South Austin Dentist Challenges Your Knowledge of Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth usually erupt in the late teens or early twenties. Often, they come in at the wrong angle and can cause serious dental issues. Sometimes they remain impacted, which can lead to potential infection. For this reason, many people have their wisdom teeth removed. Dr. Steven Van Wicklen, your South Austin dentist, wants to know just how wise you are about wisdom teeth.

How Wise Are You?

Q1. True or false – Partially erupted wisdom teeth should be left alone.

Q2. True or false – Wisdom teeth are unnecessary in modern times.

Q3. True or false – Third molars are called “wisdom” teeth because you are considered to be of a wise age when they erupt. (more…)

Your South Austin Dentist Offers Tips for Seniors

Dr. Steven Van Wicklen has practiced dentistry in Austin, TX, for over 25 years.  His emphasis on quality care, with a sincere focus on patient comfort and rapport, is just as evident now as it was back in 1985. With his friendly, professional staff and the welcoming environment that his office conveys, it’s no surprise that your South Austin dentist has been recognized by the Austin Chronicle as the “Best of Austin.”

Today, we would like to discuss the special dental issues faced by our senior patients, and offer some tips for maintaining good oral health.

Choosing the Right Foods

Everyone knows that avoiding foods high in sugar, such as sodas and candy, is an excellent way to avoid cavities.  However, not many folks realize that some foods are capable of warding off (and even preventing) cavities. A diet rich in nutritious foods such as meats, beans, fruits, grains, and vegetables is not only great for your smile, but it’s also excellent for your overall health.


Why Coconut Oil Might Be Good for Your Teeth

A presentation given recently at the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn conference is the latest in a score of studies aimed at discovering unconventional methods of addressing cavity prevention. The study outlined the ways in which enzyme-modified, or digested, coconut oil might join the ranks in the war against tooth decay. Already known to be a general antibiotic when digested, coconut oil has now been revealed to destroy the bacteria that cause tooth decay, potentially opening doors for its future incorporation into dental products. (more…)

All about Invisalign from Your South Austin Dentist

There was a time, not that long ago, when the only option for straightening crooked or misaligned teeth was classic bracket-and-wire braces. Over the years, a variety of clear and color options for the brackets and rubber bands used in orthodontic practices became available, but the fact remained that when you had braces on your teeth, they were obvious and distracting.

These days, there are new options for righting misaligned teeth, such as Invisalign. Today, your South Austin dentist, Dr. Steven Van Wicklen, would like to discuss the advantages of Invisalign, how the treatment works, and whether or not you are a candidate for this innovative procedure.

Candidates for Invisalign

In general, Invisalign is the right choice for patients with gapped, crowded, or otherwise misaligned teeth. A consultation with Dr. VanWicklen will reveal whether you are a prime candidate for Invisalign.


South Austin Dentist: Endodontics and Root Canal Therapy

What is endodontics?

Endodontics is a branch of dentistry dedicated to dental pulp. Pulp is the soft tissue inside the crown of a tooth. Dental pulp produces dentin, sends nutrients to tissue, and senses pressure and extreme temperature through a network of nerves and blood vessels. The pulp is housed in the root canal.

What is endodontic therapy?

Endodontics typically addresses diseases that affect dental pulp. Endodontic therapy, better known as root canal therapy, treats infected dental pulp. Root canal therapy removes dental pulp when it becomes diseased in order to prevent tooth loss. After the infected pulp has been excised, the root canal is shaped and sterilized, and filled with dental materials that protect the tooth from further infection. (more…)

Poor Oral Health Affects Performance of Children in School

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health argues poor oral health may contribute to bad academic performance of children in school, highlighting the importance of dental care during childhood. The Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC study looked at the correlation between the oral health and academic achievement records of close to 1,500 disadvantaged children in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Results of the Study

According to researchers, 73% of disadvantaged children in Los Angeles have dental caries, or tooth decay. Students reporting tooth pain were four times more likely than those without to have a grade point average (GPA) below 2.8. In addition, the study looked at how poor oral health correlates with increased absences from school. Researchers found that for every six days a child was absent, two of them could be attributed to dental problems. That means thirty-three percent of total days missed by students was because of complications with their oral health.


South Austin Dentist Discusses the Harm of Smoking

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, those who smoke are twice as likely to develop poor oral health. That is not a surprising statistic when you consider the number of oral health issues related to smoking. Some believe smoking only leads to the cosmetic issue of stained teeth and embarrassing bad breath. However, smoking also causes gum disease and oral cancer, both of which are quite serious problems.

Biofilms and Harmful Bacteria

One of the reasons smoking is so bad for you is that it kills the healthy bacteria in your mouth, leaving your gums and teeth more susceptible to the harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Shortly after you were born, biofilms, or thin layers of bacteria, formed in your mouth. These communities of bacteria help keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out, meaning they prevent harmful bacteria from proliferating inside your oral cavity. Because smoking kills the healthy bacteria living in these biofilms, a smoker’s mouth is more susceptible to a host of oral health issues. (more…)

Five Foods That Promote Good Oral Health

One of the best ways to fight cavities is to practice good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day. You should also visit your dentist every six-months for a dental checkup and cleaning. Another way you can deter cavities and promote healthy gums and teeth is by eating smart.

Calcium builds strong teeth and sugar attracts harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. This means, you should eat plenty of dairy products, like cheese, and stay away from an excessive amount of sweets. What you may not realize, however, is that there are many other factors in your diet that can support good dental health. (more…)

Is A Cavity-Free Future Possible with the Keep 32 Molecule?

Imagine a world with no toothaches, no need for fillings, and no guilt (as far as teeth go) with eating a cupcake. That’s the world two scientists—one from Yale University, and one from Universidad de Santiago in Chile—envisioned when they discovered the Keep 32 molecule. This molecule is touted with the ability to destroy the bacteria that causes cavities in one minute. Our South Austin dentist, Dr. Steven Van Wicklen explains more about this new breakthrough in dental science and how it works for your oral health.

Keep 32 Proactively Fights Cavities

Throughout the years, cavity-causing bacteria, or streptococcus mutans, have been an evasive villain to catch. While there have been plenty of attempts to defeat the bacteria itself, many preventive dentistry treatments take a much more defensive approach. Fluoride, for example, strengthens tooth enamel against acid-forming bacteria, however, fluoride treatments do not kill S. mutans.

How Tooth Decay Progresses

The Keep 32 molecule, discovered by Jose Cordova and Erich Astudillo, takes a proactive approach to prevention by eliminating the source of cavities. S.mutans begin the process of tooth decay by metabolizing sugar and forming acid. The acid wears away tooth enamel until, the infection reaches the dentin. This soft layer of your tooth transmits the infection to the tooth pulp, which can result in extreme toothache and the need for a root canal. Further infection can cause a dental abscess, or even tooth loss.

Keep 32 Protects Positive Bacteria

Another advantage of the Keep 32 molecule is that, unlike some mouthwashes, the Keep 32 molecule leaves positive bacteria intact. These positive bacteria can also protect your teeth and gums by forming a barrier against pathogens. Microbiologists have found that our mouths are much like forests, with several hundred types of bacteria living in different regions of the mouth. You can think of the Keep 32 molecule as more of a conscientious hunter of S. mutans rather than a forest fire. (more…)

Test Your Knowledge of Preventive Dentistry

Dental Examination Quiz from South Austin Dentist

Q1. True or false: Brushing with a hard bristled toothbrush can actually do more harm than good for your smile.


Q2. A dental checkup includes which of the following?

A. Cavity detection

B. Gum disease risk assessment

C. Oral cancer screening

D. All of the above


Q3. True or false: A dental checkup is only necessary if you have a toothache.


Q4. Which of the following are reasons for a dental X-ray?

A. Cavity diagnosis

B. Checking tooth alignment

C. Examining jawbone health

D. All of the above (more…)