There’s a reason why smiling is contagious—when we smile, we set off a positive chemical reaction in our brain. In fact, the science of smiling may just make you, well, smile.

First Impressions

A first impression sets the stage for the next steps of a relationship. Be it a friend, business acquaintance, or long-lost relative, offering a smile upon an introduction lowers the other person’s anxiety because they perceive you as a non-threat (humans are wired to recognize threats, and are especially susceptible to judgment on a first encounter). A smile can also trigger a smile in return from the other person. This act is both a mirroring gesture and a non-verbal form of communication that says, “Hey, we’re on the same page. It’s truly nice to meet you.”

Stress Reduction and Health

Studies have shown that not only does smiling reduce stress, it can also have a long-term impact on our health. Whereas negative emotions can cause health issues, positive ones can keep us living longer, happier lives.

Smiling as We Age: Kids vs. Adults

Smiling can generate more positive internal emotions. In fact, this emotion can be felt just by witnessing another person smile. This is why we often feel happier around kids (they smile about 400 times a day, while happy adults smile 40-50 times).

Want Your Best Smile?

Do you want a smile that you love sharing with the world? Schedule an appointment today and Dr. Fernandez will help get you on your way to a healthier, happier smile.

As a parent, you may be concerned about your child’s thumb sucking and pacifier use. 

Why Do Babies Suck Their Thumbs?

It’s completely natural for a child to want to suck their thumb or a pacifier. It’s an innate inclination for both feeding and exploration. After 6 months of age, sucking tends to decrease. However, some children may continue well into their toddler years, spurred on by hunger, fear, or even as a soothing mechanism when they’re tired.

What are the Effects of Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers?

Extended thumb sucking and pacifier use can lead to a host of longer-term issues, including:

  • Nudging teeth out of place, potentially causing an underbite or overbite
  • Exposure to germs
  • Altering the sensitivity of the roof of the mouth
  • Jaw bone misalignment, causing a lisp

When Should a Child Stop Using a Pacifier and Sucking Their Thumb?

Studies suggest as much as 30% of preschoolers still suck their thumbs. The general rule to put an end to this is between ages 2 and 4. However, be careful to avoid excessive pressure to stop your child from breaking their habit. Doing so can result in more harm than good. Consider using positive reinforcement, such as a rewards system. Curbing this habit at a young age can help your child’s future oral health by stopping teeth misalignment and potential speech problems. 

Should You See a Dentist?

Are you concerned about your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use? Schedule an appointment today and Dr. Fernandez will help get you and your child find a fun, long-term solution.

Do you have a smile that needs a little correction? Invisalign® may be the perfect solution for you. But how does Invisalign work?

How Invisalign Works

Using custom-fitted aligners, Invisalign corrects crooked teeth. Unlike metal braces which are cumbersome and can cause the wearer to be self-conscious, Invisalign is nearly invisible to the eyes and consists of smooth, removable aligners.

Using our CEREC Ortho Software, Dr. Fernandez takes a 3D digital impression of your teeth. This impression is used to map out a precise plan for moving your teeth into the perfect smile. During this time, Dr. Fernandez will provide an estimate for how long your treatment will take and he can even show you a preview of your new smile!

How Often Do You Wear Invisalign?

Snapping a selfie? Brushing your teeth? Feel free to pop out your Invisalign. The retainers are meant to be worn 20-22 hours per day.

Unlike braces, you don’t have to avoid certain foods with Invisalign. So feel free to eat what you like! Just be sure to brush and then slide your Invisalign back on and you’re all set.

After Treatment is Complete, What’s Next?

To keep teeth from shifting, Dr. Fernandez will likely recommend a retainer. This will keep your new smile intact for you to show off to the world every day for years to come.

Interested in learning more about Invisalign? Schedule an appointment today and Dr. Fernandez will be happy to visit with you about getting your smile back on track.

E-cigarettes are touted as the safer version of tobacco cigarettes. Though long-term effects of vaping are still unknown, studies have shown vaping isn’t as safe for you—or your teeth—as you may think.

Dry Mouth

More than simply a side effect of being thirsty, dry mouth associated with vaping can cause big troubles for your teeth. Vaping-based liquids like propylene glycol can cause dry mouth, which can lead to excess bacteria. That bacteria is the start of bad breath, mouth sores, and even tooth decay.

Gum Inflammation and Irritation

When you vape, the chemicals you inhale pass over your gums and can cause an inflammatory response. This is your body’s natural defense system at work. Over time, continued gum inflammation can lead to painful irritation, not to mention different forms of periodontal diseases.

DNA Damage

You read that right. Inhaling vaping aerosols can break down cells’ abilities to divide and grow. The result? Cells age more quickly and can even be killed. A list of potential damages and diseases include:

  • Tooth decay
  • Bone loss
  • Tooth loss
  • Bad breath
  • Periodontal diseases

Vaping Can Cause You to Grind Your Teeth

Nicotine may make you feel relaxed but may prompt the opposite effect as well. Being a stimulant that fires up your muscles, nicotine can cause teeth grinders to worsen their behavior and even turn non-grinders to grinders.

Do you vape? Are you concerned your teeth are taking the brunt of vaping’s negative side effects? Schedule an appointment today and Dr. Fernandez will help get you on your way to a healthier, happier smile.

In the digital age, our smile is seen everywhere—from Facebook to Instagram, we want our grin to be at its best. Teeth whitening provides a safe, cost-effective solution for a brighter smile. But can teeth whitening damage your teeth? Let’s take a look.

What Causes Teeth to Turn Yellow?

Before we look into the details of teeth whitening, let’s first examine the causes of teeth discoloration. The yellow color takes place in the inner part of your tooth known as dentin, not the enamel as many people presume. This happens as you grow older, but can also be caused by genetics, overexposure to fluoride, silver fillings, and more.

How Does Teeth Whitening Work?

There are two types of teeth whitening: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic whitening refers to whitening your dentin (the inner part of your tooth) while extrinsic whitening removes enamel stains. Extrinsic stains can be removed by whitening toothpaste and with a polish or teeth cleaning from your dental hygienist.

Keep in mind that teeth whitening is not permanent. Most teeth whitening lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on your diet and lifestyle.

Is Teeth Whitening Safe?

The answer is yes, if done correctly. Over-the-counter remedies like Crest Whitestrips can cause damage to your enamel if left on too long, and expose your gums to harmful chemicals.

Tooth sensitivity is common following the teeth whitening process (up to 24 hours after), but a little ibuprofen can easily remedy this side effect.

In the end, it’s best to speak to a dentist about teeth whitening. If you’d like to learn more about the simple procedure, give us a call and we’ll be happy to set up an appointment for you over the phone.

If you’ve ever been at 30,000 feet and gotten a sharp pain in your tooth, you know that flying can give you a toothache. But why does it happen? And how can you help prevent it? Let’s take a mile-high view of airplane-related toothaches.

Why Can Flying Give you a Toothache?

It all comes down to changes in pressure. Elevation increases pain—the higher you go, the more you feel the pain due to an increase in pressure. You may also feel this pressure in your ears, eyes, sinuses, and even your joints.

Toothaches while flying is a condition known as aerodontalgia or barodontalgia. Such pain shouldn’t occur in healthy teeth, so if you get a toothache while flying, that’s the sign of a problematic tooth. The pain can cause old issues to flair and new issues to arise. However, keep this in mind: Though the pain may increase while flying, issues with gingivitis, loose fillings, and cavities won’t be made worse.

How to Manage a Toothache While Flying

If you experience tooth pain prior to a flight—even in the slightest—you should book an appointment with your dentist. If you don’t have pain but have a history of dental issues, you could save yourself some issues by letting your dentist take a look before you take off. They may be able to offer you pain medications to help curb issues while in the air.

Should You See a Dentist?

Are you concerned a toothache is going to ruin your flight? Schedule an appointment today and Dr. Fernandez will help get you on your way to a healthier, happier smile.

If you have missing teeth, your dentist can help fill in the gap with a bridge. Before you know it, you’ll have your old smile back. But what is a dental bridge and how does it work?

Dental Bridges – The Basics

A dental bridge is a false tooth held in place by the teeth on either side of the gap. There are four main types of dental bridges:

  • Maryland – Can be made from a variety of materials, including porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or plastic teeth and gums supported by a metal or porcelain framework
  • Cantilever – This style is used when an adjacent tooth is only available on one side of the missing tooth
  • Traditional – The most common type of bridge, a traditional bridge involves creating a crown for the tooth or implant on either side of the missing tooth
  • Implant-supported – Used when you have more than one tooth missing

No matter what bridge suits your situation best, the result is a safe and secure procedure that feels like natural teeth.

Are you feeling self-conscious about a missing tooth? Is it causing pain or making everyday movements like chewing a chore? Here at Fernandez Family Dentistry, we can close the gaps in your smile and get you back to feeling like your regular self. If you have questions about dental bridges, feel free to give our office a call at 757-497-4825. We’re conveniently located near the Mount Trashmore Office Park. For a map and detailed directions, click here.

Creating positive brushing habits in your young ones now is crucial not only for them to have a bright smile, but to be overall healthier. As many parents know, this isn’t always an easy job. In fact, sometimes it can feel downright impossible.

Don’t fret—we have a few techniques that will have your kids brushing with joy in no time.

Make Brushing a Game

Brushing may be serious business, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Turn brushing into a game with a scoring chart. Help form the habit by creating a calendar that tracks points over time. Once your kids reach a certain score, offer prizes for their hard work.

Let them Choose Their Brush

Remember when you were a kid how much more fun it was to brush your teeth when you got to pick out your own toothbrush? Whether your child wants to brush with their favorite cartoon character or they want a bit of purple sparkles, let the kids make the choice. Ownership of this decision can translate into ownership of brushing.

Show Them the Way

You’re asking your kids to brush and floss twice a day, but are you doing the same? Make it a point to keep up with your brushing and flossing. Bonus points: brush and floss with your kids whenever you can.

Positive brushing and flossing habits are the cornerstone of a happy and healthy child. And so is a regular trip to the dentist. Schedule an appointment today at our family-friendly dentist office, complete with televisions for the kids to watch their favorite shows.

Does the thought of going to the dentist scare you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Even those who have only had positive experiences with their dentist can still feel anxiety with each visit. Here are a few common anxieties and tips to help calm them.

1. Pain

Worrying about pain can make you tense up, which can make you even more sensitive to pain. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that your dentist is a trained professional and wants to make your experience a pleasant one. Anxieties can stem from a need for control in a situation that feels completely out of your hands. Placing trust in your dentist can alleviate anxieties of pain. Also keep in mind that numbing gels and anesthetics are available for most treatments.

2. The Sounds

The whirl of a drill can make anybody nervous. That’s completely understandable. But rather than fixating on what you think the drill might do (harm you), focus on what it’s meant to do (help you) and you’ll be in a much more positive headspace. Try this with any sound that raises your anxieties.

3. Being Heard by Your Dentist

Some people worry that their dentist isn’t concerned about their personal needs, and thus they feel they won’t be heard. A good dentist welcomes your thoughts and feedback and will explain every step of the process, so you know exactly what’s happening. You can even take a break as needed.

Identifying your fear is the first step to overcoming it. Once you’ve done that, you can take the steps to calm your anxieties, which can include:

  • Bringing a friend or family member with you to your next appointment
  • Choose a dentist you feel comfortable with, one who you feel truly cares about you
  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation
  • Tune into a humorous show during your visit—studies have shown that humor helps reduce dental anxieties
  • If your anxieties can’t be calmed, talk through your fears with a therapist

Do you want an inviting and relaxing dental visit? Book an appointment with us online or give us a call at 757-497-4825. Dr. Fernandez is here to make your visit anxiety-free.

Everything is planned out perfectly—from the mouth-watering restaurants to the selfie-worthy landscapes, this is set to be your best vacation ever.

But then the unthinkable happens: you get a toothache. The pain distracts you from enjoying your time.

What do you do?

Don’t worry, we have some solutions for you!

Pre-Trip: Know Your Destination

You might search for hospitals nearby prior to your trip just to be safe, but also check your destination for local dental offices. Knowing where to go just in case can be the difference between a vacation saved and a vacation ruined.

Bring Dental Care Necessities

In addition to bringing your own toothbrush and toothpaste, throw in a pain-relief agent like Orajel. If you have kiddos, also pack a kids’ strength version. As they say, better safe than sorry.

If All Else Fails…

Let’s say there’s no accessible dentist and you didn’t pack any numbing meds. The first thing you should try is to rinse your mouth with warm water. Then grab your floss and make sure there aren’t any food particles stuck between your teeth or your gums (you’d be surprised how often this is the cause). Take an over-the-counter pain medication like Motrin or Advil, which are also anti-inflammatory.

Peppermint tea can also prove helpful. Swish it around your mouth and then swallow. A warm, wet ginseng tea bag can also provide temporary relief.

Prepare for Your Vacation with an Exam

Do you have a history of toothaches while traveling? Do you feel a slight pain that you worry will get worse on a flight? Or do you simply want to take the preventative route? Be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fernandez today. He’ll be happy to get your teeth vacation-ready!

When a tooth decays, there are several recommend procedures, one of which is a root canal. The term is thrown around a lot, but what exactly is a root canal and how do you know if you need one?

What is a Root Canal?

In the simplest terms, a root canal is a procedure to preserve a tooth rather than save it—because by the time you need a root canal the tooth is already decayed. The procedure involves making a tiny hole, cleaning the pulp chamber, and sealing the tooth back up.

Signs You Need a Root Canal

According to the American Association of Endodontics, the most common symptom that indicates a need for a root canal is tooth pain. However, keep in mind that tooth pain doesn’t necessarily mean you need a root canal. A few ways we access our patients’ potential for a root canal are:

Pain Evaluation – Is it spurred on by a hot or cold drink or does the pain show up in spontaneous waves? Does the pain vary when you’re sitting up versus lying down?

Abscess – To find an abscess, we typically need the assistance of an x-ray. Because bone won’t grow in an area of infection, an abscess shows up as a dark spot in the jawbone.

Fistula on the gum – An infection can show itself through a fistula, a little bump on your gum that can vary in color from white to red.

Questions to Ask Your Dentist

  • If I need a root canal, how soon should I get it?
  • What if I skip the root canal? What are the alternatives?
  • Is it possible the tooth will survive on its own?
  • What’s the likelihood the infection will spread?
  • What is the recovery time for a root canal?

Think you might need a root canal? The only way to be certain is to ask a professional dentist. If you want to learn more about your options, book an appointment with us today. Dr. Fernandez will be happy to review your situation and point you in the right direction.