As a new patient at Dental Health Associates in Harrisonburg, the first thing you’ll receive is a comprehensive dentist exam of your mouth and gums. This is where we gather your health and dental history, take comprehensive X-rays, check for gum disease, and check the general condition of your mouth and teeth. This dentist exam is often followed by a teeth cleaning service, available at our locations in Harrisonburg, Staunton, Dayton, Fishersville, and Lexington. A comprehensive dentist exam sets a benchmark for future exams and treatments and helps us monitor and record any existing conditions and treatments or spot any changes in your teeth or gums.
Head and neck cancers, such as oral cancer, have become some of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the U.S. While smoking is one cause of oral cancer, human papillomavirus (HPV) is another, and HPV is on the rise.
Oral cancer often doesn’t have symptoms in its early stages and can be deadly because it’s caught at an advanced stage. This is why every exam at Dental Health Associates includes visual and manual oral cancer screening. Our dentists will check for early signs of oral cancer, such as unexplained swelling or very small lesions that you might not be aware of. Please let us know if you or anyone in your family has a history of oral cancer.
X-rays are the most important tools we have in dentistry to get images of your teeth, jaws, and gums. At Dental Health Associates, we make full use of all the technology available to us, so we get the most detailed pictures of your mouth.
We use digital imaging technology rather than traditional X-rays. Digital X-rays use less radiation and give us clearer, more detailed images. We also use panoramic X-rays that show us your whole mouth in a single image.
In our Staunton office, we can also take 3D images of your mouth and jaw with our i-CAT® dental imaging equipment. It’s helpful for treatment planning, especially if you need involved or complex treatments, such as full-mouth restoration.
What’s the best thing about your regular checkup and cleaning? Walking out of our office with your mouth feeling squeaky clean! It feels that way because our dental hygienists really love what they do, and we use dental scalers that are state-of-the-art for removing plaque above and below the gum line and preventing gingivitis.
We have two different types of scalers that we can use. One is a sonic scaler, a hand-held tool that releases jets of water that whisk away debris and light plaque. If you have more severe, hardened plaque, we can use a Cavitron or Piezo ultrasonic scaler. It works the same as our sonic scaler, but the water pulses are much faster to break down hard calculus deposits on your teeth. Using ultrasonic scalers also helps us treat any gum disease you may have.
Healthy teeth and gums were always important as a part of good health, but we’re learning so much more now about the whole body connection to your mouth, especially your gums. The bacteria from gum disease can get into your bloodstream and complicate conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In turn, high blood sugar due to diabetes can feed the bacteria in your gums, contributing to periodontal disease.
We treat gum disease with our ultrasonic scalers that remove plaque from your teeth and root surfaces. We can also prescribe Arestin®, an antibiotic, or give you PerioProtect® trays that fit snugly over your teeth, sealing in medication to reach areas that toothbrushes or other treatments can’t.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that strengthens teeth to resist the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Fluoride that has been added to your drinking water “bathes” your teeth to help them stay strong and resistant to bacteria.
Not everyone has access to fluoridated water, or fluoride toothpaste might not give enough protection. In those cases, we can apply fluoride treatments as needed for both children and adults. But we need your help! Fluoride treatments alone won’t protect your teeth from bacteria or tooth decay. Brushing and flossing twice a day is still the best defense against bacteria, decay and tooth abscess.
Our dentists at Dental Health Associates have helped our patients who have sleep apnea, snore, or grind their teeth at night with custom-fit mouthguards.
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common problem in both children and adults and can lead to health and dental problems, such as headaches, sensitive teeth, or painful jaw muscles. Sleep apnea is a serious condition where the muscles around the tongue and throat relax while sleeping, blocking the flow of air to the lungs, sometimes interrupting breathing. The body usually wakes up and resumes normal breathing, but if it doesn’t, the sufferer could die. Even when sleep apnea isn’t present, snoring is a serious issue, both for the snorer and anyone else in hearing distance!
A custom-fit mouthguard can help prevent both bruxism and sleep apnea. They can also protect your teeth (or your children’s teeth) against injuries when playing sports.
To help our dental patients relax and to reduce pain, our doctors use nitrous oxide, sometimes called “laughing gas” for certain procedures. Nitrous oxide is a light sedative that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose.
Nitrous oxide will not put you to sleep. You will be able to hear and respond to any requests or directions the dentist may have. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off soon after the mask is removed.
Talk to us about any concerns or fears you may have, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure you’re comfortable, with as little pain as possible.
When accidents happen, we can often treat and even save a tooth if we see you in time. Until you get here, use regular first aid, plus try these tips:
- If you lose a tooth, pick it up by the crown (not the root) and rinse it under warm water. Put the tooth back into its socket or tuck it inside your cheek. If you can’t, put the tooth into a cup and cover it with milk or water (saliva works too).
- If you lose a crown, we may be able to reinsert it. If you can, clean the crown and attach it to your tooth with dental cement—not glue. Otherwise, keep it in a cool, safe place.
- If you’ve chipped a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water and apply pressure to stop the bleeding.
We love our technology at Dental Health Associates because it helps us help our patients. Clear, sharp X-rays, high-tech cleaning and treatment tools, advanced treatments for restorations or cosmetic dentistry—it all helps us diagnose and treat you while keeping you comfortable and free of pain.
In our Verona (Staunton) office, we incorporate a soft-tissue laser for a variety of uses where we may need to remove or treat gum tissue. A procedure such as exposing a tooth that hasn’t erupted or fixing a gummy smile to reveal more of a tooth’s surface can be done without cutting or bleeding, and with minimal discomfort.