Why You Should Visit Your Austin Dentist Every Six Months

Most people are intimately familiar with the tenets of basic oral hygiene—brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once (preferably before bedtime), and visit your dentist every six months for a regular dental checkup and cleaning.  Most people also know that skipping the toothbrush and floss isn’t a good thing, though many do it anyway from time to time. Yet, what if your smile got a clean bill of health at your last visit, and you’ve diligently brushed and flossed, sometimes more than twice a day? If your teeth are spotless and don’t hurt in the least, isn’t okay to skip the dental visit once in a while? The answer is no, and your Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, explains why.

Isn’t Brushing and Flossing Enough?

The purpose of brushing and flossing every day is control the buildup of dental plaque—the sticky, colorless stuff that sometimes sticks to your teeth, especially along your gum line. Plaque is more than just uncomfortable; it’s dangerous. At least, the over-600 different kinds of oral bacteria that form it are. (more…)

Your Austin Cosmetic Dentist Has the Tools to Improve Your Smile

There was a time when dentistry’s main concern was treating decayed teeth and extracting severely damage and useless ones. In time, replacing those missing teeth became as important a focus as treating those present, and today, making your smile as beautiful as it is healthy has become a focus of its own within the dental field. Cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the myriad blemishes and imperfections that can mar your smile’s beauty, even when they don’t threaten your smile’s health. Your Austin cosmetic dentist, Dr. Steven Van Wicklen, discusses some of the more frequently-used tools in the quest to perfect the smiles of our patients.


Tooth stains can form naturally from your food and your drink and as you grow older, and teeth-whitening has become one of the most commonly requested cosmetic dental procedures today. In fact, the desire for whiter teeth is great enough that you can purchase a wide variety of whitening products from your local grocery store or pharmacy. However, these over-the-counter options can do little more than lighten the faintest stains. For more satisfying results, Dr. Van Wicklen offers in-office teeth-whitening treatments that can brighten your smile up to ten shades in as little as an hour. (more…)

The Beauty of Invisalign Clear Braces, with Your Austin Dentist

Crooked teeth can make any smile look less than appealing, but convincing older teens and adults to wear conventional metal braces can sometimes be a challenge. As you grow older and more professional, you may become more concerned about the image you project, and your level of confidence greatly affects your professional and personal interactions. Unfortunately, malocclusion (crooked teeth) is more than a mere cosmetic issue, and the choice to straighten your teeth or not has resounding consequences on the state of your oral health. Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice your present confidence to straighten your teeth. With Invisalign clear braces from your Austin dentist, you can enjoy a straighter smile without announcing your treatment to your peers.

What are Invisalign Clear Braces?

The secret to Invisalign lies in its approach to orthodontic treatment. Instead of the traditional bracket-and-wire apparatus that are designed to move your teeth through tension, Invisalign utilizes a series of clear acrylic aligners to accomplish the same purpose. (more…)

Austin Dentist Explains the Benefits of Dental Implants

Tooth loss is traumatic. Your smile looks and operates its best when all of your teeth are present, and losing even one can throw your entire bite off balance and have other negative impacts on your oral health. Luckily, there are myriad options for you to replace your lost teeth, whether you’ve lost one, some, most, or all of them. In fact, the art and science of dental care has advanced enough that we can now replace your teeth’s roots as well as the visible portions (crowns), offering a total tooth replacement that’s as secure as your natural, healthy teeth on their roots. To underscore the importance and benefits of placing your dental prosthesis on one or more dental implants, your Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, explains the modern marvels, how they can replace your entire tooth, and how they help prevent the continuing destruction that follows tooth loss.

Consequences of Tooth Loss

A gapped smile is only one result of tooth loss (and one of the more obvious ones). By placing the appropriate number of replacement teeth in the empty spaces, you can help restore your smile’s beauty and its ability to eat and enunciate properly. What you may not know, however, is that your healthy tooth roots are embedded in your jawbone and help keep it healthy through stimulation when you bite and chew. Losing a tooth root can result in the slow deterioration of your jawbone, as the lack of stimulation equals a diminished supply of nutrients, since your jaw no longer has that tooth to support. Over time, your weakened jaw can lose its ability to retain the rest of your teeth, leading to more tooth loss and faster jawbone deterioration. (more…)

Austin Dentist Asks: Is Your Toothache an Emergency?

A toothache is no trivial matter. In fact, over 25% of working adults in America admit to having taken time off of work to deal with one or more troublesome teeth. A tooth can hurt to varying degrees, and can be caused by a number of different, sometimes unrelated, factors. Therefore, before finding relief, you must find the reason behind your toothache, and in some cases, the pain may warn you that danger is imminent and time is of the essence. Your Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, explores the danger your smile faces when a toothache indicates an emergency.

Reasons for a Toothache, Emergency and Otherwise

If your tooth hurts because it’s been damaged by a traumatic injury (i.e., crack, chip, fracture, or break), then the reason may not be such a mystery (if your tooth has suffered damage, find out how you can save it by reading our article about handling dental emergencies). However, if your tooth is causing you discomfort and you’re not sure why, then chances are that a dental disease or other underlying issue must first be addressed. (more…)

Healthy Smile Tips from Your Austin General Dentist

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is not a difficult process, but it does require diligence on your part, as well as regular professional maintenance. While brushing and flossing your teeth are essential, simply running your brush across your teeth and flossing only when you feel something between your teeth will not prove very effective at preventing dental diseases. To help you get the most out of your daily hygiene routine, Austin general dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, offers these tips for keeping your smile healthy.

A Little Diligence Goes a Long Way

  • The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once, preferably before bedtime to keep your mouth clean while you sleep. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush with the ADA seal of approval on its packaging. (more…)

Austin Dentist’s Dental Crown FAQs

An interesting fact about your teeth is that they don’t repair or rebuild themselves when damaged like other parts of your body. If a tooth’s structure is damaged, you have to proactively repair it and protect it from bacterial infection and further injury. Dental crowns are among the most beneficial tools in the pursuit of dental restoration, and thanks to the impressive advancements of today’s dentistry, you can now have a protective crown custom-crafted and skillfully placed over your tooth in less time than ever before. Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, introduces you to today’s dental crowns by answering common questions about the innovative dental restorations.

All About Dental Crowns

What’s the purpose of a dental crown?

Shaped to mimic the visible part of your tooth, dental crowns are often referred to as caps because they cover and protect the top part of your tooth. Typical applications include right after a root canal procedure where a significant amount of tooth structure is removed, or to cover a cracked/fractured tooth to prevent it from breaking apart completely. Unfortunately, if a crack extends to your tooth’s roots, a dental crown will not be able to save it, and it will likely need extraction to prevent harming the surrounding gums and jawbone. (more…)

When Gum Disease Grows Ambitious

As the leading cause of adult tooth loss in America, you could argue that gum disease’s effect on your oral health makes it one of the most ambitious known oral illnesses. While you might be correct, the damage that gum disease causes inside your mouth may only be a fraction of the destruction that it can wreak on your wellbeing. A growing body of research from across the globe supports the theory that the condition of your oral health can influence your risk factors for certain systemic complications, and gum disease is a major component of this oral-systemic theory. To help raise your awareness of the profound dangers of gum disease, your Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, explores how a disease in your mouth can affect the rest of your body.

The Devil’s in the Details

The key to gum disease’s influence lies in its inception. Though it can become a major problem, gum disease typically begins on a microbial level. On average, a healthy human mouth contains over 600 different kinds of bacteria. When they multiply and congregate, these germs form the sticky biofilm called plaque that coats your teeth and gums every once in a while. (more…)

Dental Emergency? Don’t Panic, Call Your Austin Dentist

By their definitions, dental emergencies are unexpected. Because they often involve structural damage to some degree, dental emergencies can pose a threat to your entire your oral health depending on the severity of the situation. If you diligently practice your oral hygiene routine in the hopes of preventing any damage to your oral health, then a dental emergency that threatens your smile can be even more unsettling. Luckily, you are not helpless in the face of a dental emergency, and with these tips from your Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, you may be able to keep your smile in one piece.

Take Immediate Action

  • Sudden painToothaches can stem from a number of issues, including tooth decay and gum disease as well as traumatic damage. If your tooth becomes painful all of a sudden, check to see if there is any visible damage. If not, then floss around the tooth carefully to remove any food debris that may be lodged. Call Dr. Van Wicklen as soon as possible to schedule an appointment, and use an ice pack or cold compress to reduce the discomfort. (more…)

Thorough Dental Cleanings in Austin

Last week, we discussed the importance of supplementing your daily hygiene routine with regular visits to your family dentist every six months (or sooner, if recommended). You may know that brushing and flossing your teeth every day helps control the buildup of dental plaque, which is comprised almost entirely of various oral bacteria, some of which pose a clear and present danger to your oral health. If you adhere to this routine every day, at least twice a day, then you’re probably fairly confident that your smile is healthy. Unfortunately, nobody’s perfect, and even the strictest tooth brusher can miss a spot here and there. Luckily, attending your regular dental cleanings and exams can help protect your smile from such mistakes, as Austin dentist, Dr. Van Wicklen, explains.

Regular Professional Maintenance

If the smallest amount of plaque is allowed to remain on your teeth for more than 48 hours, it calcifies (hardens) into tartar. Unlike its gentler predecessor, tartar does not dissolve in water and cannot be removed with your conventional toothbrush or dental floss. At your professional dental cleaning, our talented hygienists will carefully remove residual dental plaque and tartar to prevent the damage they can cause, including tooth decay and gum disease. (more…)