Why Your South Austin Dentist Doesn’t Think Your Tongue Piercing Is Cool

Thinking of Getting an Oral Piercing in Austin?

At our South Austin dental office, we believe in keeping Austin weird. We love our eclectic community and appreciate our unique patients; however, Dr. Van Wicklen has a word of warning for patients with oral piercings. In fact, you may be surprised to find that your mouth metal could be more painful in the long run than it was to have it pierced in the first place. Here are a few cautions from your South Austin dentist when it comes to oral piercings.

Tongue Piercings Can Create Craze Lines

What are craze lines? These hairline fractures in the enamel of your tooth are caused by tooth trauma. Your enamel is susceptible to these tiny cracks from teeth grinding, biting your nails, using your teeth as tools, and chewing on hard objects. When tongue piercings clash against your teeth, it can result in these vertical fractures called craze lines. The tooth cracks collect staining and become embarrassing smile imperfections overtime.

Lip Piercings Can Cause Gum Recession

In a study published by the Journal of Periodontology, researchers from Loma Linda and Ohio State dentistry schools suggested that 35% of participants with oral piercings experienced gum recession. They also suggested that lip piercings with longer barbells caused even more receding gums than other piercings because the metal could more easily reach the gingival tissue. Gum recession can lead to a variety of oral health issues including gum disease, extreme tooth sensitivity, and other infections.

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We’re All About Mouthguards this National Safety Month

Active Austin Residents: Consider Mouth Protection

Did you know that in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, a single hockey player lost seven teeth to a dental injury in one game? The missing tooth grin may be a signature hockey look, but research suggests knocked out teeth are not isolated to the National Hockey League, or even to contact sports. Our South Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen explains the importance of mouth protection in any sport.

From rock climbing to casual paddle boarding, Austin and the Central Texas areas offer countless ways to be active. While you’re strapping on your helmet, knee pads, shin guards, or other bodily protection, consider this: facial injuries account for almost half of all sports injuries. So why not protect your mouth?

South Austin Dentist Offers Custom-Fabricated Mouthguards

For many people, mouthguards evoke negative feelings because they may feel uncomfortable, restrict deep  breathing, or look clunky. Fortunately, our South Austin dental office gives you no excuse not to wear a mouthguard. Dr. Van Wicklen offers custom-fabricated mouth protection that not only fits your mouth but also fits your needs.

At your next dental visit, Dr. Van Wicklen can take a precise mold of your occlusion so that your mouthguard fits like a glove. These oral appliances do not rely on uncomfortably clenching your jaw to stay in place, rather they fit optimally over your top teeth. This allows unrestricted air flow and maximum comfort. Most importantly, our mouthguards offer complete protection against facial trauma, biting down on your tongue, and blunt force to your smile.

Preventive Dentistry in South Austin

If you would like to protect your pearly whites for years to come with preventive dental care, contact Dr. Van Wicklen. You can reach our Austin, Texas dental office at (512) 448-3131. We take care of patients throughout the South Austin area.

Dental Technology in South Austin

South Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, believes that every dental visit should be a comfortable and pleasant experience. He welcomes patients to watch television and listen to music while our friendly and knowledgeable staff takes care of their dental needs. To provide the best care possible, our office utilizes various dental technologies, which Dr. Van Wicklen describes below.

Digital X-Rays

X-rays allow dentists to better evaluate your oral health by detecting problems and issues that the naked eye cannot see. In our South Austin dental office, we use digital X-rays, the safer and more precise alternative to traditional film X-rays. Not only do digital X-rays require 90% less radiation than traditional X-rays, they are also more environmentally sound because they involve no film development chemicals or plastic. Additionally, digital X-rays produce an instantaneous and detailed image that Dr. Van Wicklen can easily store and transfer.

Intraoral Cameras

Our intraoral cameras take photographs inside the mouth, which provide visual aids for patient education, as well as detailed images for treatment planning. Once a photograph is taken, Dr. Van Wicklen can show you the enlarged image on a computer screen. He’ll point out his findings, answer your questions, and work with you to determine a practical treatment plan for you. (more…)

Oral Cancer FAQs from Your South Austin Dentist

This past Sunday was National Cancer Survivors’ Day, an annual celebration of life observed on the first Sunday in June. Cancer can affect any part of the body, but Dr. Van Wicklen would like to share information with you about oral cancer. In the United States, this disease claims a life every hour of every day. To protect yourself from oral cancer, you need to know the facts.

What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Symptoms of oral cancer include swelling of the lips and gums, red or white patches inside the mouth (often beneath the tongue), chronic sore throat, and difficulty chewing and swallowing. The mouth and throat, however, are not the only areas that oral cancer can affect. Sometimes, patients with this disease also experience ear pain and extreme weight loss. If you notice any of these symptoms, pay a visit to your South Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, as soon as possible for a thorough evaluation.

Who is at Risk for Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can affect anyone, but certain individuals are more prone to developing it than others. Men over the age of 50 fall into the high-risk category. Smoking, using tobacco products, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, staying in the sun too long without sunscreen, and having a family history of cancer are also risk factors. (more…)

Wisdom Teeth Extraction in South Austin

Wisdom teeth, the third set of molars that generally erupt in a patient’s late teens or early twenties, can be either helpful or harmful, depending on their alignment when they grow in. Often, wisdom teeth emerge at the wrong angle, causing oral health problems that necessitate their removal. Your South Austin dentist, Dr. Steven Van Wicklen, explains the basics of wisdom teeth extraction.

To Remove or Not to Remove? That is the Question.

If wisdom teeth grow in correct alignment, they can actually be a valuable asset to the mouth. However, that is often not the case, and  removal is recommended when third molars cause problems with the surrounding teeth, nerves, and jawbone. The removal of wisdom teeth has become a slightly controversial subject with many dentists, due to the fact that some people opt to have their wisdom teeth removed as a cautionary measure, even if they’re not causing problems. Certain dentists believe that removing asymptomatic wisdom teeth is just putting patients through unnecessary surgery. Ultimately though, it comes down to the personal preference of the patient. (more…)

Arthritis Awareness Month: Dental Health and Arthritis

During these first few weeks of May, have you been wearing more blue?  If not, consider making a change to your wardrobe because it’s Arthritis Awareness Month and people nationwide are being urged to “Go blue for arthritis!” by the Arthritis National Research Foundation, a group that has been funding research to find a cure for arthritis for over forty years. Something people may not often think about when it comes to arthritis is its relation to dental health.  Dr. Steven Van Wicklen answers some questions below that arthritic patients may have regarding this correlation.

 “With my arthritis, holding a toothbrush is difficult. What can I do?”

This is not uncommon.  For many people with arthritis, the simple act of holding a toothbrush and flossing can be very difficult. Because of this, many people neglect their oral hygiene. Do not let that happen to you. Try an electric toothbrush because, although it still needs to be held, it performs much of the necessary cleaning motion all by itself. A floss holder is also helpful.  Again, it will not cut out all of the work, but it can definitely alleviate some of the frustration.  (more…)

Celebrate Mother’s Day in Austin with a Smile Makeover

Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend, and while any mom would appreciate a heartfelt card or bouquet of flowers, south Austin dentist Dr. Steven Van Wicklen wants to encourage you to think outside of the box this Mother’s Day. How? By giving the special lady in your life the gift of a beautiful smile.

Cosmetic Dentistry in South Austin

At our Austin dentist office, we offer several cosmetic dental procedures that are sure to make Mom smile as big, brightly, and confidently as possible.

These procedures include:

  • Cosmetic Bonding: Cosmetic bonding provides an immediate and conservative solution for teeth that are chipped, permanently stained, cracked, gapped, and uneven. During bonding, Dr. Van Wicklen uses composite resin, which is a tooth-colored putty-like substance, to add structure and uniformity to the tooth in question. (more…)

What are your Cosmetic Dental Needs?

What do you want to change about your smile? According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the most common answer to that question is “whiter teeth.” Fortunately, Dr. Van Wicklen offers a full range of cosmetic services to improve your smile. Take this self-assessment to determine the treatment you need.

1. What color are your teeth? If your teeth are yellow, gray, brown, or black, Dr. Van Wicklen can remove stains with professional teeth whitening. However, if you have stains that just can’t be erased, we may suggest hiding your discolorations with porcelain veneers or cosmetic bonding.

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South Austin Dentist Answers Root Canal FAQs

Do root canals hurt?

The myth of painful root canals has been dispelled with modern technology, minimally invasive methods, and local anesthesia. The modern root canal procedure is typically not any more uncomfortable than receiving a filling. Our South Austin dentist will work diligently to offer you comfortable dentistry that is as minimally invasive as possible. Customer satisfaction is our goal, so if you need extra measures to help you feel more comfortable, just inform one of our friendly team members.

Why do I need a root canal?

Tooth decay starts with a buildup of bacteria which turns into plaque. The plaque combines with sugar and saliva to create acid. The formation of acid wears away your tooth enamel, making your teeth vulnerable to infection. The decay starts as small dental caries, which develop into bigger cavities. If the cavities are untreated, the decay reaches deeper into the tooth. Once it has infected the internal structure of your tooth, a root canal is necessary to eliminate the toothache and prevent an abscess.

Why do internally infected teeth feel like severe toothaches?

While some internally infected teeth fly under the radar, most teeth with internal decay result in toothache. Often, this is a person’s first signal that they need a root canal. The reason you experience toothache is because the infection has reached the pulp center. Inside the middle of the tooth is the pulp chamber, which houses the tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and living tissue. When this part of your tooth is damaged, it sends pain signals to your brain. Root canal treatment removes the infected tooth pulp and replaces it with a filling. (more…)

FAQs for Dental Implants in Austin

What makes up a dental implant?

A dental implant is made of two parts. A biocompatible, titanium rod allows the implant to become fused to the jawbone securely. The other half of the artificial tooth is the porcelain crown, which is the only exposed portion of the dental implant. This part of the restoration is made to look like a natural tooth. The dyed porcelain mimics the coloration, shape, and function of a healthy tooth.

What are the benefits of a dental implant?

  • Dental implants offer better security with eating, talking, and laughing than dentures.
  • Implants can be cleaned and maintained easily.
  • These artificial teeth match the feeling of natural teeth more closely than any other dental restoration.
  • The rod implanted into the jawbone prevents alveolar deterioration and keeps adjacent teeth from drifting out of place.
  • The porcelain crown has a similar, semi-translucent quality of natural teeth, making the artifical tooth discrete.

How long do dental implants last?

Dental implants can last a lifetime with proper dental care. Brushing and flossing at least two times a day will keep your dental implant and your entire mouth healthy. Factors like gum disease, oral cancer, an adjacent abscessed tooth, and other severe oral infections can contribute to the failure of a dental implant.

How do you clean a dental implant?

You can maintain your dental implant with the same oral hygiene routine you use for your natural teeth. Scheduling regular dental cleanings and checkups is also important for the health of your tooth restoration. (more…)