support your teeth can be destroyed if left untreated.

    So now that you know what happens if periodontal disease takes up residence in your mouth, what can you do to prevent this nasty oral health disease? Follow these four simple tips:

    Be sure to brush your teeth twice daily and always use a toothpaste with fluoride

    Make a habit of flossing daily to get rid of plaque from between the teeth

    See your dental hygienist every six months for your routine cleaning and a check-up by your dentist

    Avoid smoking

    Follow this basic plan, and you are sure to keep your gums healthy, your teeth happy, and continue to have a winning smile.

    Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

     

  • Avoid Stained Teeth with These Three Simple Tips

    If you want to keep your teeth bright and white, but don’t want to cut out the foods and beverages that are most likely to stain your teeth, we have three simple tips you can follow.

    So what foods and beverages are most likely to stain your teeth? The ones that are most intensely colored are the top culprits. The color comes from intensely pigmented molecules called chromogens, which have the unfortunate habit of sticking to the enamel on your teeth.

    Chromogens combine with the acid in certain foods and beverages to deliver a double dose of trouble to your tooth enamel. The acid softens your tooth’s enamel, making it easier for the chromogens to stain your teeth. The chromogens also can get a boost to their staining power from a food compound called tannin.

    Foods and beverages that are the biggest teeth-staining culprits are wine (red and white), black tea, colas, sports drinks, deeply colored sauces (tomato sauce, curry sauce, soy sauce), berries and hard candy.

    To minimize the impact of these foods and beverages on your teeth then follow these three simple steps:

    Consider using a straw. By sipping your beverage through a straw you will help keep teeth-staining beverages away from your teeth especially your front teeth. You probably won’t want to use a straw for coffee or wine, but you should definitely consider using a straw for juices, cola, and iced tea.

    Be sure to swallow promptly. Protect your teeth from stains by promptly swallowing stain-causing foods and beverages (especially beverages). Of course you want to thoroughly chew your food and savor the flavors, but be mindful of the teeth-staining power of what you have in your mouth.

    Be a water swisher. It’s may not always convenient for you to brush your teeth after eating or drinking. Even when it is, it might be better not to: dental enamel is highly vulnerable to abrasion from tooth brushing for up to 30 minutes after the consumption of an acidic food or beverage. So it’s safer simply to swish with water and brush later, once the enamel has had a chance to re-harden. Another way to remove stain-causing substances without brushing is to chew sugarless gum after eating or drinking.

    And don’t forget the importance of brushing and flossing daily and be sure to see a dentist periodically and to avoid smoking or chewing tobacco. These long-term strategies, combined with the simple tips we’ve mentioned, should keep you smiling for years to come.

    Sources: WebMD and Personal Care Dentistry