Posts for: October, 2018

By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
October 21, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  
HowtoKeeptheCavityMonsterAwaythisHalloween

Watching your kids dress up in cute, spooky costumes and go out trick-or-treating can be a real thrill. But thinking about the dental damage caused by eating all those sweets might just give you the chills. So is it best to act like a witch and take away all the candy from those adorable little ghosts and goblins?

Relax! According to experts like the American Dental Association, it’s OK to let kids enjoy some sweet treats on special occasions like Halloween—especially if they have been taking good care of their oral hygiene all year long, by brushing twice each day and flossing once every day. But to help keep cavities away from those young smiles, there are some things parents (and everyone else) should understand.

Cavities—small holes in the tooth’s outer surface that result from the decay process—get started when bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and produce acids. The acids eat away at the hard enamel coating of teeth. If left untreated, decay will eventually reach the soft inner core of the tooth, causing even more serious damage.

There are several ways to stop the process of tooth decay. One is to take away the sugar that decay bacteria feed on. Because this ingredient is common in so many foods, it’s hard to completely eliminate sugar from the diet. Instead, it may be more practical to limit the consumption of sweets. For example, if kids are only allowed to eat sugary treats around mealtimes, it gives the mouth plenty of “downtime,” in which healthful saliva can neutralize the bacterial acids. It also helps to avoid sweets that stick to teeth (like taffy or gummy bears) and those that stay in the mouth for a long time (like hard candy).

Another way to help stop tooth decay is by maintaining top-notch oral hygiene. Decay bacteria thrive in the sticky film called plaque that clings stubbornly to the surfaces of teeth. Plaque can be removed by—you guessed it—effective brushing and flossing techniques. While it’s a good start, brushing alone won’t remove plaque from the spaces between teeth and under the gums: That’s why flossing is an essential part of the daily oral hygiene routine. Helping your kids develop good oral hygiene habits is among the best things you can do to fight cavities.

And speaking of habits, there are a few others that can help—or hurt—your oral health.  For example, drinking plenty of water keeps the body hydrated and benefits oral health; but regularly drinking soda and other sweetened or acidic beverages greatly increases the risk of tooth decay. And seeing your dentist on a regular basis for professional cleanings and routine checkups is one of the most beneficial habits of all. Working together, we can help keep tooth decay from turning into a scary situation for kids—and adults too.

If you have questions about cavity prevention or oral hygiene, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health” and “Tooth Decay—How to Assess Your Risk.”


By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
October 11, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: celebrity smiles   retainer  
MargotRobbieKnowsAGreatSmileIsWorthProtecting

On the big screen, Australian-born actress Margot Robbie may be best known for playing devil-may-care anti-heroes—like Suicide Squad member Harley Quinn and notorious figure skater Tonya Harding. But recently, a discussion of her role in Peter Rabbit proved that in real life, she’s making healthier choices. When asked whether it was hard to voice a character with a speech impediment, she revealed that she wears retainers in her mouth at night, which gives her a noticeable lisp.

“I actually have two retainers,” she explained, “one for my bottom teeth which is for grinding my teeth, and one for my top teeth which is just so my teeth don't move.”

Clearly Robbie is serious about protecting her dazzling smile. And she has good reasons for wearing both of those retainers. So first, let’s talk about retainers for teeth grinding.

Also called bruxism, teeth grinding affects around 10 percent of adults at one time or another, and is often associated with stress. If you wake up with headaches, sore teeth or irritated gums, or your sleeping partner complains of grinding noises at night, you may be suffering from nighttime teeth grinding without even being aware of it.

A type of retainer called an occlusal guard is frequently recommended to alleviate the symptoms of bruxism. Typically made of plastic, this appliance fits comfortably over your teeth and prevents them from being damaged when they rub against each other. In combination with stress reduction techniques and other conservative treatments, it’s often the best way to manage teeth grinding.

Orthodontic retainers are also well-established treatment devices. While appliances like braces or aligners cause teeth to move into better positions, retainers are designed to keep teeth from moving—helping them to stay in those positions. After active orthodontic treatment, a period of retention is needed to allow the bite to stabilize. Otherwise, the teeth can drift right back to their old locations, undoing the time and effort of orthodontic treatment.

So Robbie has the right idea there too. However, for those who don’t relish the idea of wearing a plastic appliance, it’s often possible to bond a wire retainer to the back surfaces of the teeth, where it’s invisible. No matter which kind you choose, wearing a retainer can help keep your smile looking great for many years to come.

If you have questions about teeth grinding or orthodontic retainers, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Grinding” and “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.”


By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
October 05, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth   Extraction  

Tooth ExtractionYou're in pain. Your jaw is swollen, and your tooth is sensitive to heat and cold. Do you need a dental extraction? These signs and others may indicate your tooth is in jeopardy, but only your family dentist in Marion, Dr. Wayne Cook, can tell for sure. His experience and skill assure you of an accurate diagnosis and successful extraction if needed.

Danger signs

What tells Dr. Cook your tooth needs an extraction? X-rays and visual examination are part of the story, as are symptoms of:

  • A toothache
  • Jaw and gum swelling
  • Drainage and bad breath
  • Tooth mobility
  • Visible damage such as a deep crack, large chip or lost filling
  • Sensitivity to pressure and temperature extremes

While fillings, crowns and root canal therapy save many the ailing tooth, some teeth are just too far gone and must be pulled.

Other problems

Sometimes a tooth needs extraction because it's in the wrong place at the wrong time. Examples of these situations include:

  • Baby teeth which won't allow underlying adult teeth to erupt
  • Teeth in the way of cancer therapy (radiation)
  • Wisdom teeth, or third molars, which enter an adolescent's mouth crooked or not at all because they are impacted in bone or gum tissue
  • Teeth which are too large for a patient's jaw, causing misalignment and overcrowding
  • Impacted canine teeth (the American Association of Orthodontists recommends X-rays by age seven to determine the position of incoming teeth)

Your treatment plan

Whatever the problem, your Marion family dentist will devise the treatment plan to correct it and give you the healthiest, best-looking smile possible.

If the plan includes extraction, expect a comfortable treatment under local anesthetic or other pain control option. While most extractions are called simple extractions (the dentist just pulls the tooth using handheld tools), others are more complex.

Either way, Dr. Cook will follow your case carefully post procedure and recommend the following aftercare:

  • Over the counter analgesics for pain
  • Biting on sterile gauze to stop bleeding
  • Oral antibiotics if the tooth was abscessed
  • Rinsing with salt water
  • Eating a soft diet
  • No brushing, smoking or drinking with a straw so the blood clot stays in the socket

This last caution helps prevent a condition called "dry socket." Dry socket happens when suction or other condition interferes with the blood clot which forms after extraction. The Columbia University College of Dental Medicine says that 3 to 4 percent of dry sockets become infected and must be avoided if at all possible.

Don't worry

No one wants to lose a tooth, but count on Dr. Wayne Cook and his team for an extraction that's performed properly and for tooth replacement options which make sense for your case. Call the office right away if you have worrisome dental symptoms. We're here to help. Phone (870) 739-8799.


By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
October 01, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene  
4ThingstoGiveYourChildaHeadStartonGoodOralHealth

From the time they're born, you do everything you can to help your children develop a healthy body. That should include their teeth and gums. It's not over-dramatizing to say that what you do now may set the pattern for a healthy mouth for the rest of their life.

Here, then, are 4 things you should be doing for your children's oral health before they begin school.

Train them to brush and floss. Good hygiene habits have one primary purpose — remove dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles that builds up on tooth surfaces. Plaque is the number one cause of tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease, so focus on brushing and later flossing as soon as their first teeth appear in the mouth, gradually training them to perform the tasks themselves. You can also teach them to test their efforts with a rub of the tongue — if it feels smooth and “squeaky,” their teeth are clean!

Keep your own oral bacteria to yourself. Children aren't born with decay-producing bacteria — it's passed on to them through physical contact from parents and caregivers. To limit their exposure to these “bad” bacteria, avoid kissing infants on the lips, don't share eating utensils and don't lick a pacifier to clean it off.

Eat healthy — and watch those sweets. Building up healthy teeth with strong enamel is as important to decay prevention as daily hygiene. Be sure they're getting the nutrients they need through a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and dairy (and set a good example by eating nutritiously too). Sugar is a prime food source for bacteria that cause tooth decay, so avoid sugary snacks if possible and limit consumption to mealtimes.

Wean them off pacifiers and thumb sucking. It's quite normal for children to suck pacifiers and their thumbs as infants and young toddlers. It becomes a problem for bite development, though, if these habits continue into later childhood. As a rule of thumb, begin encouraging your children to stop sucking pacifiers or their thumbs by age 3.

If you would like more information on promoting your child's dental health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Help your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”




Marion, AR Family Dentist
Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
303 Bancario Rd.Suite 7
Marion, AR 72364
870-739-8799
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