Have you ever wondered how you can trust your dentist and their staff? Or perhaps you’ve considered a change of careers and pondered the dental field — or you’ve got a teenager to encourage who wants to become a dentist. Often overlooked and undervalued, those in the dental field have as much — and sometimes more — education behind their profession as those in the general health fields. Whether you’re curious what kind of training your dental hygienist has received or what it takes to become an oral surgeon, look no further.
Dental assistants often act as an extra set of hands around the office. You might encounter a dental assistant cleaning and sterilizing tools, taking X-rays, explaining post-treatment instructions or performing other duties that help dentists and hygienists more smoothly transition from patient to patient.
The education and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state. In New Jersey, dental assistants without any formal education are limited in their duties — they may not be allowed to perform more advanced tasks and might only be doing behind-the-scenes prep work around the office.
Registered dental assistants in New Jersey have at least a high school diploma and are accredited through a state-issued exam. Registered dental assistants also must have completed either an apprenticeship or a certified training program. Assistants who take X-rays must have completed a course and passed an additional exam. Continuing education is required every two years.
Oral hygienists can perform all the duties of an assistant, but they are also trusted to work one-on-one with patients. Oral or dental hygienists may perform cleanings, do routine exams, prep and administer anesthesia before a treatment and even apply decay-preventing treatments.
Licensure and education requirements are left up to each individual state. In New Jersey, dental hygienists have at least an associate’s degree, though some hold bachelor’s degrees in the field. All oral hygienists in New Jersey must complete both a written and a practical exam. If administering anesthesia, they must have additional education and take another written exam. Dental hygienists are required by the state to complete at least 20 continuing education credits every two years to maintain their license, with an additional four hours in anesthesiology education to maintain that certification.
Maintaining fresh breath can be a constant battle. One minute you’ve brushed your teeth and all is well, and the next you catch a whiff of your own oral odor from inside a mask or as you’re speaking to a friend. While regular brushing and flossing can give you a leg up on keeping your mouth smelling clean, sometimes you need to cut down on funky smells while out and about. To do that, try one of these five tips.
Toothbrushes seem to be simple objects at first glance: bristles on a stick. Modern advances in technology that make brushing your teeth easier and more effective elaborate on the idea, adding mechanical and electronic components to aid in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. As ubiquitous as toothbrushes are, though, they didn’t always look the way they do now. Throughout history, oral care implements have taken different forms — some of which seem downright outrageous by today’s standards.
For as long as humans have existed, we’ve been putting things in our mouths in pursuit of food, medicine or enjoyment. While the first commercially sold chewing gum is credited to John Curtis in 1840, it’s likely that chewing gum has existed in some form or another for as long as people have roamed the earth. Nearly every ancient civilization has a version of gum made from tree resin or tar.
And while chewed-up gum is often thought to be of little value to anyone, researchers at the University of Copenhagen have used someone’s old chewed-up, dried-out “gum” to unlock clues about our ancestors.
Choosing a toothbrush seems simple enough, right? But when faced with a seemingly endless array on the shelves, it can quickly turn daunting. It’s an actual cognitive phenomenon that psychologists call overchoice or the paradox of choice — where having too many options makes it more difficult to select just one. It’s possible to overcome this quirk of the human brain, however, when armed with a little bit of knowledge about what your toothbrush needs to do — and how it does it.
Dental anxiety is a powerful reason that many go to the dentist far less often than they should. But fear of dental work shouldn’t keep you from seeking the care you need. Reducing dental anxiety is an undertaking that requires everyone on board — starting with yourself and ending with the staff at your dental office.
Many dental offices are adopting principles of pain-free dentistry, which extends to anxiety-reducing measures to make the experience more tolerable, if not wholly pleasant, for those who suffer serious fears. There are some steps you can take to help reduce your dental anxiety and cope with it as you seek regular care and treatment to keep your smile looking and feeling its best.
Toothpaste manufacturers are keen to hook new customers with new flavors, styles and ingredients. For every great addition to toothpaste, there’s a handful of other trends that can actually harm teeth. Evaluating manufacturer claims isn’t always as simple as glancing at a product’s ingredient list. Keeping a keen, critical eye toward what’s in your dental products — and realistic expectations — can go a long way in preventing costly and painful mistakes.
Teeth are more fascinating than we give them credit for. It’s easy to lose sight of how magnificent the human body is when we’re always focused on keeping it in tip-top shape or peak operating condition. Rather than get bummed out about the problems our bodies give us, let’s revel in the glorious things they can do — and simply are. The human mouth is a unique, wild and wonderful space with some fascinating and gross things going on that are worth knowing, if only so you can win your local coffee shop trivia night.
Nothing that gives you joy during tough times is frivolous. With the status of your next dental appointment unknown or up in the air due to global health events, it’s only natural to focus on the state of your smile — it’s a major point of pride, and keeping it looking gleaming and sparkling is a priority for many. While the only safe teeth-whitening treatment is one provided by your dentist, there are some ways you can preserve and prolong the effects at home — and some DIY home remedies you should definitely steer clear of.
If you can’t stand the thought of eating ice cream or your morning cup of coffee makes you cringe until it’s lukewarm, you may have sensitive teeth. Acidic foods, like your favorite orange or spaghetti with tomato sauce, can also cause you pain at the mere thought of eating them, and you might be so sensitive that you wish you could skip brushing, flossing or rinsing with mouthwash altogether. Sensitive teeth are teeth that hurt — and while some people have naturally sensitive teeth, others may notice a sudden onset of sensitivity caused by other problems.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
If you hit the genetic lottery, you may just have naturally thinner enamel covering your teeth than other people. Enamel is the hard outer shell of your teeth that keeps the soft, sensitive dentin and pulp shielded from external stimuli.
Other times, you might experience sensitivity as a result of an underlying disease or condition. For example, GERD (gastro-esophagel reflux disease), gastroparesis or hyperemesis gravida can wear down enamel through excessive exposure to acid. Closer to the root of the pain, cavities, gingivitis or broken or lost fillings and crowns can also contribute to tooth sensitivity.
Habits like eating or drinking acidic foods too often, brushing your teeth overly enthusiastically or grinding your teeth at night can also add to pain throughout the day. If you’ve recently gotten dental work done — from intensive care like a filling to cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening — you may also experience a temporary increase in sensitivity to your teeth.
What Can I Do About Sensitive Teeth?
Caring for sensitive teeth starts with a good home care routine. Choose a soft toothbrush and ease up on your grip — you don’t need to scrub hard to ensure your teeth are clean and free from bacteria. Alcohol-free mouthwashes and rinses can help, as can those that provide extra fluoride.
Toothpastes made for sensitive teeth can provide some relief. These toothpastes are free from irritating ingredients and may have extra fluoride to help build up your enamel. Some sensitive toothpastes may also include ingredients that help numb the root of your teeth to provide relief from mild pain and irritation. Steer clear of whitening toothpastes, which can weaken enamel, as well as DIY or at-home whitening treatments. Skip gimmicky, charcoal-based toothpastes that can cause mechanical damage by abrading the surface of your teeth, which may be irreversible.
If you’re experiencing sensitivity that’s more than just an irritating sensation — pain or discomfort severe enough that it interferes with your life — it’s time to book an appointment with your dentist.
How Does My Dentist Treat Sensitive Teeth?
Your dentist will start by giving your teeth a cleaning and thorough exam to try to determine the underlying cause of your sensitive teeth. If your discomfort is due to thin enamel, you may be given a prescription for fluoride mouth rinse to help build up your teeth’s defenses. Your dentist may also apply fluoride via a custom-fit tray or directly to your teeth, and will likely advise you to skip whitening treatments or ingredients that promote tooth whitening.
For sensitivity caused by gum recession, cavities or other major issues, your dentist will form a treatment plan to help alleviate your discomfort. For example, gum recession due to periodontal disease may require a more advanced cleaning to restore gum health and allow your gums to grow back over the parts of your teeth that aren’t normally exposed and are therefore more sensitive. Sensitivity due to cavities can be remedied by a filling. For extreme pain or discomfort, you may need a root canal to remove the damaged nerve.
How We Can Help
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is currently closed to protect the health of our staff and patients and cannot take phone calls or requests for appointments at this time. We can, however, answer any questions or concerns sent via email, which you can do by clicking here. We hope to open again soon and can help address concerns about mild to moderate tooth sensitivity at that time.