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Posts for: April, 2015

By Timothy T. Bui, D.D.S., Inc.
April 23, 2015
Category: Oral Health

Professional basketball player Lamar Odom is sometimes known as “the candyman” because of his notorious fondness for sweets. But when his sweet tooth finally caught up with him — in the form of a mouthful of decayed teeth — the six-foot-ten-inch, 230-pound hoops star admitted that he had been avoiding treatment… because he was afraid of going to the dentist!

It took two Kardashians (Khloe and Kim) and a painful toothache to finally persuade Odom to sit in the chair. Once he did, it was found that he needed a root canal, a wisdom tooth extraction, and several fillings. Yet the fretful forward sailed through the whole set of procedures in a single visit, and walked out with a big smile afterward. How did his dentists make that happen?

Put it down to the “magic” of sedation dentistry. With anxiety-relieving medications that can be delivered orally (in pill form or by gas) or intravenously (into the bloodstream), the techniques of sedation dentistry can help even the most fearful patients get the dental care they need. That’s good news for about 50 percent of the population, who admit they’re at least somewhat afraid of the dentist — and even better for the 15 percent who avoid dental care completely due to their fear.

Dentists have a number of ways to ease apprehensive patients through a dental visit. An oral anti-anxiety drug can be given in pill form about an hour beforehand. Nitrous oxide (sometimes called “laughing gas”), which is administered by a mask placed over the mouth or nose, may also be used to relieve anxiety. The calming effects of these medications help make any nervousness melt away — and in many circumstances, mild sedation is all that’s needed to ease the fear.

For lengthier or more complex procedures, intravenous (IV) sedation may be recommended. Unlike deeper (unconscious) sedation, IV sedation doesn’t cause “sleep.” Instead, it puts you in a comfortable semi-awake state, where you can still breathe on your own and respond to stimuli… but without feeling any anxiety. And when the procedure is over, you probably won’t have any memory of it at all.

IV sedation can be administered by dentists who are specially trained and equipped with the proper safety equipment. While sedation is being provided, you will be monitored at all times by a dedicated staff member; when it’s over, you will rest for a while as the medication quickly wears off. Then (as is the case with oral sedation), you’ll need another person to give you a ride home.

Does sedation dentistry really work? Lamar Odom thinks so. “I feel so much better,” he said when his 7-hour procedure was over. “I feel like I accomplished something.”

If you would like more information about sedation dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”

By Timothy T. Bui, D.D.S., Inc.
April 08, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

When you have your teeth bleached in a dental office, the results almost seem like magic. Let's push aside the magician's cape and see what is really happening in professionally-applied, in-office tooth whitening.

How do teeth become discolored?
A tooth's enamel covering is mostly composed of mineral crystals. At a microscopic level, you can see a framework or matrix of organic (living) matter interspersed between the crystals of enamel creating a very irregular surface capable of retaining stains. Chromagenic (color generating) organic compounds can become part of this organic matrix resulting in tooth staining. They can be bleached without affecting the mineral structure of the tooth's enamel.

As people get older and their teeth wear, the enamel loses its youthful translucency and the underlying layer, called dentin, thickens and becomes more yellow. Such changes to the actual tooth structure are called intrinsic staining. Other causes of intrinsic discoloration are exposure to high levels of fluoride or tetracycline antibiotic administration during childhood, tooth decay, or root canal problems, among others. Discoloration can also be caused by external staining from certain foods, drinks, or tobacco products. Such surface stains are called extrinsic staining.

Behind the Magic
Materials used for tooth bleaching are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Peroxides are commonly used as bleach, and you may have seen them used as hair bleaches, for example. Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent that attacks the organic molecules responsible for tooth discoloration, bleaching them until they lose their color. Carbamide peroxide also contains urea, which is a compound that permits the peroxide to remain in contact with the teeth for longer amounts of time without harming them.

Often called power bleaching, the in-office technique uses a high concentration of peroxide solution (35-45% hydrogen peroxide), placed directly on the teeth in the form of a gel. A heat or light source may enhance the peroxide release. The gel is applied with trays custom fitted to your mouth, and specific barriers are applied to protect sensitive gum tissue from the solution. Results show teeth becoming up to ten shades lighter in about an hour.

In-office bleaching under the supervision of my staff and me is recommended if you have severely stained teeth, and particularly if you are about to have veneers or crowns made. It's a way to rediscover the pearly translucency of your youthful smile.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth bleaching. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening.”

By Timothy T. Bui, D.D.S., Inc.
April 06, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Sedation Dentistry  

Find out how this safe form of sedation could effectively make your next dental visit a breeze.

Do visits to Dr. Timothy Bui have you biting your nails in anticipation? Do you find yourself cancelling appointment after appointment Sedation Dentistry due to anxiety? There are countless people in Newport Beach and elsewhere that deal with dental anxiety so severe that they haven’t stepped foot inside a dentist’s office for years. But your smile still needs to be properly cleaned, examined and maintained every six months by your dentist. Luckily, we offer sedation dentistry to help ease you into your next visit. Find out more about laughing gas and how it could make your next appointment an easy one.

What is laughing gas?

While laughing gas is the common term used for this type of sedation, we also refer to it as nitrous oxide. This form of inhalation sedation has no smell, color or irritants and can help relax a patient before a dental procedure.

How does laughing gas work?

For nitrous oxide to be safely administered it is mixed with oxygen to help induce a euphoric and relaxed state. Most dentists will use a mixture of 70 percent oxygen and 30 percent nitrous oxide. Different levels of sedation can be achieved depending on how strong and how long the laughing gas is administered.

What will I feel like under laughing gas?

Once the mask is placed over your face we will ask you to breathe through your nose. After a couple of minutes you should start to feel the effects of the nitrous oxide. You may feel a little light-headed. Some patients report feeling tingling or heaviness in the extremities. However, the main effect you will experience is a sense of calm.

Is laughing gas dangerous?

Laughing gas is extremely safe when administered properly. This is because your Newport Beach, CA dentist is able to control how much nitrous oxide is administered to you through your mask to make sure you feel relaxed and calm during your procedure without overdoing it. Furthermore, nitrous oxide has very little side effects and will not harm the hearts, liver, kidneys or brain.

How long will I experience the effects of laughing gas?

You will only notice the effect of the laughing gas for as long as you have the mask on. Once the mask is removed, the effects wear off almost immediately (with three to five minutes). This is a great option for someone who needs to drive themselves home after an appointment and can’t wait hours for the effects to wear off.

If you want to find out more about how sedation dentistry could improve your next dental visit, then let your Newport Beach dentist, Dr. Timothy Bui, DDS, know. Our goal is to make your visit as painless and relaxing as possible.