It's Time for Your Fall Dental Insurance Check-up!

Dental insurance is a valuable benefit! Did you know that most dental insurance plans "start over" on January 1st?  This means that you will have a new deductible and a new annual maximum, and any remaining 2011 benefits will simply just go away.

If you have dental treatment needs, we can help you with a strategy to get the most from your coverage. Just give our office a call; our front office team is very well versed with insurance plans and is happy to assist you with researching your status. 

DIAGNOSIS: Dental Fear

Dental Health News from Dr. Durden

Do you know someone that is afraid of going to the dentist?  If you do, you probably know, this is a very “real” anxiety.

Between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid dentists out of fear.  A higher percentage, perhaps 20%, is apprehensive enough that they will go to the dentist only when they have a problem.  About two-thirds of these individuals connect their fear to a previous bad experience in the dentist's office.  (

Studies show that fear of dentists is not so much worrying about pain as it is the lack of “control of the situation” that anxious patients perceive when in the dental chair.

This feeling of helplessness can trigger a “fight-or-flight” physiological response, and fear takes over.  Some patients even experience this feeling just walking into a dental office.

Understanding the emotional side of the fear can help.  Even so, it can be hard to “talk yourself into it” – this is where we come in!  A few tips that we have seen work with other patients:

·         Get to know us -  It sometimes helps to meet me and my team prior to having any treatment completed.  We can schedule a brief introductory appointment in which we sit for a chat in our consultation room, away from the clinical area.  In this meeting, I can learn more about your dental history and offer options to make you completely at ease while in our care.

·         Bring along a friend or family member that is comfortable with seeing the dentist.  Having someone you trust close by is sometimes helpful and reassuring during treatment.

·         Use distraction to your advantage.  We offer music headphones and television viewing during treatment  (One tip is to listen to music that you have never heard before, so you are more focused on the new music than your surroundings.)

·         Try relaxation techniques, such as controlled, deep breathing or muscle group focus exercises, in which you consciously tighten and relax muscles to ease body tension. 

·         Ask questions about your dental treatment.  We make it a priority to help our patients fully understand their care.  This is very beneficial to all patients, and has proven especially helpful for individuals that are apprehensive about dental procedures  -  knowledge puts you in control.

·       Talk with us about sedation options for dentistry, in which we can help you achieve a fully relaxed state to accomplish the dental treatment you need without fear.
We invite you to Contact Us if you or a loved one is fearful of visiting the dentist – we can help!

Sedation Dentistry

Oral conscious sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as “comfortable” or “relaxation” dentistry.  These terms describe the feelings most patients experience during their conscious sedation dental appointments.  

Should I consider Sedation Dentistry?

If you experience a high level of fear when visiting the dentist, you may be a candidate for sedation dentistry. We have also seen positive results with patients with the following dental histories & needs:

·         Previous traumatic dental experiences
·         Difficulty getting numb, or become very frightened about needles and shots
·         Severe gag reflex
·         Extremely sensitive teeth
·         Extensive restorative needs and limited time for multiple appointments
·         Chronic or acute jaw soreness
·         Physical limitations such as back and neck problems
Conscious Sedation induces an altered state of consciousness that minimizes anxiety and discomfort through the use of pain relievers and sedatives.  You experience a state of very deep relaxation.  Here’s how it works:

·         Before your appointment - We will give you a prescription for a sedative to take the night before or the morning of your appointment to place you in a fully relaxed state.
·         Arriving for treatment - Your companion will bring you to our office, where we will make you comfortable with a warm blanket and music headphones in our treatment area.
·         During your appointment - Dr. Durden will monitor you throughout your entire visit. We will complete your dental treatment while you are sedated, and you will be able to respond to Dr. Durden as necessary.
·         After your appointment - Your companion will take you home and stay with you until you have fully recovered from your sedation medication.
·         The next day - Most patients feel no discomfort or residual effects from the dental visit. Often, oral sedation medications have an amnesic effect – patients remember they went to the dentist, but not much about the dentistry itself.
Our dental treatment areas are also equipped with Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) for a mildly relaxing temporary effect during dental treatment.

Do you or a loved one experience strong fear or anxiety about visiting the dentist?  Dental Sedation may be the solution – Contact Us to learn more.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: The Migraine Connection 

One in four Americans seeks care for acute and chronic pain in the face and neck at some point in life.  Recurring headaches or muscle aches in the neck, shoulders or face plague these people every day and often go unresolved for years. 

In addition, sufferers experience ear symptoms including pain, ringing, buzzing or loss of hearing.  They may also have clicking or locking of the jaw which can make chewing, speaking or moving the jaw painful or difficult.

After thorough analysis, many of these patients' symptoms could be traced back to Temporomandibular (jaw) Joint and obstructive sleep disorders which triggered jaw clenching, resulting in the classic "migraine".

TMJ Dysfunction:  What is it?

TMJ itself stands for Temporomandibular Joints, a complex system of bone, muscle, nerves and soft tissue located just in front of your ears. They are the most frequently used joints in the body… and are prone to misalignment, which can lead to chronic recurrent headaches as well as ear, facial and neck pain.  Until recently, these symptoms, appearing unrelated, were frequently undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as migraine, tension headache, neuritis, neuralgia, or stress.

Migraine Symptoms

Migraines involve recurrent episodes of moderate to severe throbbing or pulsing pain; often striking only one side of the head.  Untreated, such attacks can last from 4 to 72 hours. Other common symptoms are extreme sensitivity to light, noise and odors, and nausea and vomiting.

Migraines occur most frequently in the morning, especially upon waking.  Some people have migraines at predictable times, such as before menstruation or on weekends following a stressful week of work. Many people feel exhausted or weak following a migraine but are usually symptom-free between attacks.

Tension Headaches

Tension-type headache is the most common type of headache.  Its name indicates the role of stress or emotional conflict in triggering pain and contracting the muscles in the neck, face, scalp, and jaw. Tension-type headaches may also be caused by jaw clenching, intense work, missed meals, depression, anxiety or too little sleep. Tension-type headaches affect women slightly more often than men.

Headaches and Sleep Disorders

Headaches are often a secondary symptom of sleep apnea. For example, tension-type headache is regularly seen in persons with insomnia or sleep-wake cycle disorders. Reduced oxygen levels in people with sleep apnea may trigger early morning headaches.

The first step in caring for a tension-type headache involves treating any specific disorder or disease that may be causing it. For example, arthritis of the neck is treated by a physician with anti-inflammatory medication and temporomandibular joint dysfunction may be helped by oral appliances.

·         A sleep study may be needed to detect sleep apnea and should be considered when there is a history of snoring, daytime sleepiness or obesity. Dr. Durden refers patients with possible sleep disorders to a sleep specialist for diagnosis and treatment.

If you think you have a TMJ Disorder

Dr. Durden finds that it is sometimes helpful for patients keep a daily journal to document the details of their TMJ symptoms, including the time(s) pain occurred and what they were doing, along with the level of pain and specific location.  Our Head, Neck and Facial Pain Questionnaire can also provide us with valuable details in addressing TMJ symptoms. 

Chronic pain is one of the most prevalent causes of depression and stress, with the resulting effect of diminishing quality of life.  If you or a loved one is suffering with these types of TMJ symptoms, please Contact Us and let us help you uncover the cause and get back on the road to recovery and a pain-free life.

References: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, American Academy of Craniofacial Pain  

Hey Mom ...

Too busy for two dental visits? 

We know you’re busy. 

That’s why we offer CEREC restorations.  With no temporaries needed, CEREC is  absolutely the fastest way to receive crowns, fillings and inlays.   All can be done in one visit, saving you time in your busy life.  

Call Us Today to take advantage of 
one-visit dentistry @ 706.742.7000

Your Child's First Visit to the Dentist

We believe that a fun, casual first meeting is the ideal way to introduce the sights and sounds of the dental office to your child. We pace this visit based on your child's interest and response to the dental environment. Sometimes it is just a ride in the "spaceship" (dental chair) or a teeth cleaning while your child holds "Mr. Thirsty" (the suction) and learns what we are all about.
We will also teach both you and your child how to make brushing and healthy eating habits fun and rewarding to help take care of that precious smile!

Before You Arrive
Prior to your child’s appointment, tell them that someone will look at their teeth and clean them. Try showing them pictures of dentists or have fun role-playing, acting like you or your child are the dentist. One of our favorite children’s books is “Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist (Dora the Explorer)" by Christina Ricci . 

If you have questions about your child’s first visit to the dentist, give us a call!  706.742.7000

Protecting Your Child’s Oral Health in the Early Years

Children are a joy, and we want to help you keep their smile healthy!  From the appearance of the very first tooth, it is important to take care of your child’s oral health needs on a daily basis to ensure against cavities and infection. 
  • If you have an infant or young child, here's some important tips for their dental home care routine:
  • Clean your infant's gums with a clean, damp cloth twice a day.
  • As soon as the first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush moistened with water, after each meal. 
  • Help your young child brush at night.  This is the most important time to brush thoroughly, due to lower salivary flow during sleep and higher vulnerability to cavities and bacterial plaque.
  • A small, pea-size dab of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it.  (Note: too much fluoride in the early stages of tooth development can cause dental fluorosis, a harmless cosmetic condition manifested by brown, mottled or discolored enamel).

By approximately age 5, your child can learn to brush his or her teeth with proper parental instruction and supervision.

One of the best ways to encourage brushing is to be a good role model. Many parents brush their own teeth while helping their child brush, making brushing a fun time together.

Children, like adults, should see the dentist every six months.  It is important to us that your child have wonderful early experiences at the dentist! We see children at age 3 and above in our office, and we work closely with pediatric dental specialists to care for children that are very young or are apprehensive about seeing the dentist.

If you have questions about your child's oral health, please do not hesitate to Contact Us for assistance.

What is "Baby Bottle" Tooth Decay?

One common way a baby can develop cavities is called “baby bottle tooth decay.” This condition  occurs when a child’s teeth are frequently exposed to sugary liquids, such as milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened liquids for long periods.  With the nutrient source of the sugars, harmful bacteria thrive in the oral environment and begin to destroy tooth enamel, often affecting multiple teeth and resulting in “rampant” decay.

Without treatment, tooth decay progresses and can eventually cause pain, infection and abscesses.   Severely decayed teeth may need to be extracted.  

If teeth are infected or lost too early due to baby bottle tooth decay, a child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth and damaged adult teeth.

Prevention of “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Syndrome”

The key to preventing decay in an infant’s baby teeth is to keep the mouth clean between feedings and avoid using nursing bottles as pacifiers.   If you must give your baby a bottle at bedtime or naptime, make sure it contains plain water.  Also, you should never give a baby a pacifier that has been dipped in honey or sugar. 

Healthy baby teeth will help ensure your child has healthy permanent teeth!  Please feel free to contact us or visit for more information about your child’s oral health.

What are Dental Sealants?

The grooves and depressions in the chewing surfaces of back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean. Acids formed by bacteria and food sugars organize in these areas and break down tooth enamel, causing tooth decay. Studies indicate that 88 percent of tooth decay in American school children begins in this manner.

A dental sealant is a protective plastic coating that is painted onto the chewing surface of a tooth and then hardened using a special light.  By filling the tooth grooves, sealants create a smooth surface that is easier to keep clean and can last for years.

Sealants require no drilling or anesthetic and are a great preventive procedure for children to help protect permanent teeth.

We will check your child’s sealants at regular checkup appointments, and can re-apply the sealant material if necessary.

Energy and Sports Drinks – a Word of Caution

Most people understand the relationship between sugar and tooth decay, and parents are careful about allowing their child to have too much candy or sugary soft drinks.  The recent popularity of sports and energy drinks has brought on an increase in the occurrence of decay related to tooth erosion in children.

Over-consumption of acidic beverages such as sodas, sports drinks and some box juice products can increase the potential for dental erosion, which leaves tooth surfaces weakened and more susceptible to bacteria that cause tooth decay.

In recent years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has cautioned parents about energy and sports drinks:

“Sports drinks, which contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and flavoring are designed to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise. Sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but in most cases they are unnecessary on the sports field or in the school lunchroom.

Caffeine, a common ingredient in energy drinks, has been linked to a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems. Energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents, said Dr. Benjamin and co-author Marcie Beth Schneider, M.D.  In general, caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, should be avoided.”

By far, the most common recommendation for parents and athletes is to drink water before, during and after sports activities.