Save BIG with our $29/Month Dental Membership Plan Learn More

Extended family at the beach

Bad Teeth vs Bad Habits

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

We are often reminded of regular maintenance care for positive oral health, sometimes in spite of our best efforts, things go awry. Did you know genetics plays a role in bad teeth? However, bad oral habits are not passed down. Good oral hygiene will give your teeth a fighting chance no matter what type of teeth you inherited. What can you do to put your best smile forward? Keep reading.

Oral Cancer

Quick Fact: According to The NYU Oral Cancer Center, “Approximately 30,000 cases are diagnosed each year, and about 8,000 patients die annually due to oral cancer. The incidence of oral cancer is increasing.”

Genetics: While the largest contributing factors for oral cancer are lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use and alcohol, genetics plays a minor role in the development of oral cancer. People carrying certain genetic markers may be at higher risk of developing the disease. Certain genetic syndromes such as Fanconi anemia or Dyskeratosis congenita carry a high risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer.

Environment: The more risk factors a person has the higher their chance of developing oral cancer. As many as 80 percent of patients with oral cancers use some type of tobacco product. Smokers are 10 times more likely to develop cancer than nonsmokers. Heavy drinking also puts one at risk for oral cancer. Exposure to ultra-violet light, such as excessive tanning, can also increase oral cancer risks.

Periodontal Disease

Quick Fact: Up to 30% of the U.S. population is predisposed to gum disease.

Genetics: Research suggests that some people are more susceptible to periodontal disease. If family members have suffered from periodontal disease it is worth mentioning to your dentist. This is because identifying those at risk allows for early intervention and can help prevent the disease.

Environment: While there is a link between periodontal disease and genetics, periodontal disease is largely preventable. Smoking and tobacco use, age, and poor nutrition are risk factors for periodontal disease.

Tooth Decay

Genetics: While tooth decay is mostly preventable, some people are more at risk than others.  Certain variations of the gene beta-defensin 1 (DEFB1) are linked to a greater risk of cavities in permanent teeth.

Environment: Tooth decay occurs mostly from lifestyle choices, such as drinking, smoking, and poor eating habits. Forming strong healthy habits at a young age helps give your mouth a fighting chance. If your children are at high risk for tooth decay, talk to a Commonwealth Dentistry professional about dental sealants. 

dental examMisaligned (Crooked) Teeth

Genetics: Braces is a hot topic in the dental industry. There is a link between genetics and misaligned teeth. Genetics plays a major role in determining the size of your jaw. Jaw size plays a key role in things such as crowding, gaps, overbites and underbites. Crevices and cracks within teeth make cleaning harder than those with clean straight lines. This in turn, causes more cavities because it is not as easy to clean the teeth.

Environment: Poor oral hygiene is another factor in developing crooked teeth. If you don’t take care of your mouth, your teeth are at risk for falling out. After this happens, teeth shift and move resulting misalignment. Other factors such as malnutrition, thumb sucking, early loss of baby teeth may also result in misaligned teeth.

Weak Teeth

Genetics: Genes control how teeth develop. Sometimes teeth do not form properly causing them to have weaker enamel and are more prone to bacteria.

Environment: The most common factors for weak teeth are related to environmental conditions such as poor diet and habits. Eating habits from childhood also carry over into our adult teeth. Factors such as not getting enough calcium when young can affect your mouth as you age.

Saliva Production

Genetics: Genetics play a key role in the amount of saliva produced within our mouths. Saliva washes away food particles and debris that can cause decay. Low saliva production can lead to cavities, decay, and gum recession. If your genetic variation for saliva production is missing then you could be at risk for tooth decay.

Environment: Drinking fluids, especially water, helps to flush your mouth of debris. Chewing and sucking also help generate saliva production. The more saliva you produce the healthier your mouth will be.

Teeth Color

Genetics: Teeth color shows a link between genetic factors as well. The way in which the white enamel (and the underlying yellow dentine) forms during development is mainly due to our genes. People who develop weaker enamel appear more yellow in color.

Environment: Environmental factors can include things incurred at a young age, such as certain antibiotics. However, yellow teeth is also due to many lifestyle choices. Drinking coffee, wine, tea, and smoking all affect the color of your teeth.

bad teeth vs. bad habitsWhat does this mean for you? Are you doomed if you family’s history signifies oral health problems. Not at all. Prevention has been proven time and time again to be the biggest factor in oral health. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash significantly decreases your risk for oral health problems.

No matter the reason behind the oral issues you are facing, making an appointment to see your dentist  allows them to asses any possible damage and get your teeth on the right track.


two women on the beach

Why Smile Care is Good for Your Soul

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

Most of us view smiling as an involuntary response to being happy. While this is true, smiling benefits your health, mood, and even the mood of those around you. Smile care plays an important role in willingness to share your smile with us. Learn more about the benefits of smiling and how you can improve your smile care routine to put your best face forward.

Quick Fact: Children smile about 400 times a day, adults smile only about 20.

According to a study conducted by American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and conducted by Wakefield Research shows that more than one-third of Americans adults are unhappy with their smiles. Smiling is an intimate part of your wellbeing, therefore finding disappointment in your own smile is disheartening. However, there are many ways to improve your smile.

Tips to Improve your Smile Care:

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a relatively simple fSmile Careix to brighten your smile. Ordinary day to day activities can cause teeth discoloration. There are a variety of options to whitening your teeth. However, professional grade whitening products are universally considered stronger and more effective.

Your dentist can provide custom fitted trays that use higher grade hydrogen peroxide solution as high as 35%. Often a halogen light or a heat source is used to speed up the process. This accelerates the whitening agent used by the dentist and results in much faster treatment. Treatment at the dentist’s office is more effective, has fewer side effects like irritated gums, and is the quickest way to achieve a brighter smile.



Fixing Misshapen or Missing Teeth

If you are missing teeth, bridges may be something to consider. Dental bridges use the surrounding teeth, also called abutments, to hold a false replacement tooth (pontic) in place. A pontic is similar to a crown but has no root. It’s possible that your surrounding, healthy teeth may need crowns to make them strong enough to support your replacement tooth.

Bonding is one of the best methods used to repair decayed or broken teeth that are unable to be repaired with a filling but don’t quite need to be fixed with a crown. Bonding is also often used to protect the nerve endings from a receding gum line, change the shape of a tooth, repair a chipped tooth, and cover-up built-up discoloration. Bondings are natural, beautiful, and unrecognizable.

VeneersHappy women smiling are capable of fixing almost any cosmetic dental issue. Chips, cracks, and stains can easily be covered with veneers. Porcelain veneers are wafer-thin shells that are custom-fit to match your teeth’s size, shape, color, and overall appearance. They match your teeth perfectly to give you a great smile.

Prevention and Maintenance

What can you do to perfect your smile at home? Prevention is always the key to healthy smile care. This includes brushing, flossing, and using a mouth rinse daily. Being consistent In your routine will help you stay on top of these healthy habits.

Read More: Tips for Healthy Teeth at Home

Maintenance is another key player in a powerful smile. Smile care is also maintained through preventative care appointments. Commonwealth Dentistry performs teeth cleaning and other preventive services that will keep you smiling for years to come.

Why Smile Care is a Boost for Your Soul?

  1. One of the most compelling reasons to smile: it may increase your lifespan. One study suggests that genuine smiling correlates with a longer life. Research generally concludes that maintaining a happy, positive mood may be an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Stress wrecks havoc across our entire bodies. Smiling combats stress. When you are stressed, smiling even when it’s not genuine, can decrease your stress levels. The physical act of smiling can “trick” your brain into entering a happy place. The next time you are overwhelmed take a deep breath and put a smile on your face, it just may improve your mood.happy man smiling wide
  3. Smiling is contagious. Your brain automatically interprets other’s facial expressions and uses those to read that person. Sometimes your brain even mimics those actions. Science has actually proven that one smiles unconsciously encourage others to smile.
  4. Smiling can improve your overall immune system. Smiling releases neurotransmitters helping you relax and thus decrease stress, thus helping improve your immune system. Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, other natural painkillers, and serotonin.
  5. Humans are naturally attracted to happy people. When you meet someone flashing a genuine smile can help them feel at ease. Others view people that smile as more attractive because they assume you are a positive, happy person.

If you are lucky, you spend a good amount of our day smiling. If you are unhappy with your smile, talk to one of our trusted dentists about ways to improve it. There are so many benefits to smile care. Taking care of yourself and improving your overall health is so important. Whether you are looking for an overall smile makeover or smile care maintenance, Commonwealth Dentistry would love to help.

woman with tooth pain

Breaking Down Your Fear of the Root Canal

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

Root Canals. Just the mere mention of the word may make you shudder. Root canal treatment is considered the most feared of all dental treatments. There are many rumors and myths surrounding root canal therapy, however, these are all unfounded. Here we will walk you through what are root canals and why you may need one. Plus we will help tackle any fear associated with rumors or myths you have heard.

Quick Fact: 97% of root canals are successful.

What is a root canal?

Root canal therapy is designed to remove bacteria from an infected root canal, prevent reinfection, and save the natural tooth. During a root canal, the dentist cleans and shapes the infected area before finally filling and sealing the root. After the procedure, the tooth may be capped with a crown.

Do I need a root canal?

Common reasons for root canals include a cracked tooth from an injury, genetics, deep cavities, or a previous infection. Signs or symptoms you might need a root canal:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Severe pain when biting or chewing
  • Pimples on the gum
  • Chipped tooth
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Deep decay and darkening of the gums

Commonwealth Dentistry- Root Canal

Q: Are Root Canals Painful? A: Root Canals relieve pain

Many patients fear root canals because they think or have heard they are extremely painful. The truth: root canals are no more painful than having a tooth filled. Local anesthesia will be applied just before your procedure to numb the area. After that, you won’t feel much of anything.

Post procedure patients are in much less pain than prior. This is due is because the damaged tooth pulp that was creating the pain has been removed. The pulp is packed with nerves and blood vessels. You may have some minor discomfort afterward but this can easily be eliminated with over the counter pain meds.

Q: Are Root Canals Safe? A: YES!

There is some misinformation regarding root canal therapy and its relationship to disease out there. The idea that root canals may cause health issues down the line is completely false. The myth arose for research conducted by Dr. Weston Price in the early 1900s, however, his research has long since been discredited.  There is simply no valid scientific evidence linking root canals to disease elsewhere in the body. Root canal therapy is a safe and effective procedure that gets rid of bacteria causing infection and pain.

Q: Is it better to have my tooth extracted? A: No, the best option is to save your natural tooth.

Saving your natural teeth is always the best option because nothing artificial can replace the look and function of your natural teeth. 97% of root canals are successful. Extraction of a tooth should be left as a last result. This is because has a much higher incidence of bacteria entering your bloodstream. Root canals are also far less costly than an extraction because you will not need a bridge or an implant to fill in the missing tooth.

Q: I am not in pain anymore, do I still need a root canal? A: Don’t be fooled by lack of pain.

The infection hurts when it is inside the tooth pulp. This is the area that contains the nerves and blood vessels, if this area dies your pain may also subside. However, that doesn’t mean the infection went away. After the pain goes away you will often notice oozing pus and facial swelling as the infection travels down your roots. Therefore, do not postpone treatment because you are no longer in pain.

Q: Root Canals are time consuming? A: Not really.

A root canal can often be resolved in one to two appointments. Therefore, in terms of dental appointments root canals are swift. The first appointment treats the issue itself. The second is generally needed for follow up or to be capped with a crown.

As always the best medicine to treat any dental issue is prevention. However, we understand that despite our best efforts issues arise. Let Commonwealth Dentistry take the stress out of your root canal. We are highly trained and skilled professionals that provide the highest level of care when it comes to root canal therapy.


earth with reduce reuse recycle arrows

Go Green in Your Oral Hygiene Routine

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

You have probably heard the phrase “going green,” but have you heard it concerning your oral hygiene routine? Many facets of dentistry involve disposables due to patient safety, however, there are still plenty of ways our office  goes green. This Earth Day we are celebrating various ways our offices “Go Green” plus suggestions on how you can go green at home!

Quick Fact: The EPA reports, “The total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2018 was 292.4 million tons (U.S.short tons, unless specified) or 4.9 pounds per person per day.”

How is Commonwealth Dentistry Going Green?

Go Digital

  • Paperless patient charts and Check-in: Paperless charts and check in help reduce our physical waste, plus they help keep everything organized.
  • Digital Radiographs/X-rays: Unlike traditional X-rays, these don’t require any chemicals to produce and because it is all digital there is no extra waste to dispose of.

Save Water

  •  Amalgam separator: Amalgam is a mixture of metals used to create fillings. The use of an Amalgam separator  allows for the removal of amalgam particles from the wastewater to reduce the amount of amalgam entering the sewage system.
  • Central vacuum that uses no water and has amalgam traps

Utilize Technology

  • Text and Email: Appointment reminders are sent by text or email
  • Programmable Thermostats: This allows to adjust the temperatures based on office usage. There is no need to cool the office the same as during busy daytime hours and nighttime hours.
  • Paper Waste: Reduced number of printers in each office and print double sided when possible

How can you Go Green in your Oral Hygiene Routine?

In the past we discussed ways to maintain our oral health at home, but what about the health of our planet? We can all make small changes to make sure the Earth stays green by improving our oral hygiene routine. Here are a few you can try at home:

  1. Turn off the Water. Conserve water by turning off the sink when brushing. Model this behavior for children as well.
  2. Brush Gently. The harder you brush the sooner your toothbrush will need to be replaced, creating unnecessary waste.
  3. Prevention is Key. Take care of your oral health by brushing, flossing, and using a mouth rinse. This will not only pay off monetarily but will also reduce the amount of waste produced from dental procedures.
  4. Green Toothbrushes and Toothpaste. There are a variety of brands that make toothbrushes made of 100% plant materials. Instead of spending years in a landfill like plastic toothbrushes these a completely compostable. Natural toothbrush breaks down easier, making it easier on our waterways.
  5. Repurpose. Old toothbrushes are great for cleaning more than just your teeth. Before you throw out your toothbrush consider using it to deep clean the nooks and crannies of your house.


The Importance of Going Green in Your Oral Hygiene Routine

It is up to us to make sure that the Earth is here for years to come, by making simple changes to our everyday oral hygiene routine jointly, we make a big impact.  Consider making a few of the changes above to ensure our beautiful planet stays so for years to come.

mother and daughter brushing teeth

Preventive Dentistry vs. Restorative Dentistry

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

There are many different facets of dentistry, just check our website and you will see we offer a variety of care options such as Preventive Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry, Cosmetic Dentistry and more. The overarching goal of any dental visit is the healthy structure and function of the mouth, however, when it comes to your mouth there is no substitution for regular for consistent care both at home and in the office.

Quick Fact: The CDC predicts 91% of adults over 20 have cavities at some point in their lives.

Smiling and happy familyWhat is Preventive Dentistry?

Preventive Dentistry revolves around the idea of maintaining a healthy mouth through routine appointments and at home care. It is a combination of regular check-ups and developing healthy mouth care habits.

We know that prevention works. There is no substitution for preventative care. Getting ahead of dental issues is the only way to create and maintain a healthy mouth.

  1. Professional Cleanings– Experts recommend a visit with a professional dentist every six months, more often if you have ongoing or previous issues. We’ll help get you on the best schedule to achieve and maintain your goals. The most important part of your regular visit remains the thorough dental cleaning that our hygienists provide, ensuring all plaque, stains, and tartar build up are removed.
  2. Preventive X-rays– X-rays allow us to see beyond your gum line to check if any major changes or problems are on the rise. Sometimes these alert the dentist to the beginning stages of more serious conditions.
  3. Orthodontic Screenings- Orthodontic screenings check if your bite or bone structure needs correction.
  4. At Home Care– Brush two times a day for two minutes, plus floss and mouthwash regularly. Further, following a healthy diet plus drinking adequate amounts of water will keep your mouth healthy.

Pro Tip: Healthy habits start from a young age. Encourage your children to participate in healthy habits by setting good examples. Good habits last a lifetime, so it’s important that you get your kids on the path to success as soon as possible. We recommend that children have their first visit with us before the age of one. We’d love to see your little ones at any of our offices. mother and daughter brushing their teeth

Quick Fact: Dental cavities are the number one chronic infectious disease of childhood, reports the CDC.

What is your Role in Preventative Dentistry?

  • Brush Two Times a Day
  • Floss Daily
  • Use Mouthwash
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products
  • Use a mouthguard during certain sports
  • Use a mouth guard if you grind your teeth
  • Schedule and maintain all your appointments

Quick Fact: According to the CDC, 27% of adults over 20 have untreated cavities.

What are the Benefits of Preventive Dentistry?

  • Lowers your risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and more serious dental issues
  • Promotes good oral health habits
  • Early identification of problems, helping to avoid both invasive and costly procedures
  • Helps reduce dental problems associated with chronic illnesses.

dental examPreventative Dentistry and Insurance Coverage

One enticing reason to participate in preventive dentistry is most dental insurances cover the cost associated with your appointment. Our patient support team is always willing to help estimate cost associated with preventive dentistry care. If you are uninsured we can help with that as well, learn more about our in-house dental plan, Commonwealth Cares.

Restorative Dentistry

Restorative Dentistry focuses on restoring functionality and appearance to damaged, missing, or infected teeth. Mouth maintenance is so important when it comes to preventative dentistry care, however, we recognize that not all situations result from improper care.

At some point in their life, almost everyone will need to have restorative work done on their teeth. Sometimes our teeth breakdown for a variety of other reasons despite our best efforts. These include age, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. It is also important to note emergency dental care often cannot be avoided. However, in most instances preventative dentistry is the best way to ensure a healthy smile and a lower bill.

Common Restorative Dentistry Treatments

  • Fillings– Fillings restore the strength and structure to damaged teethdental examination
  • Crowns– Crowns provide reinforced strength and stability to chipped, broken, or severely decayed teeth and they look attractive to making them aesthetically appealing as well.
  • Root Canals– A root canal is simply a restorative dental procedure that is used to save a tooth that is infected or severely decayed.
  • Implants– Dental implants are the most reliable way to permanently replace damaged or missing teeth.
  • Dentures– Dentures remain the easiest and best way to address missing teeth. They are removable, painless, flexible, and a less-expensive alternative to surgery.

One major difference between preventive dentistry and restorative dentistry is cost. There is almost always a cost associated with restorative care. For more information check out Understanding Dental Cost. Here we go into more detail regarding each procedure and the cost associated.


Preventative dentistry often thwarts the need for restorative care. In short, a great preventive care routine usually saves both time and money in the long run. What strategies will you implement to ensure a healthy smile? Make sure to add scheduling your next dental cleaning with us to the list.



Easing Your Fear of the Dentist

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

A fear of the dentist should not hold you back from going to the dentist, however, for some that is easier said than done. Oral health is an important indicator in determining your overall health. While there are many compelling reasons for visiting the dentist, they may feel trivial if you experience a strong fear of the dentist. At Commonwealth Dentistry, we are committed to going above and beyond by offering the best possible dental care.  

It is estimated that between 9 and 20 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety of fear of the dentist.

What is a Fear of the Dentist?

If you experience a fear of the dentist, it is important to remember you are not alone, a recent study showed that 60% of participants exhibited fears associated with the dentists. 

  • Fear vs. Phobia- A fear can be a strong dislike for doing something; a phobia on the other hand is a type of anxiety disorder.
  • Dentophobia (also called odontophobia) is an extreme fear of going to the dentist. It’s estimated that 2.7 percent of men and 4.6 percent of women have dentophobia.

fear of the dentist

Why are Patients Afraid of the Dentist? 

Fear of the DiagnosisThe actual diagnosis can cause fear itself. Perhaps you have experienced pain or an issue for months but have put off going to the dentist for a myriad of reasons. This could be related to cost, how will you afford this dental need?  Embarrassment may be another reason you are pushing off your dental visits. You fear you will be judged for allowing the condition to arise or worsen to this level.

Commonwealth Dentistry’s Promise: We promise to talk in depth regarding any fears or issues that you have. Our goal will always be to provide the best possible care at all times. 

Fear of Pain– We all have different thresholds for pain. Fear of pain arises from traumatic events of the past or even from horror stories told from others. Until relatively recently, many dental procedures were associated with a great deal of pain, however much has changed. Almost all procedures are virtually pain free. 

Commonwealth Dentistry’s Promise: We will take every measure possible to make sure your experience is a pleasant one. We promise to provide a gentle, personalized touch. 

Fear of Numbing and Injections– While some may be afraid of the actual injections others still are afraid that the injection will not work. Resulting in feeling everything that goes on in their mouth. If you have experienced chocking or difficulty breathing in the past, this may leave you worried about having your mouth numb. 

Fear of Helplessness– Often fear stems from not being able to control what is happening to you, when in the dental chair you may feel stuck or unable to see what is going on.

Commonwealth Dentistry’s Promise: We promise to talk through everything with you and make sure you feel at ease in our care. 

Fear of the Instruments– The dental instruments sounds and smells can be overwhelming, plus they are heightened due to the close proximity to your face. Simply seeing the instruments can also invoke fear.

Commonwealth Dentistry’s Promise: If your fear is associated with the look of instruments, let us know and we will do everything we can to keep those out of sight. 


How to Find the Right Dentist for You

Finding the right dentists is key to easing your own fear of the dentist.

  1. Ask yourself: 
    1. What would my “ideal” visit to a dentist be like? 
    2. How would an “ideal dentist” mitigate your dental fears?
    3. What would make you feel most at ease in the dental chair?
  2. Ask for recommendations from a trusted source such as a friend, family member, or coworker. 
  3. Contact the office. Ask if offices have worked with dental phobias before and what measures they take to mitigate fears
  4. Advocate for yourself, let your dentist know that you are more aware of pain than others.  Be open and honest about your fears. What triggers you? Where did you fears start? Having this open and honest communications prepares both you and your dentists on how to better accommodate your needs. Knowledge is power, simply putting your fears out there may help you feel better. You do not have to have a face to face conversation about your fear of the dentist, instead try:
    1. Send an email or a Facebook or Instagram message.
    2. Write down your fears and hand it to dentist when you meet them. 
    3. Call us anytime to address your fears.

What We Promise to Help Ease Your Fears

Suffering from dental anxiety is not unusual, we understand that finding the right dentist is key to mitigating your fears. The right dentist will always take your concerns seriously and do what they can to alleviate your fear of the dentist. We also understand that avoiding the dentist altogether can lead to serious health conditions and more expensive treatment down the line, thus trying to find a way for your to be comfortable in our office is paramount in getting you the treatment that you need. 

We promise personalized care for each and every patient. Our staff will treat you with compassionate care from the front desk all the way back to the dental chair. Together we will work to make your experience not just bearable, but in time something you look forward to.


fear of the dentist, sedation dentistrySedation Techniques

Sedation dentistry may alleviate your fear of the dentist by offering and safe and easy way to relax when you have dental procedures and treatments. There are several options to ease your worries when it comes to sedation techniques.

Oral Sedation

Technique: Medication (oral pill) that puts you in a semi-conscious, relaxed state

What to Expect: You remain awake and calm throughout the procedure, but likely will not remember the procedure once it is complete.

Nitrous Oxide

Technique: More commonly known as laughing gas, you will breathe the gas through a mask that fits snugly over your nose.  

What to Expect: The soothing techniques will take over almost immediately. You will remain relaxed and calm, but also conscious and aware throughout your procedure. Upon removal, the effects of the gas wear off very quickly.

IV Sedation

Technique: Usually reserved for more extensive and complicated procedures, IV sedation is also a good option if you need to undergo multiple procedures simultaneously. 

What to Expect: An IV is gently inserted into your arm, delivering medicine throughout the procedure. You will remain relaxed and awake, while being closely monitored the entire time.

What You Can do to Ease Your Own Fears

  • Express any concerns with our staff formulating a system that works for you. Commonwealth Dentistry always promises to offer compassionate, personalized care. 
  • Find quite appointment times– if the noise of tools is something that brothers you visiting during off hours.
  • Try to schedule early in the day– if you get the appointment over and done with then you don’t spend the day worrying about the upcoming events building them up in your head.
  • Bring noise-canceling headphones or ear buds with music to help you relax. Listen to your music, podcasts  etc even in the waiting room to help take your mind off of upcoming events. 
  • Ask the dentist team to explain each task being completed so your will know what is going on and feel like an active participant in your own dental treatment. 
  • Don’t get to your appointment too early- excess time leaves time for your anxiety to build.  
  • Ask a friend or a loved one to accompany you during your appointment.
  • Practice deep breathing and other meditation techniques to calm your nerves.
  • Establish a signal that means you need a break with your dentist
  • Seek resources to help learn others way to cope. This website may be a helpful took when overcoming fear of the dentist. 
  • Seek medical help if you are experiencing extreme anxiety.

We believe in a strong relationship amongst patients and staff. While fear of the dentist is a common condition, we aim to do everything we can to make you feel at ease with at our offices. Commonwealth Dentistry promises to deliver the best possible care when you trust us with your dental health.  We want you to feel comfortable and find your dental home as part of our Commonwealth Family.

boy getting cleaning

3 Ways to Make Dental Care For Kids Fun

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

Do you have a little one that will visit the dentist soon? Dental care for kids can be a daunting task for parents. Even the most agreeable child may buck when you try to brush their teeth. Flossing is a whole different story completely. There is no need to fear because dental care for kids can be fun! Check out some creative ways to get your little one to show some love to their teeny tiny smiles.

Dental Care For Kids

It is no secret that brushing at least twice a day every day is a key component of a cavity free mouth.  Children should brush their teeth as soon as the eruption of the first tooth, however many parents were starting much later. Some even as late as ages 2 or 3. According to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of U.S. children start brushing later than they should. This is a problem because plaque and tartar build up on children’s teeth just as they do adults. Early mouth care habits that encourage children to brush their teeth in a fun and exciting way will pay off in the long run.

It is recommended that parents brush and floss children’s teeth until the child has proper coordination to do so themselves. This is around age six but can vary depending on the child. Distraction is a powerful tool when it comes to mouth care. While brushing their teeth, sing songs, talk about their day, and use that moment to teach them things like their ABC’s, days of the week, months of the year, math facts etc. Brushing can serve as a valuable bonding time among parent and child.

3 Ways to Make Dental Care For Kids Fun

Many children understandably experience anxiety about someone poking and prodding in their mouth. There are many ways to make dental care for kids fun such as singing songs, reading books, or even TV shows. Trying a variety of techniques to get your child excited about brushing and the dentist can be fun learning experience.

1. Recommended Reading:

Books allow for an escape to a world that is more palpable. Perhaps it is easier for your child to imagine themselves as an enormous walrus getting her teeth cleaned. Or maybe your child would rather see the world of dentistry lit up through fun characters. Whatever they like, there is sure a book that will make dental care for kids fun. Check out some of these titles below:

ready set brush elmotooth brookdental care for kidsdental care for kidsdental care for kidsBrush Brush Brush

2. Musical Escapes

Music offers another way to escape. Songs can be used to help keep track of how long brushing has taken place or as a distraction. Using songs provides a great way for kids to learn by having fun singing and dancing. Listen to these fun tunes on the way to dentist to get them excited.

1. Brush Your Teeth by Pink Fong

2. Brush Your Teeth by Simple Songs

3. Brush Brush by Sesame Street Featuring Elmo 

3. Visual Learning

Finally, visual interpretations of the dentist can also provide great comfort to a a child.  There are many shows that will educate your child while easing their fears associated with dental care for kids.

1. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood- Daniel Gets His Teeth Cleaned

2. Peppa Pig Goes to the Dentist

3. Dudley Visits to the Dentist

In the end it is proper mouth care habits started early that will shape your children’s mouth the most. Visiting a Pediatric Dentist is an important part in mouth maintenance. Commonwealth Dentistry is a safe, comfortable space that creates a connection amongst doctor and patient while participating in the highest standard of pediatric dental care.  We would love to take care of your little one’s smile. 

reception area

Ensuring Dental Safety During Covid-19

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives in one way or another. School, work, or businesses closing, affects some indirectly, while others feel more direct effects through illness and loss.  In fact, our own dental offices closed for routine procedures for several weeks. Our offices are now open and we are taking every precaution to ensure your dental safety throughout COVID-19. 

Protocols are constantly being evaluated and examined for what procedures should and should not be upheld. While we cannot foresee the end of the pandemic, nor are we experts pertaining to the disease but we can offer insight related to how one should handle their dental obligations. 

For Up to Date Info on our COVID-19 Policies, Read More: COVID-19 Information Page for Commonwealth Dentistry

Dental Health and the COVID-19 Connection

Newest studies suggest a strong link that hospitalized coronavirus patients with prior underlying gum disease can be higher risk for respiratory failure. This has been dubbed the “Mouth Covid Connection,” suggesting a link the bacteria in inflamed gums and bone loss, symptoms associated with periodontitis and COVID-19 complications.  Gum disease can be linked to other respiratory conditions such as COPD and pneumonia, indicating it is likely to have a connection with COVID-19. 

Researchers also suggest that existing dental health conditions may worsen from exposure to COVID-19. 47% of adults over 30 have some form of periodontal disease. Now researchers are linking some startling oral health conditions to the list of prolonged COVID-19 symptoms.  If you are worried you may suffer from gum disease, now is the time to visit the dentist.Keeping you safe

It is now more important than ever to take care of your oral health. Gum disease starts when plaque builds up along the gum line. This build can cause infections that to both the gums and the bones. If this condition is left untreated it will advance into periodontitis and destroy the gums, bones, and tissues that surround your teeth.

Another conundrum of the COVID-19 equation is populations that are at highest risk for COVID-19 are also at highest risk for poor dental health. There are strong links between common risk factors like stress, poor diet, and tobacco and alcohol use. During a pandemic, many factors affecting overall oral health are heightened. 

Stress and Dental Health

Stress wreaks havoc on our entire body manifesting in different ways depending on the person. No one can argue that COVID-19 has not been stressful in some fashion. You may have felt the effects of stress through shoulder pain, headaches, or insomnia, but did you also know stress can affect your oral health?

Research suggests a strong association between oral health conditions like erosion, caries, and periodontal disease and mood conditions like stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

Common  Stress-Related Oral Conditions
        • Pain amongst the jawline
        • Grinding teeth or bruxism
        • Cold Sores 
        • Oral infections or sores, which may show up as ulcers, white lines, or white or red spots. 

These issues heightened by poor oral hygiene and decreased immune response.  Sometimes adding one more item feels daunting when you are already pushed to the max. Therefore, patients may feel too tired, too anxious, or too stressed to add one more thing forgoing basic hygiene practices. Lack of proper oral care compounded with the fact that stress decreases our immune response creates a breeding ground for issues. 

Contemplative man gazing out of the windowLack of Routine

Our days lack routines because our kids aren’t in school as normal, our work hours vary, and we don’t leave as often as before. All together this creates opportunities for missed brushing, flossing, and mouth rinses.

Humans feel more comfortable when we follow a routine. These expectations and patterns allow us to keep up consistency within our daily lives. Including times when we take care of oral care. Keeping up with a routine even while at home is important for our overall health.

Dietary Changes

Stress plus a lack of routine contributes to change in our diets during this time as well. There is more snacking- including more sugar. Tobacco and alcohol use are extremely detrimental to oral health. In fact, they are the top two risk factors for oral cancer.

Autumn scenery What You Can Do

Prevention is the cornerstone of health, doing your part to prevent issues within your mouth is paramount. Strategies to improve overall oral health include reduction of tobacco and alcohol use, eating a well balanced healthy diet, and maintaining healthy habits such as brushing and flossing. 

Mitigating stress throughout this difficult time is hard for all of us. Feeling that the proper thing is confusing at times. Missing events with family and friends are disheartening.  Try getting creative with ways that encourage stress relief. 

      1. Get Outside– Sunlight is an important ingredient of our emotional and physical health. Exposure to sunlight helps our body create Vitamin D because Vitamin D aids in the absorption of Calcium it is vital in maintaining strong healthy teeth.  Visit one of Richmond’s outdoor trails and parks.
      2. Stay in a Routine– Brushing your teeth can feel invigorating in the morning and also calming at night. Keeping these as part of wake up and wind-down routine. 
      3. Eat at Scheduled Times– Keeping in a routine with balanced and healthy meals will help cut back on the intake of snacks 
      4. Incorporate Ways to De-stress– If you feel yourself clenching your teeth, try taking a few calming breaths, a short walk, or listening to mindful music to help you calm. 
      5. Talk to Someone– If you are experiencing any issues seek a medical professional help
      6. We are Here for You– If you notice any changes in your oral health give any of our locations a call or schedule an appointment online.

What We are Doing to Ensure Your Dental Safety

Dental safety should not be another contributing factor to your stress level. At Commonwealth Dentistry, we want you to feel comfortable and safe. We will be taking additional dental safety precautions for our team and our patients to ensure the safety and health of everyone that walks through our doors. Below are the specific safety measures that our patients should be aware of before arriving for their appointment:

Dental Safety Measures at Commonwealth Dentistry

  • Hand sanitizer and Hand Soap– both are readily available for use throughout the office
  • Car Waiting– If you prefer to wait in your car, please call the office when you arrive. We will bring all the necessary paperwork to you.
  • Screening– All patients and staff will have their temperature taking upon arrival. No admittance into our facilities with a temperature of 100.4 or greater.
  • Decreasing Aerosoles – We will be using a dental technology called the Isolite in some of our dental procedures, this eliminates airborne aerosols by over 90%.
  • PPE– Our team will be using the appropriate PPE including gloves, masks, and face shields.
  • Pre-procedural Mouth Rinse– Everyone will complete this mouth rinse prior to their visit. COVID-19 is vulnerable to oxidation, any mouth rinse containing oxidative agents such as 1% hydrogen peroxide or .2% povidone is recommended to reduce the salivary load of oral microbes, including potential COVID. 
  • Limiting Numbers– We will be limiting the number of people inside our facilities
  • Professional Cleaning– We are utilizing a professional cleaning company to disinfect all surfaces in our office with an electrostatic fogger. This two-step process, utilized by airlines and hospitals, sterilizes the surfaces and wraps around objects and surfaces providing a protective coating. You will not be able to see, feel, or smell the product. If a person touches an object or surface the disinfectant will kill viruses and bacteria on contact.

Dental Safety is and has always been our office goal. We understanding that navigating through these challenging times is hard. Please know that we will do everything in our power to ensure your dental safety.


Children's dental chair

Why Visiting a Pediatric Dentist is a Must

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

Parents are swarmed by information about raising children including those related to oral care and the pediatric dentist. While most parents know they need to teach our children about proper mouth care, they don’t always know the when’s, why’s, or where. Below we will breakdown the most common questions about your child and when they should visit a pediatric dentist.

Fact: According to the CDC, Cavities are the number one chronic infectious disease of childhood.

pediatric dentist

When Should Your Child First Visit a Pediatric Dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see the dentist at one year old, or six months after the eruption of their first tooth, whatever comes first. While this may seem young to some, primary teeth begin growing around six months allowing exposure to a variety of elements that may change the course of their overall oral health. Starting your child early at the pediatric dentist creates the added benefit of a dental home where they feel more comfortable for each subsequent visit. 

The Importance of Baby Teeth

The truth is, baby teeth are a key part of the lifelong journey of oral health. The key to a healthy mouth is always prevention.  The first dental appointment serves as a guide for parents to learn proper techniques about brushing and flossing to maintain a healthy smile.  

According to the AAPD, keeping primary (or “baby”) teeth in place until they are lost naturally is paramount. Primary teeth are important for many reasons: 

  • Helping children chew properly to maintain good nutrition.
  • Involvement in speech development.
  • Helping save space for permanent teeth.
  • Promoting a healthy smile that helps children feel good about the way they look.

What to Expect at Commonwealth Dentistrypediatric dental exam room

At Commonwealth Dentistry, we are happy to serve every member of your family. We proudly offer preventative dentistry, restorative dentistry, sedation dentistry, and more.

Preventative Care

Preventative care is the cornerstone towards long term, healthy oral care. For children, preventive care includes anticipatory guidance, routine cleanings and exams, fluoride treatment, sealants, and orthodontic referrals. You can start bringing your child to our dental office at the age of one year old, or when the first tooth erupts – whichever comes first.

Age What To Expect 
First tooth eruption-1 year First visit. Creation of a dental home and get to know the pediatric dentist.
1-5 years Assess overall dental health, talk healthy habits, and gain familiarity with the pediatric dentist. Schedule regular dental visits.
6-12 Children begin loosing and gaining baby teeth. Assess overall health. Make recommendations for orthodontic care.
Teens Continue ongoing care, visit the dentist every 6 months or more if oral health conditions are diagnosed.

Restorative Care

Another paramount pillar of overall dental health is Restorative Care, because dental issues can arise regardless of age. Restorative dental care includes any service we provide to restore your child’s natural smile and oral health when one or more teeth are damaged or missing. This care can include cavity fillings, tooth extractions, crowns, and more.

Sedation Dentistry

Many children (and adults) have a fear of the dentist. However, there are many ways to help children understand and calm fears of the pediatric dentist. Our specially trained team takes every measure to ensure you and your child feel comfortable and at ease.  We work with each family on an individual basis, based on the child’s needs, and we will discuss all of your concerns with you before your visit.

Sedation Dentistry is one way to calm dental fears associated with the pediatric dentist. We typically recommend sedation for long or multiple procedures, but also for children with fear, special needs, or an inability to sit still.

child watching parent teeth cleaning Before Your Pediatric Dentist Visit:

Sneak Previews: Lead by example and bring your child with you or older siblings to dental appointments. They will feel more comfortable at their appointment by seeing people they trust in the hot seat.

Talk About It: Talk about teeth care, make silly songs, have fun! This will encourage your child to want to brush and floss. There are a variety of fun stories, books, even shows that can help children feel comfortable at the dentist. 

Pretend Play: Kids love interacting with you! Practice being the dentist and the patient. Make the visit fun by bringing a favorite stuffed animal or toy with your little. The toy can partake in the dental visits while also offering comfort. 

Time: Running behind can add undue stress to any situation, plan plenty of time so that the dental visit is not rushed.  

Rest: Make sure your child is well-rested before the visit so that he or she feels relaxed and comfortable. Also, consider nap times when scheduling your appointment. 

Be Prepared: Think ahead about any questions you have regarding dental care for your child. 

Jennifer DixonMeet Dr. Jennifer Dixon

Our board-certified pediatric dentist, Dr. Jennifer Dixon, is here to take care of your children’s dental needs. She attended the College of William and Mary, where she graduated with a degree in biology and minor in chemistry, and later she earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from VCU School of Dentistry. Jennifer and her husband Mark live in Richmond with their two children, Kate and Emma, their goldendoodle Max, and their Dutch Warmblood horse Touchdown. As recent as 2020, Dr. Jennifer Dixon was selected by her peers as a Top General Dentist according to Richmond Magazine. To learn more about Dr. Dixon check out her full bio here.

dental consultation

Tips for Healthy Teeth at Home

By Commonwealth Dentistry | Dental Learning Center | No Comments

Often one of the first things you notice about a person is their smile. A welcoming show of pearly whites makes a great first impression. Healthy teeth and gums are important factors in your overall health, thus staying on top of mouthcare at home is vital. Simply put, if you take care of your teeth, they will take care of you.

The Importance of Dental Health

Dental health is an important factor in our everyday health. Oral health offers clues about your overall health. Your mouth teems with “good” bacteria that help aid in digestion and fight diseases. However, because your mouth serves as an entry point for both digestive and respiratory tracts it also can harbor harmful bacteria. 

Healthy habits such as daily brushing, flossing, and mouth rinses can help keep harmful bacteria at bay. By not devoting time to properly care for one’s mouth a build-up of harmful bacteria results leading to oral infections. 

What Conditions Linked to Poor Oral Health?

Condition Explanation
Endocarditis Infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) occurs when bacteria or germs from another part of your body (such as your mouth) spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
Cardiovascular Disease Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
Pregnancy and Birth Complications Periodontitis (gum disease) has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Pneumonia Bacteria in your mouth can travel to your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

It is easy to conclude that staying on top of oral health care is of utmost importance, what can you do at home to make sure your smile stays healthy and bright? Keep reading. 

Why Staying on Top of Oral Health is Important 

    1. The Surgeon General’s Report clearly indicates that oral health is vital for overall health. Skipping appointments can lead to missed issues that progress into larger more aggressive problems. 
    2. The most prevalent oral conditions are dental caries (cavities) and periodontal diseases, and they are largely preventable
    3. Dental caries is the most common chronic childhood disease and continues into adulthood. 
    4. Among US adults, 2011–2014 national data indicate that 32.7% had untreated dental caries 
    5. 42.7% of adults aged 30 or older had periodontitis and 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.

The Basics of Healthy Teeth:

Your Job: You are a key player for bright and healthy teeth. Your main job is to remove plaque the plaque that clings to your teeth.

Plaque accumulates when food and bacteria settle on the teeth, a build-up of this material calcifies or hardens to form tartar. Tartar irritates your gums and can lead to gum disease as well as cause bad breath.

Brush, Floss, Mouthwash

woman brushing her teeth in the mirrorIf you have ever been to the dentist you have heard the three keys to successful mouthcare are: Brushing, Flossing, and Mouthwash. Be consistent and create a routine helping to stay on top of these healthy habits. Below you will find some key ingredients when formulating the best possible care for your teeth.

  1. The American Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes, twice a day. We recommend using a soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste angled at 45 degrees for optimal brushing.
  2. Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months because worn-out, frayed bristles are not as effective at cleaning your teeth.
  3. It is your preference when it comes to manual vs. electric toothbrushes. Whatever you prefer just make sure it has the ADA seal of approval.
  4. Brushing with too much intensity can damage the soft tissues around your teeth leading to receding gums, open sores that can lead to infection, and tooth sensitivity.
  1. Floss each time you brush.
  2. Flossing gets into the spaces that brushing cannot, thus making them an essential player towards healthy teeth and gums.
  3. As the floss gets close to your gums, curve the floss to form a C shape. This helps the floss enter the space between your gums and your tooth.
  1. Every time you rinse with mouthwash you can kill the bacteria that lead to plaque and tartar build-up.
  2. There are a wide variety of mouthwashes available and can be tailored to your needs. For example, if you experience frequent cavities using a mouthwash with fluoride can help a great deal.
  3. Mouthwash not only strengthens your enamel but remineralizes your teeth effectively halting tooth decay.
Dietary Considerations

Diet also plays an important part in procuring healthy teeth. Sugary foods and drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay. Tobacco and alcohol use are extremely detrimental to oral health. In fact, they are the top two risk factors for oral cancer. Healthy teeth and healthy diets go hand in hand. 


A study published in the Journal of Dentistry linked healthy habits such as exercise to stronger and healthier teeth. The Journal found that those who worked out regularly had a lower incidence of severe periodontal disease than those who forgo physical fitness.

Commonwealth Dentistry officeWhy You Should Still Visit the Dentist

Being proactive in dental care is more than just creating and maintaining healthy habits. Creating a strong relationship with your dentist and asking questions is also important.  Routine appointments are paramount in making sure everything is on track and diagnosing issues when things go awry.

Don’t wait it out

Dental care can be costly, the longer you wait the more issues that arise. That is why routine maintenance at home and in the office is paramount to keeping costs at bay. Start by creating a routine centered around mouth care, next make an appointment with a dental professional to evaluate if any more in-depth treatment is needed to get your mouth in tip-top shape.  If you’d like to learn more about dental costs check out our article: Understanding Dental Costs

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for a Payment Plan

It can be overwhelming to feel as though you need to pay a bill all at once. Perhaps you want to pay monthly as you pay into an HSA monthly, thus allowing for more flexibility with this money. We get it, that is why we offer a variety of payment plans along with Care Credit. You are encouraged to talk to us about any issues you may have, together we will work to formulate a plan that works for you. 

Consult Your Insurance

Dental insurance can be confusing, the best way to understand your benefits is through those providing them.  Utilize their knowledge of the service they provide you for a clear understanding of what is included and to what extent, as well as, what treatments may not be covered.

Commonwealth Care

We want you to know that we are here for you and your family’s needs. That’s why we are offering a discounted annual dental membership plan to those who are uninsured and in need of quality dental care.

With our membership plan, you and your family have access to easy and affordable dental services. Ask any of our team members about Commonwealth Care, a discounted annual dental membership plan for those who are uninsured and in need of quality dental care.


Commonwealth Care membership plansWhile it may seem simple, taking precautionary measures to protect your teeth is the best at home defense for your teeth. There is no time like the present to brush, floss, and mouthwash. Next, make an appointment to be seen in one of our offices. We look forward to taking your smile to the next level this year.