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?
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.
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
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?
Turn off the Water. Conserve water by turning off the sink when brushing. Model this behavior for children as well.
Brush Gently. The harder you brush the sooner your toothbrush will need to be replaced, creating unnecessary waste.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What 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.
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.
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.
Orthodontic Screenings- Orthodontic screenings check if your bite or bone structure needs correction.
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.
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.
Preventative 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 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 teeth
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.
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.
Fear of the Diagnosis– The 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.
What would my “ideal” visit to a dentist be like?
How would an “ideal dentist” mitigate your dental fears?
What would make you feel most at ease in the dental chair?
Contact the office.Ask if offices have worked with dental phobias before and what measures they take to mitigate fears
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:
Write down your fears and hand it to dentist when you meet them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Lack 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Eat at Scheduled Times– Keeping in a routine with balanced and healthy meals will help cut back on the intake of snacks
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.
Talk to Someone– If you are experiencing any issues seek a medical professional help
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.
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.
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 Dentistry
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 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.
What To Expect
First tooth eruption-1 year
First visit. Creation of a dental home and get to know the pediatric dentist.
Assess overall dental health, talk healthy habits, and gain familiarity with the pediatric dentist. Schedule regular dental visits.
Children begin loosing and gaining baby teeth. Assess overall health. Make recommendations for orthodontic care.
Continue ongoing care, visit the dentist every 6 months or more if oral health conditions are diagnosed.
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.
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.
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.
Meet 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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
The most prevalent oral conditions are dental caries (cavities) and periodontal diseases, and they are largely preventable
Dental caries is the most common chronic childhood disease and continues into adulthood.
Among US adults, 2011–2014 national data indicate that 32.7% had untreated dental caries
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
If 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.
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.
Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months because worn-out, frayed bristles are not as effective at cleaning your teeth.
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.
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.
Floss each time you brush.
Flossing gets into the spaces that brushing cannot, thus making them an essential player towards healthy teeth and gums.
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.
Every time you rinse with mouthwash you can kill the bacteria that lead to plaque and tartar build-up.
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.
Mouthwash not only strengthens your enamel but remineralizes your teeth effectively halting tooth decay.
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.
Why 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.
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.
While 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.
Ouch! What is worse, the pain from the tooth itself or the cost of the dental procedure? Dental costs sometimes catch patients off guard. While these costs may seem overwhelming, our hope is by breaking down the variables within costs our patients will gain a better understanding of the factors that impact cost and why they exist.
General Dental Costs:
Perhaps you are experiencing dental pain or you’ve had non-symptomatic issues identified at a routine cleaning: The next step is to create a treatment plan and estimate the cost to rectify the issue. There are several factors that affect almost any dental procedure.
Costs are often higher in cities vs. rural areas. This chart illustrates fluctuations based on zip codes. The geographic fluctuations in cost follow a similar trend to the cost of living differences we are accustomed to seeing.
2. The Necessities:
Examinations and X-rays are almost always a must to diagnose any dental issue. Any time you haven’t seen your dentist in 10 months or longer or you have an emergency issue, X-rays and a thorough exam are necessary to properly diagnose a problem or provide ongoing preventative care.
3. Lab Fees:
Items like crowns, implants, dentures, night guards are sent to a dental lab that custom makes each item thus a fee is associated.
4. The Extent of Work:
Sometimes estimates fluctuate based on a variety of factors due to the condition of the teeth, bone structure, gums, etc.
5. Delaying Dental Procedures:
Here’s the thing, tooth decay never gets less expensive or more simple to address with time. If you wait on addressing issues, you may require more extensive treatment when you’re ready to fix the problem. The more serious the issue, the higher the price tag for the dental repair due to the complexity of the work. In short, the sooner you address the issue the better.
6. In and Out of Network:
If you have dental insurance, going to an in-network provider will result in lower costs. Out of Network providers may still be able to file claims with your dental insurance company, although some policies will only cover care with their ‘network providers’.
7. Cosmetic Procedures:
Cosmetic procedures, defined as services that solely improve the appearance of the teeth and mouth, are not generally covered by insurance and will incur higher costs. This includes teeth whitening, tooth shaping, veneers, and gum contouring.
8. Preventative, Basic & Major Procedures:
These are the three classifications insurance companies define procedures by resulting in different coverage for each.
What it Includes
Semi-annual cleanings, x-rays, and sealants
Insurance covers around 90-100%
Fillings and extractions
Insurance covers around 80%
Dentures, bridges, inlays, and crowns
Insurance covers around 50%
*these are generalizations, your insurance may vary, always check your plan for exact details
Quality of Care
One key component of dental care is the quality of care received. Sure there are providers that offer a quick turn around with lower-cost options on some dental procedures, but cheap price tags are almost always at the expense of something else.
For example, have you ever seen advertisements for low-cost, same-day dentures? The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ can apply to these scenarios as these cheaper alternatives often lack personalized care, quality, and long-term viability. The customer is almost always getting the short end of the stick to save a few dollars. If you want quality, long-lasting dental care, the work must be completed by a highly trained and experienced dentist that oversees the process from start to finish.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may also see increases in the cost of care for ‘extras’ that don’t necessarily correlate to the quality of your dental care i.e. ‘spa dentistry‘ with equipment like massage chairs.
Average Baseline for Care
Your teeth-just like you- are unique. Therefore, every estimate provided is unique to you and your individual needs. Depending on the complexity of the issue, your price may fluctuate; however, consulting the table below can help you formulate a baseline. Oftentimes the estimate is given based on visible cluesthe dentist identifies during their exam and what the x-rays show. However, the estimates can vary based on underlying conditionsand numerous other factors which we detail below.
*price ranges reflect National Averages and are not indicative of Commonwealth Dentistry prices
First things First- Initial Exams:
If you are a new patient or it has been longer than 10 months since you’ve had a cleaning, a comprehensive exam is the first step in allowing your provider to gather baseline information about your dental health. This exam will include x-rays, a periodontal (gum and bone) evaluation, an oral exam, and should include an oral cancer screening.
After your comprehensive exam, you may receive a treatment plan with the recommended work. An ideal treatment plan should prioritize necessary work based on a joint understanding of the most pressing issues noted by your dentist and hygienist.
Factors that Cause Fluctuations in Pricing:
Whether it’s a routine cleaning or a root canal, each specific procedure performed during your visit has an associated fee that varies based on several factors such as the supplies and equipment utilized and the complexity of the work performed.
Includes every tooth that is present, shows the root of the tooth to make sure there is no infection, shows bone health/levels
Help diagnose gum disease and cavities between teeth
Shows a global view of the teeth, jaws, sinus spaces, Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
Regular mouth maintenance is a must, price fluctuations largely occur because of improper maintenance. If you are not getting regular cleanings (every 3-6 months depending on the presence or absence of gum disease) or maintaining ideal oral hygiene at home to prevent plaque build-up, a more in-depth cleaning may be necessary.
Think about cleaning your baseboards at home. If you only cleaned them once a year, it would take much longer to get all the dust and dirt off. If you wiped them down more frequently – it’s a quicker process. The same principles apply – if you’re past due on your cleaning, your hygienist may need to take more time and care to get your gum and bone health on track.
The more time and attention your cleaning requires, the higher your cost on the range quoted above. This is an incredibly important step in the process of safeguarding your dental and overall health. Good oral hygiene on your behalf is always the foundation of good dental care. Skipping recommended cleanings can lead to much more invasive and more expensive procedures down the road (i.e. extractions, implants, etc.)
Basic vs. Deep Cleanings
Would you buy or build a home on a foundation that wasn’t solid? Beautiful teeth in unhealthy bone have a foundation problem. The way your hygienist diagnoses the need for a basic vs. deep cleaning will be through measuring the gum pocket around each tooth and looking at the height of your bone around your teeth on your x-rays.
If you have not received regular cleanings, have inadequate home care, or have genetic predispositions to gum and bone disease, your gum tissue may become inflamed as the bacteria nestles underneath your gum line. These issues will require deep cleaning rather than just basic care.
From here it’s a self-propelling process. Your gum is inflamed, bacteria is trapped under the irritated gum line, and your toothbrush can’t get to it so it calcifies (hardens) and irritates your gum more. This process can result in damage to the bone around your tooth.
As this happens your gum pockets become deeper because the bottom of the pocket gets deeper as the bone is lost. In conjunction, the ‘top’ of the pocket rises up more because your gums become more swollen and inflamed. This phenomenon is a chronic infection that puts you at risk for things like heart issues, lung problems (like pneumonia), diabetic complications, etc.
If periodontal disease is diagnosed, your dentist may recommend deeper cleanings as an initial step in getting your gum and bone health back on track. After the deep cleanings, think about the baseboards analogy – you’ll likely need more frequent cleanings called ‘periodontal maintenance’ (every 3-4 months) to maintain that health.
Periodontal maintenance is more expensive than a standard prophylaxis cleaning because it goes a little deeper below the gum line because people with periodontal disease are more susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup. If you carry dental insurance, most basic cleaning and exam fees are generally covered, but the cost of periodontal maintenance can be an out of pocket cost.
Dental crowns are used to restore the look and functionality of a damaged tooth. The type of material used is based on the strength of the patient’s bite, aesthetic demands, and placement of the tooth; however, there is less price variation among the materials used compared with the underlying reason the tooth needs a crown. The main fluctuation in price for crowns is due to the reason behind needing the crown.
Three Reasons You Need Crowns:
Fracture-The tooth has become cracked or broken. The tooth still has a good foundation but is in need of something to protect it. Teeth often need diligent monitoring after a crack or break as these situations can cause nerve or bone issues long term. The sooner you crown a tooth after a fracture or break is diagnosed, the more predictable the outcome.
Extensive Decay or filling material – 50% or more of the tooth’s structure is filling material or decayed. If decayed, a ‘core build-up‘ may also be necessary to make the tooth an appropriate shape and size to place the crown on top of. The need for a core build-up is an additional fee that often goes hand and hand with crowns.
A root canal has been performed- A tooth had a cavity that reached the tooth’s nerve space or an abscess or injury occurred requiring root canal therapy (a nerve ablation of your tooth). To do a root canal a significant amount of tooth structure has to be removed which leaves the tooth vulnerable to breaking. A crown helps protect the tooth from breaking.
It is important to note, the root canal, core build-up, and crown are three different procedures and incur three different prices.
Root Canals vs Extractions
Root Canal Therapy is needed when the inside of the tooth (the pulp chamber) becomes infected, inflamed, or dies. Common conditions leading up to this procedure include deep decay, a crack in a tooth, an existing deep filling, or injury.
If decay is significant enough to involve the nerve of your tooth, the tooth will require root canal therapy or you will need to extract the tooth. While an extraction is sometimes viewed by patients as a simple, more affordable option, this is not necessarily the case.
The upfront costs of root canal therapy are higher but the additional procedural costs associated with extraction can accumulate quickly. This is because an extraction ideally requires a replacement tooth to maintain your mouth’s long-term functionality (i.e. bridges, implants, dentures). These subsequent procedures to replace a tooth can easily exceed the investment of saving your tooth with a root canal. Extractions are more invasive procedures and surgical in nature.
If a tooth can be saved, a root canal is a predictable, less invasive option. 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.
The biggest fluctuation in price for a root canal depends on where in the mouth the tooth needing the root canal is located. The variation occurs because of the amounts of roots and procedural difficulty associated with each tooth. Dental coding puts root canal therapy in three buckets:
Avg. National Costs*
$300 – $1,500
$400 – $1,800
$500 – $2,000
*price ranges reflect National Averages and are not indicative of Commonwealth Dentistry prices
Pricing for dentures varies greatly because dentures are a personal decision that needs to be discussed in detail with your doctor. Many see dentures as a relatively quick or easy process, but the truth is, there are multiple steps to get the appropriate fit.
Factors that Affect Dentures
There are a variety of factors that affect dentures. If a patient has no existing teeth and a good bone structure – making dentures can be a straightforward process. Some offices offer dentures that can be ready in one visit, however, depending on the methodology of the doctor, sometimes multiple fitting appointments are needed. If the patient has poor bone structure implants may need to be placed in order to support the dentures.
Another scenario would be that a patient has existing teeth that need to be removed. This situation is more complicated and has additional costs. First, the patient would incur fees for extracting the teeth. Next, the patient must make a decision about what to do in order for the mouth to heal.
An immediate denture is made so that the patient does not have to go without teeth. As your gum and bone heal, the shape of your bone will change and your denture will need to be adjusted and refitted several times. After healing (6-12 months), the denture will need a permanent refit done by a dental lab or a new denture may be necessary if the healing was dramatic.
Cost of Dentures
The entire denture process is an investment in time and money. Personalized dentures that fit properly make a world of difference in the long run. Dentures are not a place you want to take shortcuts because it will result in more problems down the road. Poorly fitting dentures will be an aggravation and may be difficult to wear.
Dental Implants can be straightforward as long as you follow the advice from your doctor. A dental implant is a great option for patients missing teeth because it replaces both the tooth and the root. Dental implants are built to last (failure rate of less than 5%), so while the process of getting an implant exactly right is lengthy, the implant itself is a permanent fixture and with proper care will last for decades to come.
What is included in a typical Dental Implant?
Titanium post that replaces a tooth root
Connection between the Dental Implant and Crown
Replacement ‘Tooth’ that is connected to the Implant Abutment
The average cost estimated for implant, abutment, and crowns is around $4,263.
The first step in receiving an implant is a consultation with your doctor. Here the doctor will determine if you are a candidate for an implant. You will receive X-rays and map out a personalized plan.
If a tooth needs to be removed, a bone graft and protective covering (a membrane) may be recommended to prepare the bone for a future implant. A 3-4 month healing process is generally necessary for this process. The cost of the grafting is not included in the implant price range quoted above.
Next, the dental implant can be placed. This is a precise process that replaces the root of the tooth. Depending on how dense the bone around the implant is on the day of placement, a 3-6 month healing period is given for the implant to integrate and attach to your bone. During this time, the tooth will still visually be missing and the implant will be healing below the gum-line.
Once the implant has adequate healing time, an impression of the implant is taken. This allows the lab to make an abutment (connection from implant to crown) and a crown to place on top of the implant. There will be several appointments to make sure that everything fits exactly as it should. This is necessary to ensure the optimal fit and comfort of the tooth.
When it comes to pricing, it is important to remember that the abutment (connector) and crown are a separate fee from the implant. To summarize the fees that may be incurred during implant therapy: The extraction of a tooth, the grafting of the extraction socket, the dental implant, the implant abutment, and the implant crown.
Other procedures sometimes needed as part of Dental Implant Therapy
Removal of a tooth
Cadaver, animal or synthetic bone that is used to add bone where a tooth has been removed
Sinus Lift or ‘Bump’
Placing or moving bone to the floor of the sinus to help hold an implant for someone’s upper back teeth/tooth.
What We Promise:
A Pre-procedure Quote:
Our patients are provided with a thoughtful treatment plan. We discuss the “worst-case scenario” cost-wise to avoid any surprises. We do our best to explain all the ins and outs of a procedure. If at any point you have questions about recommended treatment, please reach out to our team.
Try Our In-House Dental Plan- The Commonwealth Care Membership:
We know that dental costs can be overwhelming especially for those without insurance. Did you know we offer our own Dental Membership Plan? Commonwealth Care Membership is a discounted annual dental membership plan for 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.
A Variety of Payment Options:
We offer a variety of payment options including payment plans and Care Credit. We will always listen to any concerns you have regarding payment and do our best to formulate a plan that works for you.
Various Sedation Methods:
Please know that if you feel overwhelmed or nervous about any procedure, we offer a variety of sedation techniques to put patients at ease.
Open and Honest Conversations:
At Commonwealth Dentistry we consider everyone an extension of our family and deliver an experience that exceeds expectations. If you have any concerns, we encourage open dialogue to address any issues. If you are interested in learning more reach out to one of our offices that best serves you.
What People Are Saying About Commonwealth Dentistry
“My family has seen the great dentists and staff at Commonwealth Dentistry for the past six years. Everyone we have seen has been caring, thorough, and professional. I would recommend Commonwealth Dentistry to anybody who appreciates professional health care and wants a hassle-free experience.”
Michael M.Midlothian, VA
“I really like the team at Commonwealth Dentistry...they are like family! Thanks for taking such good care of your patients!”
John H.Colonial Heights, VA
“I can't say that going to the dentist is on my list of favorite things to do! But, I can say that the professional and friendly folks at Commonwealth Dentistry make it 'painless' in more ways than one! Never a long wait. Always a pleasant atmosphere. Treatment is gentle. I'm told what's going on as they check. And, there is the goody bag before I go out the door!”
Kity C.Richmond, VA
“The entire staff is so nice and professional. No one loves going to the dentist but the team at the Forest Hill location makes it a pleasurable experience. Really happy I found this dentist!”
Sarah S.Sept 2020
“My family and I have been patients of the Kenbridge office of Commonwealth Dentistry for years. The staff, dental hygienists, and dentists here go the extra mile to personally connect with their patients so that we feel completely at ease and can rest in total confidence that we are receiving the absolute best in dental care. Our two sons have pain-free, anxiety-free visits every time we come. I highly recommend Commonwealth Dentistry for families looking for a personalized, relaxed experience while obtaining high-quality dental care.”
Cristyl W.Aug 2020
“I have been with Commonwealth dentistry ever since the 90s. No matter what technician that I get to see, they are all lovely, my teeth are always clean. I have never had any bad experiences with them.”
Samantha J.Sept 2020
“All of the staff are friendly and professional. They are taking every precaution, to keep us safe from the COVID virus. Dr. Woodard fully explains procedures before starting, she is a wonderful dentist, knowledgeable, caring, and gentle. I wouldn’t go to any other practice.”
Sheila J.Sept 2020
“I’ve been coming to Commonwealth Dentistry for over a decade now and let me tell you I haven’t had any regrets. This is one of the best dentistry I have been to and let me tell you why. The availability to schedule an appointment is easy to do, they show high level of respect and professionalism, and last but not least they keep up with my PEARLY WHITES. I give this place 2 thumbs up!”
Akeem L.Sept 2020
Welcome to Commonwealth Dentistry! New patients are always welcome. Come show us your smile and experience how friendly, gentle, and relaxing a trip to the dentist can be!