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Pregnancy and Oral Care

January 16th, 2019

Pregnancy involves a lot of alterations in your health. our office is here to help you understand the oral health aspects of your pregnancy.

As you may already know, your body becomes more susceptible to bacterial complications. In terms of oral health, you may be at a higher risk for gingivitis and periodontal disease during the course of your pregnancy.

The hormonal changes in your body can create a more welcoming environment for gum infections, including gingivitis. Although you may continue to brush and floss on a regular basis, and maintain your schedule of cleaning appointments, you are still prone to an increased risk of gingivitis. Your gums may feel more sensitive and become more prone to bleeding because of the increased amount of blood flowing through your body. This can also be a side effect of periodontal disease, which nearly 40% of pregnant women have.

In order to avoid painful dental visits, you should attempt to brush more than twice a day and always floss regularly. We recommend investing in a good mouthwash for extra protection against plaque buildup. Other oral conditions to watch out for during pregnancy include oral gingival lesions, tooth mobility, tooth erosion, and dental caries.

Keeping your oral health in top shape will prevent bacteria from circulating to other places in your body during pregnancy. Your immune system is more likely to be compromised, which means you generally face an increased risk for illnesses.

Don’t forget that you share nutrients and pathogens with your baby, so it’s crucial to reduce your risks in every possible way. If you think you may be experiencing an oral health issue during your pregnancy, please call our Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment, and we will be happy to help you.

Camping Oral Health Tips

January 9th, 2019

If your idea of camping is a quiet walk through the woods before returning to your rustic hotel, your regular brushing habits will be perfect for your trip. But if you are hiking into the mountains with your tent, backpack, and camp food, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team have some suggestions to adapt your dental routine to the great outdoors.

Water

If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t brush with it! Use bottled water if you have brought it, or make sure the local water is safe by using a testing kit. Boiling, filters and purification tablets are all ways to make sure the water tests clean and safe.

Toothpaste

You aren’t the only one in the woods who finds your toothpaste tasty. Bears, raccoons, and other animals are attracted to the scent of your toothpaste, so keep it safe with the same kind of tightly sealed, odor-proof container that you keep your food in. And if you want to discourage unwanted visitors, don’t spit your toothpaste out at your campground! It’s better to go some distance from your site and bury any paste, and best of all to spit used toothpaste into a container that can be tightly closed and removed from the campsite when you head for home. This practice protects you and the environment as well, since toothpaste can be harmful to small animals and plants.

Toothbrush

While there are disposable and camping toothbrushes available, a regular toothbrush will work as well. Normally, air-drying is the healthiest option for drying your toothbrush, but camping is an exception. Just as animals are attracted to toothpaste, they are also attracted to your toothpaste-scented toothbrush. Keep it in a sealed container that is odor-proof.

Floss

There are websites devoted to the many ingenious ways to use dental floss while camping, but we recommend the original use. Don’t forget to floss regularly, keep it in a sealed container, and do be sure to take used floss out of the area with you.

Even though you are roughing it, stick with your home routine as much as possible. If you are unable to brush as usual, rinse your mouth well with clean water and brush when you can. Have a great trip, and just one more thought—maybe go easy on the s’mores. Let us know all about your trip during your next visit to our Jacksonville, FL office!

New Year, New Us

January 7th, 2019

Happy 2019, everyone! We’re so excited to set our goals and intentions for this year. Something tells us it’s going to be a great one. Today we’re highlighting some of the things that our treatment plan coordinator, Liz White, will be focusing on in 2019.

First and foremost, Liz is looking forward to helping as many patients as she can. She feels passionate about helping people achieve their best overall dental health. On a more personal note, she’s going to work on always trying to see things from someone else’s perspective and keeping compassion at the forefront of her life along with patience and resilience.

Liz believes it’s important to set goals so that you have something to look forward to and work towards. To stay on top of her resolutions, Liz likes to keep them where she can see them. She’s found that something as simple as a post-it reminder in the bathroom mirror can go a long way!

Another item on Liz’s vision board for the year is taking a trip to Jamaica with her pal Brittany. There’s nothing quite like a tropical vacation to treat yourself. If you have any bucket list trips you want to take this year, we’d love to hear about them!

Now that the time for PJ’s on Christmas Eve has passed, Liz is ready to take on 2019 and so is the rest of our office! We hope you’re all having a healthy and happy start to the year. We hope to see you in the office soon!

 

Tooth Protection and Winter Sports

January 2nd, 2019

Just because it’s cold out there doesn’t mean you’ll give up keeping fit and active! Winter is the season for some of our favorite team sporting activities, and when you’re donning your protective gear, don’t forget to protect your teeth as well.

  • Basketball

This sport actually tallies one of the highest counts of dental injuries. Running, jumping, and diving for the ball on an unforgiving court can lead to tooth and jaw injuries.  And for every ten men on the floor, it seems like there at least 50 flailing elbows in the paint.

  • Hockey

Notorious for the toll it takes on teeth, hockey is a game of sticks, ice, and whizzing pucks. And when your sport’s penalties include the terms hooking, slashing, and tripping, the more protection, the better.

  • Skiing

When you are flying down the slopes, combining powdery snow and speed, mouth protection is a good idea. This also applies to snowboarding and other snow sports.

  • Wrestling

Grappling and pinning in close quarters can lead to unintended injuries after accidental contact with the mat or your opponent.

Different uniforms, different equipment, and different playing fields, but all these sports have one thing in common—the easiest way to protect your teeth while playing them is with a mouth guard.

Mouthguards generally come in three forms:

  • Over the counter, ready-made appliances. These are available in drugstores and sporting goods stores, but might not be a comfortable fit as they are pre-formed sizes.
  • The “boil-and-bite” option is a mouthguard form placed in hot water. You then bite down to shape it to your mouth and teeth.
  • Custom mouthguards can be fabricated just for you through our Jacksonville, FL office. These appliances are designed to fit your individual mouth and teeth, so provide a better fit and better protection. They are also usually more durable and more comfortable. If you wear braces, you definitely need a custom mouthguard to prevent an injury to your mouth or braces caused by an ill-fitting appliance.

Whether you play on a team or pursue individual athletic activities, keeping safe as you keep fit is your first priority. We would be happy to discuss your mouthguard options for any sport, any time of year.

A Brighter Smile for the New Year

December 26th, 2018

The beginning of a new year is the perfect opportunity for a fresh start for you and your smile. At our office, a brighter smile is quick and easy!

Given the latest in whitening technology, whiter teeth are only an appointment away. Teeth whitening is a safe, quick, and inexpensive way to create the dream smile you’ve always desired. We can offer a safe method that corrects tooth discolorations that may have been caused by staining, aging, or chemical effects.

So, start the new year off right and get a whiter smile today! Give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment!

What’s an intraoral camera?

December 19th, 2018

One of the greatest features our team at our office offers is the ability to see first-hand how we can help our patients. While X-rays help us detect any problems in your mouth and give us valuable information on what is bothering you, they often don’t give Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen a complete view of everything that is going on inside your mouth. With the use of an intraoral camera, we can see every aspect of your teeth and mouth with incredible detail, uncovering cracked or fractured teeth, excessive wear, carious lesions, cavities, or other issues that may be hidden. When we can discover oral problems early on, your treatment is much less invasive and often saves you money down the road.

An intraoral camera allows Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen to view clear, precise images of your mouth, teeth, and gums and allows us to make an accurate diagnosis.  With clear, defined, enlarged images, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team see details that standard mirror examinations may miss. It’s much easier to understand what is happening in your mouth if you can see the problem on a computer monitor, and it means faster diagnosis and less chair-time for our patients!

Intraoral cameras are small, about the size of a dental mirror, and emit a light onto the tooth. The tooth will emit a color that lets Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen determine if the tooth is healthy or diseased. Intraoral cameras also allow us to save your images on our office computer to provide a permanent record of treatments. These treatments can be printed for you, other specialists, and your lab or insurance companies.

For any questions about the intraoral camera, we encourage you to ask Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen or our team during your or your child’s next visit or by giving us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office.

Looking Back on 2018

December 13th, 2018

This year was a great one for our office. Our favorite moment was without a doubt moving into our brand new office. Nothing boosts energy and gets everyone excited like a change of scenery. And as a result of moving into a bigger space, we were able to have more flexibility when scheduling appointments with our patients.

We were able to meet all of our goals for this year, and one of the main ones was accommodating patients as best as we could. We also learned that even when you achieve what you set out to do, it’s important to keep pushing yourself to continue to grow and learn.

One of our favorite trips of the year was going to the Florida Dental Association conference in Orlando. Dr. Mullens stole the show with a fishnet shirt on… we’ll let you be the ones to ask him about it. When it comes to entertainment, the show Shameless continues to be a favorite in the office and one of our favorite reads was Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.

We’re looking forward to getting into our Christmas eve pajamas and spending times with our families and we hope you all get a chance to do the same! And if you’re still looking for gift ideas, don’t forget that we have 10-20% off all whitening right now. You know, just a thought.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Protecting Your Smile with Mouthguards

December 12th, 2018

If you participate in sports or other physical activities, it’s wise to consider getting a mouthguard. Also known as mouth protectors, mouthguards are a device worn over the teeth to lessen the impact of a blow to the face.

This reduces the chance that you might lose teeth or sustain other serious oral injuries. We recommend that all patients involved in a contact sport such as wrestling, football, or hockey wear a mouthguard because of the high risk of such injuries.

However, anyone involved in a physically demanding sport or activity should wear a mouthguard as well.

Can you imagine what it would be like to lose a few of your front teeth? The way you talk, eat, and smile would all change. Potential injuries when you don’t wear a mouthguard include chipped and broken teeth, fractured jaws, root damage, damage to crowns and bridgework, concussions, and/or injury to the lips, cheeks, or gums.

Types of Mouthguards

There are three different types of mouthguards — typically made of a soft plastic material or laminate. You can decide which works best for you in terms of budget, fit, and comfort.

  • Stock mouthguards are prefabricated to a standard size. They offer adequate protection, but you need to make sure you find one that fits properly and comfortably. Stock mouthguards are readily available at department stores, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards are placed in boiling water to soften them, then into the mouth so they can conform to the shape of the teeth. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are more expensive, but offer a more customized fit than stock ones. You can find these in department stores, pharmacies, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Custom-made mouthguards are created just for you by Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen. These offer the best fit and comfort of all the options, but they are also the most expensive. Ask a member of our Jacksonville, FL team for more information.

The American Dental Association says a good mouthguard should be easy to clean, fit properly, be comfortable, and resist tearing or damage. It shouldn’t restrict speech or breathing.

Still not sure if you need a mouthguard or which kind is right for you? Ask Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen or one of our staff members for more information.

What do I do if I fall and loosen my teeth?

December 5th, 2018

Although teeth are strong enough to tear through food, they are also fragile. An accident such as a fall may loosen teeth or knock a tooth out entirely. When a child loses a baby tooth in this manner, no permanent damage is usually done. However, adults who loosen permanent teeth may need to visit our Jacksonville, FL office.

The Anatomy of a Loose Tooth

The hard external layer of teeth covers a more vulnerable interior. The center of a tooth consists of the pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves. The entire tooth extends below the surface of the gums into the jaw. Special tissue called cementum and the periodontal ligament hold teeth in place, preventing them from moving.

When a fall or blow to the face loosens a tooth, the tissues anchoring a tooth to the jaw may be damaged. This results in a loosened tooth that wiggles in place. There may be inflammation or bleeding of the gums, which signals dental damage.

Dental Treatments for a Loose Tooth

The range of dental treatments for loose teeth varies by the severity of the problem. If your teeth are just slightly loose following a fall, it may be fine to wait a few days. Teeth often retighten on their own. Simply avoid chewing with that tooth and enjoy softer foods for a few days.

If a tooth is very loose or nearly falling out, call Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen immediately. Immediate placement of the tooth back into the socket is needed to ensure its survival. In general, a tooth must return to its socket within two hours or it may be lost.

In some cases, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen may recommend splinting, in which teeth are joined together to strengthen them and reduce strain on an individual tooth. Tightening or straightening the tooth can restore your ability to chew regularly without stressing the loosened tooth.

Regardless of the extent of the problem, it is essential to keep the tooth clean to prevent decay. Brush carefully with a soft-bristled brush, and use mouthwash regularly to kill bacteria.

Should You Get Dental Veneers?

November 28th, 2018

Dental veneers are a popular treatment to improve the appearance of your smile. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team want to help you understand whether this dental option is right for you.

Veneers, also known as laminates, are custom-made shells that cover the front of your teeth. They can change the color, size, or length of each individual tooth. The process can require between one and three trips to our Jacksonville, FL office to complete.

This treatment is usually done for people who want to change the appearance of their smile: they can get rid of stains, gaps, or chips. Here at our office, we know how getting veneers can dramatically change your smile and help improve your confidence.

Your initial appointment entails preparing the teeth and creating an impression. The impression will help us design each veneer to the exact shape and color you desire. You’ll come back in a week or two to have the veneers placed. Your veneers should last about ten years, as long as you practice proper care and hygiene.

There are plenty of benefits to getting veneers, but you should be aware of the potential downsides of this procedure. This process is irreversible and the veneers cannot usually be fixed. If they chip or crack, they’ll need to be replaced.

It is also possible for veneers to fall off due to excessive pressure from nail biting or chewing on ice. If you grind your teeth a lot, you’re more likely to expose your veneers to damage, which can be costly to repair.

In order to know whether veneers are right for you, schedule an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office for a consultation. We can decide what you’re looking to do with your smile and if this is the best option for you.

Is periodontal disease contagious?

November 21st, 2018

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of adults age 30 and over suffer from some form of gum disease. Caused by plaque buildup, gum disease is an infection of the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth. In its advanced stages, it is known as periodontal disease. If left untreated, it can result in the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth, causing teeth loss. It’s a preventable condition seen far too often by Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen.

Research between periodontal disease and other diseases is ongoing. Some studies have indicated that gum disease is linked to other health conditions such as stroke or diabetes. Furthermore, while most factors that lead to periodontal disease are dependent on the individual (genetics, diet, poor oral hygiene) there is a possibility that periodontitis is capable of spreading from one person to another.

What the Research Says

Periodontitis is a gum infection, and the bacteria that cause the gums to become infected travels in saliva. Researches have used DNA coding techniques to track the path of infection from one person to another. In other words, kissing and close contact play a role in the transmission of the infection, so if you’re married to a spouse with periodontal disease, then your chances of having gum problems are slightly increased. Other studies have indicated that saliva contact is common in family settings through coughing, sneezing, and shared utensils and food. Children with parents who have periodontal disease are at a somewhat higher risk of developing it. At the same time, just because you exchange bacteria with your loved ones doesn’t mean you will get periodontal disease.

It is important to note that the scientific evidence supporting the spread of periodontal disease is limited and ongoing. The best way to prevent gum disease is through proper plaque control, which includes brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and twice a year trips for professional cleanings. Contact our Jacksonville, FL office if you have any questions about periodontal disease.

Fewer Adults are Visiting the Dentist

November 14th, 2018

Our team at our office recently learned that in the decade between 2000 and 2010, the amount of adults who regularly visited their dentist declined, according to research released by the American Dental Association's Health Policy Resources Center (HPRC). In fact, the HPRC found that the percentage of adults who had regular checkups every six months declined from 41 percent in 2003 to 37 percent in 2010. The largest decline in dental care occurred in the 35- to 49-year-old age group. That’s down from 43 percent in 2003 to just 38 percent in 2010.

There is some good news, however. While adult visits may have decreased, children's visits were on the rise, particularly among low-income families. More low-income children are visiting the dentist now than they were ten years ago. And the HPRC notes that between 2000 and 2010, dental visits among low-income children increased in 47 states.

Have you ever wondered why the American Dental Association and Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen recommend that you come in for a dental checkup and cleaning every six months? While daily oral hygiene habits are essential to good oral health, professional dental cleanings at our office ensure your and your child’s teeth are treated to a deeper level of cleaning. In addition to a thorough cleaning and teeth polishing, regular visits at our Jacksonville, FL office help us detect and prevent the onset of tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. During your visit, we’ll check the health of your mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks, and tongue for symptoms of any oral disease. We will also check old fillings and restorations, as these can wear away over time from constant chewing, clenching, or grinding at night.

If you are predisposed to oral diseases due to age, pregnancy, tobacco use, or medical conditions such as diabetes or dry mouth, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen may recommend you visit our office more often than every six months.

If you are overdue for your next checkup and cleaning, please give us a call to schedule an appointment!

What is a cavity?

November 7th, 2018

Cavities are the reason why most people fear going to the dentist. But they’re also the reason you should be visiting Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen on a regular basis.

Specifically, cavities are the breakdown of teeth caused by acid from food, bacteria, and plaque that inhabit the inside of the mouth. While many people simply think that cavities only form on top of a tooth, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team at our office want you to know they can actually form on the sides along the gum line and between the teeth, too. This acid will eat away at the tooth, forming a soft hole.

Anybody, either children and adults, can get cavities. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. alone about 16 percent of all children ages six to 19 have untreated cavities, and about 24 percent of adults 20 to 64 years old have them. This is detrimental to overall oral health, because cavities have a tendency to grow over time, potentially spreading to other teeth and causing increased oral pain, possibly even affecting the nerve.

That's why it's important to ensure that you're visiting our office at least once every six months, so that cavities can be found and filled before they become too problematic and painful. Typically, they're found by doing a routine teeth cleaning, though X-rays or further examination may be necessary to determine the full extent of a cavity. Cavities are treated by removing the area of the tooth where decay has set in and rebuilding the tooth with a metal filling. If the cavity is too large, however, more extreme measures may be necessary, such as placing a crown or performing a root canal.

As we noted above, cavities are why people dread going to the dentist, but also the reason everyone should see the dentist every six months. Additionally, brushing twice daily, flossing, and cutting down on sugar-packed foods can reduce the risk of developing cavities.

For more information on how to best care for your teeth and why it's important to visit the dentist twice a year, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office today!

Is dairy crucial to my child's oral health?

October 31st, 2018

Healthy eating, combined with regular physical activity, plays a vital role in your child’s health and well-being. Dairy foods are naturally nutritious, packed with ten essential nutrients that help your child feel good for life. But did you know that dairy is also great for your child’s dental health? Our team at our office will tell you that, in addition to providing large amounts of much-needed calcium, dairy products also help fight cavities! Dairy products have a specific role to play in dental health as they contain a unique combination of special anti-decay nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and the protein, casein. Cheese is especially useful, as eating a small piece of cheese after consuming sugary foods or drinks can help protect teeth and reduce the risk of tooth decay.

If you’d like to know more about the importance of dairy products in your child’s diet, or about any aspect of your child’s dental health, feel free to ask Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen at your next appointment!

Best Ways to Prevent Bad Breath

October 24th, 2018

Nobody likes bad breath, and although it can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have it, it is always better to practice good oral health than risk having a smelly mouth. There are many ways to reduce or eliminate bad breath, some are definitely more effective and longer lasting than others. Check out ways to do so below.

Floss Regularly

As difficult as it can be to remember to floss regularly, when it comes to bad breath, flossing is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to freshen your mouth. See, flossing reduces the plaque and bacteria found in areas of your mouth that a toothbrush simply can't reach, and in turn, it rids your mouth of the smell associated with that bacteria. While flossing may not eliminate bad breath on its own, if you do it along with other health oral hygiene habits like brushing, then you may just develop a fresher smelling mouth.

Use Mouthwash

Using some sort of mouthwash can really freshen up your breath, especially if you find it still smells after brushing and flossing. There is a wide variety of mouthwash products on the market, however, you can also create your own by simply using baking soda mixed with water.

Always Brush after You Sleep

Whether after taking a nap, or having a full night of sleep, you will want to brush your teeth in order to reduce bad breath. The truth is, bacteria accumulates in your mouth while you are sleeping (even during a short nap) and that is ultimately the source of bad breath. So next time you wake from a good slumber, give your mouth some brushing and you will find it makes a big difference in the freshness of your breath.

There are many ways to freshen your breath beyond just using gum or mints, the above mentioned are just a few for you to try. Test them out and you will likely find your bad breath problem is solved, or at least considerably reduced. Of course, you can always ask Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen at your next visit to our Jacksonville, FL office.

Why are my gums shrinking?

October 17th, 2018

If you’ve noticed that your teeth have appeared to be longer, you may be suffering from gum recession. This is a common problem among adults, and can result from several factors. If gum recession seems to be happening in your mouth, schedule an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office. We will take a look and figure out the cause, and help you decide on the best treatment.

The first thing Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen will do is take measurements of the recession to see if the cause could be periodontal disease. Based on how much attached gingiva is present on the gums, a varying amount of gum recession will be present.

The less bone support you have for your teeth, the higher the chance of tooth loss will be. If you have a high likelihood of tooth loss, it’s critical to address the problem right away.

Gum recession can also be caused by stress-related issues that lead to jaw clenching and teeth grinding in the night. This added, ongoing pressure puts extra stress on your teeth, which flexes them at the gum line.

If this happens over a long period, microscopic breaks in your enamel will cause your gum line to move away from your teeth. An occlusal guard may serve as a solution to gum recession caused by teeth grinding. Talk to Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen about this option if you consistently wake up with jaw pain, headaches, or uncomfortable pressure on the sides of your face.

The way you brush and floss your teeth may also cause gum recession. If you’re an aggressive brusher, make sure to purchase toothbrushes labeled “soft.” It’s best to brush your teeth in a circular motion in order to sweep over all your gum lines and remove the most plaque. Generally, brushing in a straight line can leave spots of plaque that lead to periodontal disease, which is a common cause of gum recession.

There are several options for treatment of gum recession. Depending on the cause, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen will talk with you to decide the best treatment plan. Care may involve a deep cleaning or an antibiotic treatment. In serious cases, treatment might involve pocket-depth reduction, a soft tissue draft, or gum regeneration surgery.

These are just a few of the many potential causes of gum recession and how we can treat the problem. Unfortunately, gums do not grow back, and the consequences of ignoring this condition can be painful and time-consuming.

Please call our Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment if you’ve noticed any elongating of your teeth or recurring irritation of the gums. We will work as hard as possible to help rid you of your gum recession and prevent it from getting worse in the future.

Happy Halloween from Distinctive Dentistry

October 15th, 2018

We love an opportunity to get festive and Halloween is no exception. If you’ve visited the office lately, then you may have noticed our spooky decor. You may have also seen a Twix or two since that happens to be our favorite Halloween treat.

Last Halloween Dr. Mullens and Dr. Nguyen both came as dinosaurs and it was completely unplanned! It was a pretty great coincidence. Great minds, right? This year we will be dressing up as a variety of Disney characters, so stay tuned to see our costumes! You might spot some of your favorites.

Like many other Halloween enthusiasts, we can’t wait to rewatch some of our favorite seasonal movies. In our opinion, you can’t beat Hocus Pocus. It’s just the right amount of spooky and funny, and it never gets old.

We’re excited to hear about what costumes you’re coming up with this year and look forward to seeing you in the office soon!

What exactly is periodontal disease?

October 10th, 2018

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. Our team at our office wants you to know that this common ailment can be fixed with little worry if treated properly.

Periodontal disease is usually identified through dental X-rays, probe depths, and visual exams. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth sensitivity, premature tooth loss, or discomfort and pain in your mouth. Some common symptoms to watch for include bleeding or swollen gums, bad breath, teeth movement, or jaw displacement.

Factors that may increase your risk of developing periodontal disease may include poor oral hygiene, smoking/chewing tobacco, genetics, stress, inadequate nutrition, pregnancy, diabetes, and some medications. Some of these causes are avoidable, but others are not.

If you have diabetes, you may be more prone to periodontal disease due to the greater difficulty in controlling blood glucose levels. Studies have shown that once periodontal disease is treated, glucose levels become more responsive to control as well. If your risk for periodontal disease is heightened by one of these factors, make sure to watch for the signs and keep up with your daily oral hygiene routine.

How can you treat this common disease that affects almost half of the population? Depending on the severity, treatment can include a medicated mouth rinse, antibiotic treatment, laser therapy, or scaling and root planing. It’s useful to recall that this condition can vary from mild to severe, which is why you should make an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office if you notice any of the above symptoms.

 

Three Signs You May Have Gingivitis

October 3rd, 2018

Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, is an early stage of gum disease. If you have gingivitis, it’s important to visit Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen to get proper treatment, since home care isn’t enough to get rid of the plaque that leads to tartar and eventually to gum disease. Monitor yourself to see if you have these signs of gingivitis, and get help as soon as you can to prevent the progression to periodontitis. Your vigilance could save your teeth.

1. You have one or more risk factors.

Having risk factors for gingivitis doesn’t mean that you have or will get the disease, but it does mean that you should be especially watchful. You’re more likely to get gum disease if you have the following risk factors:

  • You are a smoker.
  • You are a female going through puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have a compromised immune system, as is the case if you have HIV/AIDS.
  • You have a family history of gum disease.

2. You have inflammation in your gums.

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums, and that is a tell-tale sign of the condition. Gingivitis or periodontitis can involve a bacterial infection, and inflammation is your body’s response to an injury or infection. The four standard signs of inflammation are pain, redness, swelling, and a higher temperature than normal.

If you have inflammation around your teeth, your gum disease may have progressed to the more serious condition of periodontitis. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen can evaluate your case using a scope, or small ruler. The ruler is used to measure the pockets around your teeth, with a depth of one to three millimeters being normal.

3. Your teeth seem to be moving around.

Loose teeth are a classic sign of periodontitis. You may also have them if you have gingivitis. They can occur when your gum line recedes, or as the result of having soft bone in your jaw.

You might also notice other signs of your teeth moving around. For example, they may seem to be oddly spaced, or they could be separating from each other. You might also notice that your partial dentures don’t fit properly anymore, even if they’re not that old.

Gingivitis is a very treatable condition, but you need the help of Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen to keep it in check. Contact our Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an exam today!

A Reflection on September Self-Care

October 2nd, 2018

Taking care of your physical and emotional needs should be a priority when it comes to getting work done. However, when people get busy, we find that self-care is usually the first thing to go. That’s why this September we celebrated Self-Care Awareness Month. We believe that self-care helps you enhance your health, manage your stress, and maintain a healthy relationship with yourself.

No matter how indulgent or fanciful the term may sound, self-care is crucial to our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. In our personal lives, we take the time to read, meditate, and especially exercise. We cannot stress enough the importance of taking care of our physical bodies! Even if you don’t have the time to go to the gym, little choices will add up. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes to eat healthily, use the stairs, and take every small opportunity to be active.

The key to self-care is having a self-care plan. Identifying activities that help you refocus on yourself and planning time for them will help you sustain positive self-care in the long run and even support your wellbeing as a professional. As an office, we practice self-care through regularly team-building events and encouraging employees to take sick days for their mental health.

As September reaches a close and the holiday season upon us, we hope that you will remember these lessons of self-care and that you’ll make time to see us in the office soon!

How Sedation Dentistry Can Help You Overcome Dental Anxiety

September 26th, 2018

Putting off your dental visit to our office because of fear or anxiety only increases the potential for tooth decay or gum problems. At our office, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team offer solutions that allow you to relax, without any pain, so you can keep your mouth healthy. Our solutions can help with many different anxiety issues for both adults and children.

Help with minor anxiety

Nitrous oxide is an excellent choice for most patients. Sometimes referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide can be regulated to provide you with the amount of sedation you need. When used before a local anesthetic, the injection will not be uncomfortable and you should not notice any pain during your procedure.

If you plan to use nitrous oxide, you can drive yourself to your appointment. In most cases, you will be fine to drive after your treatment: the sedation wears off quickly. Nitrous oxide can also be used along with other sedation techniques to produce a higher level of sedation.

Oral sedatives are available in a liquid or pill form. If you experience moderate anxiety levels, you can be given a tablet to take before your appointment. This type of sedation will be beneficial in relieving the anxiety that can build before your procedure. However, if you choose this method, you cannot drive yourself to your appointment.

Help with major dental anxiety

If you experience extreme levels of stress and anxiety about dental treatment, you may wish to discuss deep sedation or general anesthesia. With these techniques, you will be barely conscious or unconscious during your procedure. You will not feel discomfort or pain. Once you have experienced dentistry with a sedation technique, your anxiety level may decrease on its own.

People are not born with the fear of a dental exam. Unfortunately, most anxiety issues are due to a bad dental experience or childhood trauma. Sometimes anxiety comes from listening to the tales of others, who may have exaggerated their story. Talk to Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team about your dental concerns or fears. Let us help you so you can get the dental care you need for a healthy mouth for life.

For more information about overcoming dental anxiety, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

What is Nitrous Oxide?

September 19th, 2018

Many of our young patients experience anxiety during dental appointments. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team want to help your child overcome any fear he or she may feel when coming in for regular visits.

If you know your child suffers from anxiety during dental checkups, nitrous oxide sedation, popularly known as “laughing gas,” may be helpful. Nitrous oxide can be used during many types of dental procedures.

It has a sweet odor and taste, and gets mixed with oxygen when supplied through a mask. The effects typically kick in within a few minutes and leave your child feeling calm and relaxed.

Nitrous is helpful because your child will stay conscious and able to move and answer questions the doctor may ask. The drug is also convenient because the effects go away within a few minutes after the mask is removed.

Nitrous oxide is not dangerous when it’s combined with oxygen. It is non-addictive and non-allergenic. When used properly, nitrous oxide reduces anxiety, while allowing continued communication between the patient and dentist during a procedure. It can also help alleviate pain or discomfort during exams.

You should know that nitrous oxide may cause nausea in up to ten percent of patients. This drug is not recommended for people who suffer from certain medical conditions. We recommend discussing this method with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen if your child's dental anxiety begins to interfere with his or her appointments.

We want all our patients to feel comfortable during their care. Talk with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen at your child's next appointment to find out if nitrous oxide is an option. If you have questions regarding nitrous oxide, call our Jacksonville, FL location and we’ll be happy to answer them.

 

Baby Teeth and Cavities

September 12th, 2018

We know how frustrating it can be to discover your child has one or more cavities when you come to visit our office. There are several ways to prevent baby teeth from forming cavities due to decay. Not to worry: If your child does develop a cavity on a baby tooth, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen can help take care of the problem.

Let’s look at how cavities on your little one’s teeth can be prevented from developing in the first place. Most often, children suffer decay from eating sugary foods. You may think, “My child doesn’t eat lots of candy!” In truth, fruits and juices have plenty of natural sugars that can break down teeth if they aren’t brushed thoroughly.

A well-balanced diet that includes calcium and phosphorous is necessary to keep your child’s oral health in a good state. If your son or daughter drinks juice, avoid giving it before bedtime and dilute the juice with water. Good options for snacks include vegetables, low-sugar yogurt or dairy products, and plenty of milk for healthy teeth.

Another excellent preventive strategy consists of scheduling regular appointments with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen for your child. Between your youngster’s annual cleanings, make sure he or she brushes and flosses every day. It’s worthwhile for your little one to brush thoroughly for at least two minutes to remove any decay or plaque that has accumulated in the mouth, especially before bedtime.

Brushing Techniques

  • Move the brush both back and forth, and in circular gentle strokes.
  • Brush the outer surfaces, inside surfaces, and chewing surfaces of all teeth.
  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Brush the tongue to remove excess bacteria and keep breath fresh.

It’s not always possible to prevent cavities from appearing in your son or daughter’s mouth. If your child does develop a cavity, our staff will notify you during the regular scheduled cleaning.

The cavity will need to be eliminated, even when it appears on a baby tooth. Our staff will remove the decayed part of the tooth and fill in the hole so your child doesn’t have to experience any pain.

You may wonder why a baby tooth has to be fixed if it is eventually going to fall out. Baby teeth hold spaces where your child’s permanent teeth have to grow in. If the former aren’t taken care of, multiple teeth may shift and the permanent ones won’t be able to grow in properly.

If you still have questions or concerns about your child’s baby teeth, or notice signs of a cavity, please don’t hesitate to contact our Jacksonville, FL office and schedule an appointment. Remember, preventive steps can be taken to avoid bothersome cavities from forming in your child’s mouth.

Stress and Your Oral Health

September 5th, 2018

Stress symptoms—which include high blood pressure, severe aches, and insomnia—may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is the culprit when in fact stress may actually be the reason. While stress can be good for us sometimes, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team know stress can be physically harmful. But what is often overlooked is that stress can also take a toll on your mouth. Here’s how:

Teeth Grinding

It’s not uncommon for people dealing with stress to develop teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. People who grind their teeth at night may do so unconsciously, but the condition requires treatment to prevent the development of headaches, TMJ, and tooth damage. If you’re a night-grinder, talk to Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen. We may recommend a night guard.

Mouth Sores

Research suggests stress and depression harm your immune system, making it easier for infections to develop and stick around. That can mean canker sores or a cold sore outbreak. If mouth sores are a recurring problem for you, give us a call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen.

Bad Habits

Stress can lead to bad oral health habits such as smoking, drinking, and neglecting your daily brushing and flossing routine. If you’ve been feeling under pressure lately, try to keep up with your oral health routine—it will serve you well when your stress levels return to normal.

Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team at our office know there’s not always an easy way to reduce your stress levels, but eating healthy, exercising regularly, and spending time with friends and family are all good places to start.

How a High-Tech Office Helps Your Dental Treatment

August 29th, 2018

A dental office on the cutting edge of technology offers numerous benefits to its patients. Whether you are in need of a simple cleaning or extensive restorative work, these technologies will help you stay more comfortable and give you better results than the outdated tools used in many offices. Here are some of the technologies that you can expect to see in our modern dental office:

  • Digital radiography – Digital X-rays and imaging expose patients to far less radiation than traditional X-rays. Not only that, but these digital images provide a more detailed and easier-to-view snapshot of what is going on in and around your teeth. They make it easier for patients to see what's going on since we can show them right on the computer monitor. It's also better for the environment because there’s no need for the toxic chemicals used to develop traditional X-ray films.
  • Panoramic X-rays – This digital X-ray gives Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen a more in-depth understanding of the entire structure of your mouth and head than a regular X-ray. The panoramic X-ray machine rotates around your head and takes a 3D image of it, giving us a very complete picture that allows for more effective and timely treatment planning.
  • Bioceramic implants, prosthetic devices, and sealants – Advances in implants and prosthetic devices over the past several decades has led to the creation of bioceramic (nontoxic) materials ideal for crowns, veneers, and implants. These materials allow for more visually appealing dental work since there are no metals used with these high-tech ceramics.
  • Paperless bills and records – We all know the inconvenience of paper bills and receipts; they can create clutter and get lost. Our office has done away with this trouble by going paperless. This means you'll receive all your pertinent paperwork in your email inbox and records will be kept digitally at the office. No more wall full of patient records!

This is just an overview of the many advances that we’ve made to our Jacksonville, FL office to make it cleaner, quieter, more comfortable, and more efficient, helping you spend less time in the chair and more time smiling!

Happy National Dog Day!

August 26th, 2018

Our staff at Mullens & Nguyen Dentistry loves pets! In honor of National Dog Day, we’re highlighting Liz, our treatment plan coordinator, and her sweet pup.

Liz has had her furry companion, Chelsea, for four months now. She had always planned on having a dog because of their loving nature and companionship. Chelsea loves to play catch and snuggle. Her middle name is French Fry, to match Liz’s friend’s dog who is named Tater Tot. Chelsea basically has a built-in best friend already!

Liz will be spoiling Chelsea with some dog-friendly cake to celebrate National Dog Day. If you’ve got any furry friends of your own, we hope you’re spoiling them a little extra today!

Five Easy Ways to Prevent Gum Disease

August 22nd, 2018

Gum disease can be painful and lead to missing teeth if you don’t treat it properly. However, there are plenty of things you can do to lower your risk of getting gingivitis and periodontitis. Here are five easy ways to prevent gum disease.

1. Brush your teeth.

Basic oral hygiene is the first line of defense against gum disease. The reason is due to the way gum disease progresses. There are bacteria in your mouth that produce a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque can build up and form tartar. Together, plaque and tartar lead to the painful symptoms of gum disease. You can remove plaque from your teeth with regular careful brushing, but you can’t remove the tartar with your regular toothbrush. So, it’s best to brush at least twice a day, or after each meal, to continuously remove plaque from your teeth. Also floss your teeth and use mouthwash to prevent the bacteria in your mouth from having anything to eat.

2. Stop smoking.

Smoking is a major risk factor for gum disease. Your risk of getting gum disease if you’re not a smoker is one-seventh the risk of someone who does use tobacco. It’s also worth quitting smoking even once you do get gum disease, since treatment is less effective when you’re using tobacco.

3. Eat right.

Gingivitis is a bacterial infection, and a strong immune system helps fight it. Many nutrients are essential for a well-functioning immune system. For example, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, broccoli, and strawberries, for their vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. Vitamin E, which is another antioxidant, is in nuts, plant-based oils, and wheat germ.

4. Visit our Jacksonville, FL office regularly.

You might not be able to detect that you have gum disease, even if you watch for symptoms. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen can detect signs of gum disease before you do.

5. Catch it early.

Since only we can remove tartar once it forms, keep watching for signs of gum disease. They include sensitivity while brushing your teeth or when eating hot, cold, or sugary foods, painful or bleeding gums, and loose teeth. You might also notice that you have bad breath for no reason. Make an appointment with at our Jacksonville, FL office if you think you may have gum disease.

The Secret to Keeping Your Teeth for Life

August 15th, 2018

The secret to keeping your teeth for life involves more than one secret. The first is that there is no secret; and in fact, there really is no difficulty involved. Follow this simple four-step process – brush, floss, rinse, and visit our Jacksonville, FL office regularly – and you will have healthy teeth for life!

Brush

You should brush your teeth twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once at night. Three times a day will not hurt. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and light pressure; you do not want to scrub away your gums or tooth enamel.

Brush for a minimum of two minutes, and carefully clean all tooth surfaces. Three minutes is better. Use quality toothpaste; Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our staff can recommend the best type for your needs. Keep your toothbrush clean and replace it about every three months.

Floss

Make flossing part of your daily routine, at least once a day. Flossing is important for more than just removing food particles between your teeth. The process also helps to remove bacteria that you cannot see. Bacterial build-up turns into plaque, or calculus: a cement-like substance that cannot be removed by brushing alone.

Use floss gently; you do not want to cut your gums. There are many different types of flosses and flossing tools. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our staff will be happy to help you find the style that works best for you.

Rinse

Mouthwash does more than freshen your breath. Rinses help kill the bacteria that lead to plaque formation and gum disease. This extra step can go a long way toward having healthy teeth for life.

Keep your appointments

You should have a professional cleaning at our office twice a year. Some patients benefit from more frequent cleanings. Your hygienist will remove any plaque build-up to prevent gingivitis, which left untreated becomes full-blown gum disease. Periodontitis leads to tooth loss.

You also need to see Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen twice a year for a teeth and mouth exam. We can find problems such as cavities, and treat them before the situation becomes critical. Ask our Jacksonville, FL team any questions you have; together we can make your teeth last for life.

Top Reasons People Choose Veneers

August 8th, 2018

Dental veneers are a way to correct and transform your smile by using “contact lens”-thin shells of porcelain or ceramic material and bonding them to the front of your teeth. They are strong and durable, look and feel like natural teeth, and improve your smile immediately. Here are some of the top reasons to consider getting dental veneers.

They Correct Multiple Cosmetic Issues

Dental veneers can help with cosmetic and dental health issues, and treat multiple problems at once. Some common reasons that individuals choose veneers is to close gaps and spaces between the teeth, fix alignment issues, change the overall shape and appearance of a tooth, whiten a smile by covering stained or discolored teeth, and cover chipped or cracked teeth.

If you have teeth that are already worn down and weakened, veneers help prevent further damage by covering them with a thin, tooth-colored shell.

Durability

Dental veneers are also extremely durable. They last several years longer than traditional composite fillings. You’ll have peace of mind when you choose veneers, knowing that you’ll have your new smile for many years. On average, dental veneers last about ten to 15 years. Just like your natural teeth, when you take good care of your veneers, they last longer.

Easy to Clean and Maintain

Keeping your veneers healthy and white is easy: You simply brush and floss them the way you do all of your teeth. Shortly after having your veneers installed, you’ll begin to think of them as your natural teeth because the thin shells lie right on top of your existing teeth. This makes it easy to floss and brush the way you normally would and keep them as clean as possible.

The Process is Simple

Getting dental veneers is a quick and easy process. You have a few short visits at our office and see results. On average, it only takes about four weeks from your first appointment to your last to complete the veneer process.

If you are considering getting dental veneers, schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen to find out exactly how they can benefit you.

Do adults need fluoride treatments?

August 1st, 2018

Many dentists and hygienists recommend fluoride treatments for their adult patients. You might ask yourself, “Do I really need a fluoride treatment? I thought those were just for my kids.” After all, most insurance plans cover fluoride treatments only up to the age of 18.

What you need to know as a dental consumer is that studies have shown topical fluoride applications performed by a dental professional create a significant benefit for adults who have moderate to high risk for cavities.

There are several circumstances that warrant extra fluoride protection among adults. Many prescription medications reduce saliva flow or otherwise create dry mouth. A reduction in saliva increases cavity risk.

Adults often experience gum recession, which exposes part of the root surface of teeth. These areas are softer than the hard enamel at the top of the tooth, which makes them more susceptible to decay.

In addition, adults often get restorative work such as crowns or bridges. Fluoride can help protect the margins of these restorations, ultimately protecting your investment.

Today many people opt for orthodontic treatment (braces) as adults. Braces make it more challenging for patients to maintain good oral hygiene. Just ask your kids! Fluoride can keep the teeth strong and cavity-free even with the obstacle of orthodontic appliances.

Have you had a restoration done within the last year due to new decay? If you have, that puts you at a higher risk for cavities. Fluoride treatments are a great way to prevent more cavities in patients who are already prone to them.

How is that flossing coming along? You know you should floss daily, but do you? If your oral hygiene is not ideal, fluoride could be just the thing to keep your neglect from leading to cavities between your teeth.

Fluoride can also help with the growing problem of sensitive teeth. Diets high in acidic foods and beverages, general gum recession, and increased use of whitening products all tend to produce sensitive teeth. Fluoride treatments re-mineralize tooth enamel and reduce that sensitivity.

Patients who undergo radiation treatment for cancer also benefit from topical fluoride applications. Radiation damages saliva glands, thus greatly reducing the flow of saliva. Saliva acts as a buffer against the foods we eat and beverages we drink. Once again, less saliva greatly increases the risk of cavities.

If one or more of these conditions applies to you, consider requesting a topical fluoride treatment. Be sure to ask Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen at your next appointment whether you might benefit from a topical fluoride application.

When should a filling be replaced?

July 25th, 2018

There is no substitution for a natural healthy tooth. Dental fillings are intended to replace tooth structure and restore a tooth damaged by decay (a cavity) back to its normal function and shape. Silver (amalgam) and tooth-colored (composite) fillings last a long time, though they can develop decay when the integrity is compromised by open margins, fracture, or recurrent decay. In this blog, we discuss the signs and symptoms that indicate your filling may need to be replaced in order to prevent further complications.

Amalgam fillings are made of an alloy (mixed metals) that expands and contracts. They have no bonding properties, and so to place an amalgam filling, the hole in the tooth may need to be larger. Because of these two factors, fractures frequently occur. There are three types of cracks that are commonly associated. Craze lines are superficial with no treatment needed. Fractures extend along other parts of the tooth and may require a filling replacement or crown. Cracks extend toward the root and can require a root canal and crown or, if too severe, extraction.

A filing needs to be sealed to the tooth. If the seal between the tooth and the filling breaks down, food debris and bacteria can seep down under the filling and cause recurrent decay. If the decay is treated early, replacing the filling is adequate. If not, a crown and even a root canal may be needed. The biggest mistake you can make is waiting to do something about a broken or unsealed filling until it is painful. Doing this will only make the treatment more involved and often times more expensive.

Regular dental exams and X-rays are used to evaluate dental fillings. You will not be able to tell on your own when your fillings start to fail. Just as a car mechanic will change the oil, correct your alignment, or change your tires, a dental checkup will help you identify small concerns to fix as you go in order to avoid a critical emergency.

Pay attention to any bite or temperature sensitivity in teeth that have fillings. This can be an indicator for some of the problems listed above. You know your teeth better than anyone. Your observations are most valuable when evaluating a filling for replacement. If replacement is needed, know you are doing what is best to prevent future dental calamities and make an appointment to see Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen.

Practicing the Art of Dentistry

July 20th, 2018

(Click to enlarge the article)

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

July 18th, 2018

Depending on how long the thumb sucking or constant pacifier use continues, and how aggressively the child sucks a thumb or the pacifier, it can indeed be an oral health issue. Generally speaking, most children outgrow these behaviors or are able to be weaned off them successfully sometime between ages two and four. When children wean off the behaviors in this age range, long-term damage is unlikely.

Why Kids Suck Their Thumb or Pacifier

Both of these habits are actually a form of self soothing that your child likely uses when he or she is very upset, or feeling stressed, confused, frustrated, or unable to properly express the emotions. If your son or daughters is a regular thumb sucker, or the child wants to use the pacifier almost constantly, it is best to try to taper off these habits at a young age.

If your child continues to suck a thumb or request a pacifier consistently after leaving toddler-hood, this could be a source of concern, and it should be addressed with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our staff. We will be able to evaluate your child's mouth to look for any signs of damage such as palate changes or teeth shifting.

Say Goodbye to Old Habits

In the event that your child is quite reluctant to give up a pacifier or thumb-sucking habit, there are a few things you can do to discourage these behaviors.

  • When you notice that your child is not using a pacifier or sucking a thumb, offer effusive praise. This type of positive reinforcement can be much more effective than scolding the child.
  • Consider instituting a reward system for giving up the habit. If the child goes a certain amount of time without this behavior, award him or her for being such a “big kid.”
  • Employ the help of older siblings or relatives that your child admires. When a child’s role model says that he or she stopped sucking thumbs at a certain age, your child is likely to try to emulate that.

Teeth Grinding

July 11th, 2018

If you are waking up with jaw pain, tension headaches, or facial pain, you may be suffering from a condition known as bruxism. This means you could be grinding or clenching your teeth while you sleep. Some people aren’t even aware they are grinding or clenching their teeth at night, until a visit to us reveals significant tooth enamel loss. Fortunately, there is a non-invasive and effective solution for teeth grinding, and the tooth enamel damage it can cause, in custom-fabricated nightguards.

Causes of teeth grinding

Tension, stress, and anxiety experienced during the daytime can carry over to an individual’s sleep, and lead the person to grind his or her teeth together or clench the teeth unknowingly. Sleep apnea is another condition that can result in bruxism. Regardless of the cause, however, frequent clenching and teeth grinding wears down the chewing surfaces of the teeth, reduces tooth enamel, and can result in a cracked or chipped tooth, crown, or filling.

Nightguards for teeth grinding

Custom nightguards are fabricated to fit like a glove and protect your teeth from the adverse effects of bruxism. Nightguards are created through a non-invasive process that simply takes an impression of the bottom and top rows of teeth. The result is a nightguard that is flexible, comfortable, and personalized to your mouth.

Benefits of nightguards

Nightguards are helpful to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of dental damage incurred as a result of teeth grinding. They can reduce the discomfort associated with a sore jaw, headaches, tooth sensitivity, ear pain, and facial pain that many patients experience as a result of clenching or grinding of their teeth. In severe cases of bruxism, patients can develop loss of hearing, jawbone misalignment, and TMJ. Therefore, customized nightguards can help prevent the progression of teeth grinding into these more serious conditions.

At-home tips to reduce or prevent teeth grinding

Although it’s important to wear your nightguard faithfully if you grind your teeth at night, you can follow a few self-care tips to help to prevent your teeth grinding from worsening.

  • Reduce tension and stress. Whether you take a warm bath before bed, listen to soothing music, or exercise, practice stress-relieving activities to wash away the tensions of the day.
  • Avoid alcohol. In some patients, alcohol increases teeth grinding tendencies.
  • Avoid caffeine. In some individuals, caffeine increases the likelihood of teeth grinding.
  • Focus on relaxing jaw muscles. Make a conscious effort to keep your jaw relaxed. A warm washcloth against your cheek, sticking your tongue between your teeth, and avoiding chewing pencils, pens, and gum are all ways to train the muscles of your jaw to stay relaxed.

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth at night, visit Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team at our office for an evaluation at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office.

Steer clear of that candy!

July 4th, 2018

At our office, we know how tempting candy can sometimes be on our sweet tooth, but it’s important to remember that every candy and sugary treat you consume elevates your risk of developing tooth decay, which can break down your teeth.

While not all bad in moderation, when eaten in excess, candy can lead to big problems, especially if good oral hygiene habits are not followed. We have a few helpful tips if you just can’t stay away from all those treats:

1. Consume candy and other sweets during meals when your saliva can help neutralize the acids that are found in some candies, especially the sour variety.

2. Avoid sticky or hard candies, which can stay in your mouth longer than you think, resulting in acids being constantly exposed to your teeth. That leads to cavities and tooth decay.

3. Make sure the water you drink is fluoridated. Water that is fluoridated has been shown to help prevent cavities.

4. Make sure to maintain your daily oral hygiene habits. This includes brushing twice a day, and flossing at least once.

5. Visit our office twice a year for regular dental checkups and cleanings with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen. During your visit, we can help catch problems such as cavities early to reduce the effects they have on your teeth, as well as give you tips for improving your oral health.

We hope these tips have helped! To learn more about cavity prevention, or to schedule your next visit at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office, please give us a call!

What are dental implants?

June 27th, 2018

Do you have a space where a tooth used to be? Were you born with a missing tooth? Are you getting ready for dentures? You may be a good candidate for a dental implant. Metal dental implants were invented in 1965. Technology continues to advance with millions of implants placed in the United States and Canada. Placing implants has become mainstream and a common practice for offices like ours.

A dental implant is a small titanium post, which resembles a screw with threads. The post also has holes for bone to integrate. A dental implant is placed into the jawbone during a short dental procedure. It is relatively painless with very little post-operative pain. The threads on the implant post allow for the bone to fill in and integrate. To facilitate this process the implant is re-covered with gum tissue and allowed to heal and integrate for nearly three months. The implant acts as the root for the tooth to provide solid and stable support for the crown that’s yet to be placed.

The next step in the dental procedure is to uncover the implant and place a healing cap to allow the gum tissue to heal. After a short period of healing, an impression is taken to fabricate a crown to fully restore the missing tooth. The crown is then cemented on top of the post, at which point you can resume normal eating activities.

Dental implants do require some special care, but that is easily managed when you follow the directions outlined by Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen. During your regularly scheduled cleaning, special instruments are used to clean implants. While a dental implant cannot get a cavity, a condition known as peri-implantitis can occur. This is very similar to periodontal disease as the end result is dental implant loss and loss of bone structure. Be sure to floss the dental implant daily and run the floss under the implant crown as far as it can go to remove food and plaque. If you use any picks or small brushes to go in between your teeth, make sure they are plastic. Metal will scratch the implant making it more susceptible to infection. Be sure to keep your regular dental visits and cleanings to monitor the implant and help preserve your investment.

Good Teeth Lead to Sporting Success

June 20th, 2018

You already know that taking care of your teeth can help prevent tooth decay and the need for extensive work such as root canals or implants, which can be inconvenient and expensive. But the benefits of good teeth can go far beyond having an attractive smile and being able to crunch carrots and chew meat.

The American Dental Association explains that healthy teeth are linked to a lower risk for heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, recent research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine states that good teeth can improve athletic performance among elite athletes.

Researchers examined the oral health of nearly 300 athletes in 25 sports at the 2012 Olympics in London. They looked for conditions such as dental caries, gingivitis, dental erosion, and periodontal disease, and asked about recent visits to a dentist.

Study investigators also asked athletes whether their oral health interfered with quality of life or athletic training and performance. The study concluded that poor oral health and fewer dental visits led to interference with preparation for competition.

This can happen for a few reasons. Tooth pain can disrupt sleep, which leads to slower reaction times. Oral health conditions can indicate chronic inflammation in the body, which means suboptimal performances on an elite level. Tooth pain can interfere with focus during training and competition.

Unfortunately, merely taking good care of your teeth won’t turn you into an Olympic gold medalist. However, the benefits can still be worthwhile. Even if healthy teeth provide little if any detectable gain in your athletic abilities, the potential benefits of maintaining a healthy mouth clearly go far beyond an attractive smile.

Practicing good oral hygiene and seeing Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen regularly can promote your physical health, and maybe – just maybe – you will start to achieve an advantage over your weekend athletic opponents.

Is Your Broken Tooth An Emergency?

June 13th, 2018

When you chip a tooth badly, it can be a very nerve-wracking situation. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team want to provide you with some information that can help if you ever suffer a chipped or broken tooth. The most common ways people break their teeth are by biting down on something hard, getting hit in the mouth, falling down, or developing cavities that weaken the tooth and allow it to be broken easily. There are a few things you can do if you find yourself in this situation, however.

First, we recommend that you investigate whether the tooth is partially chipped or completely broken. Unless you are experiencing a lot of pain or bleeding, this should not be treated as an emergency. You may call our office and we will try to schedule an appointment with you as soon as possible. Once we have evaluated the tooth during your appointment, we can start to treat it. For minor chips or cracks, we may simply smooth out the area or fill in the space so the crack doesn’t spread.

If your teeth show severe damage such as a serious break, split tooth, split root, or a decay-induced break, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen may need to take more time to fix the problem. If you need emergency dental care because a tooth has fallen out, call our practice immediately to schedule an appointment for that day. If you’re waiting for an emergency appointment, you can rinse your mouth with warm salt water and apply slight pressure to the area to stop the bleeding. We recommend using an ice pack to reduce swelling, but do not take any aspirin because that may increase the bleeding.

If your tooth has completely fallen out of the socket, hold it by the crown and rinse it under running water. Do not let the tooth become dry; instead, place it in salt water or milk until you get to our office. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen will determine whether the broken tooth can be salvaged or will need to be completely replaced.

We know how upsetting it can be to chip or break a tooth, which is why we want to guide you through this process. Most chipped teeth are usually just cosmetic problems, fortunately, but we know that dental emergencies can come up rather suddenly. Be sure to schedule an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office as soon as an emergency situation occurs.

Breaking Bad Oral Habits

June 6th, 2018

The effects of bad oral habits are something our team sees all too often. You might have bad oral habits that stem from childhood, possibly because your parents did not know about proper oral care or force you to follow it. Or, your bad habits could develop gradually, like slacking on your frequency of brushing.

Bad oral habits can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and consequences such as losing teeth and experiencing bad pain. They may be deeply ingrained and easy to continue, but you can break them with a little effort. Focus on developing good habits to replace your current ones, and eating a diet that is healthy for your teeth.

Replace Bad Habits with Good

Breaking your bad oral habits may not be as difficult as you expect when you focus instead on developing good habits. These new good habits can naturally replace your bad habits.

  • Brush your teeth after each meal or at least twice a day.
  • Visit a dentist every six months for an exam and a professional cleaning.
  • Floss your teeth every day.

These good habits may not seem natural, so you can take steps to make sure you follow these behaviors. For example, make a daily checklist with your scheduled sessions of brushing and flossing your teeth and using mouthwash. You can also set a timer to be sure you brush your teeth for the full recommended two minutes.

Eat Properly

Poor eating habits can be detrimental to your teeth. A common mistake is to let food, especially carbohydrates such as starch and sugar, stay on your teeth for a long time. You can stop doing this by rinsing your mouth with water after each meal or snack. Also, avoid candy and soft drinks between meals, since the sugar sits on your teeth.

A healthy diet provides the nutrients you need to maintain strong teeth. The mineral calcium is key for healthy teeth, so try to get your three daily servings of high-calcium foods, such as low-fat milk or yogurt, canned fish, or fortified soy or almond milk. Also include vegetables and fruits, which have a high water content.

If you need more tips about breaking your bad oral health habits, contact our Jacksonville, FL office and speak with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen or a member of our team.

Is Coffee Damaging Your Smile?

May 30th, 2018

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Many people have a cup, or two, or even three a day. It’s common to drink it in the morning to wake up and get ready for the day, as an afternoon pick-me-up, or just to catch up with a coworker or friend.

These days there are many different kinds of coffee flavors to enjoy, so it’s almost impossible for a person not to like it. But as delicious as coffee is, it’s worthwhile to be aware of the effects it has on our dental health.

Coffee contains a lot of tannic acid, which is what causes its dark color. Tannic acid ingrains itself into the grooves of tooth enamel, and that leads to serious stains. In addition to containing tannic acid, the fact that coffee is generally served very hot makes your teeth expand and contract, which allows the stains to penetrate even farther into the enamel.

Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team know it’s not easy to kick the caffeine habit. If you find yourself needing a cup of joe every day, here are some helpful tips to consider:

  • Switch to decaf coffee.
  • Make it a habit to drink a glass of water with your coffee to rinse away the acid.
  • Try enjoying your coffee with a straw so the tannic acid makes less contact with your front and lower teeth.
  • Pop in a piece of gum after your coffee to help prevent a dry mouth.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you might find that setting a limit on the number of cups of coffee you have per week or even per day can be helpful. You are always welcome to contact our Jacksonville, FL office to discuss potential whitening options as well. We’re here to help!

Antibiotic Prophylaxis or Pre-Medication

May 23rd, 2018

At our office, we know the human mouth contains a lot of bacteria. A bacterium can travel through your body with routine activities that are a normal part of daily living. You spread bacteria when you brush or floss your teeth, when you chew, and when you swallow.

For most people, bacteria don’t cause any problem. For some people, however, especially those who have chronic medical conditions, specific cardiac conditions, or whose immune systems are compromised, bacteria that spreads throughout the bloodstream can lead to much more serious bacterial infections.

The goal of pre-medication or antibiotic prophylaxis, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen will tell you, is to prevent bacterial endocarditis, a serious infection of the endothelial heart surfaces or the heart valves. The condition is also called infective endocarditis. A small population of people with certain health problems has a high risk for contracting this potentially deadly bacterium.

The American Heart Association states that people at greatest risk for contracting bacterial or infective endocarditis are:

  • Patients who underwent cardiac valve surgery in the past
  • Those who have suffered past incidents of infective endocarditis
  • Patients who have mitral valve prolapse, resulting in or causing valve leakage
  • People who have had rheumatic fever or any degenerative cardiac condition that produces abnormalities in cardiac valves
  • Patients who suffer from certain congenital heart diseases

For these patients, any dental procedure may cause bleeding, and prophylactic antibiotic administration is recommended as a preventive measure.

Other patients who require prophylactic antibiotics

The American Association of Endodontists extends recommendations to patients who have undergone joint replacement surgery within the past two years, suffer from type 1 diabetes, or have immune deficiencies from diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or HIV; cancer patients whose immune systems are suppressed because of radiation or chemotherapy; people who have had organ transplants; and hemophiliacs.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry also includes people who suffer from sickle cell anemia, as well as patients who suffer from conditions that require chronic steroid therapy.

Typical endodontic procedures for which antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended include root canal therapy (when it involves going deeper than the root apex), surgical tooth extractions, and any other dental, endodontic, or periodontal procedure during which the doctor anticipates bleeding.

Although different medical societies and organizations offer these guidelines as a way of identifying patients for whom prophylactic pre-medication is essential prior to dental procedures, dentists will take each patient's medical history and personal risk factors into consideration. Some doctors may choose to administer antibiotics following a procedure, especially for patients who have previously suffered from oral infections either as a result of dental procedures or that necessitated oral surgery.

For more information about antibiotic prophylaxis, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

The Benefits of a Bright Smile

May 16th, 2018

Having a nice, bright smile can affect the way you look, and in turn, improve how you feel about yourself. With the help of Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen to provide you with a whitening treatment, you won’t have to be afraid to show your smile any longer.

It’s been shown that the first thing people typically notice is a person’s smile. Though many people don’t like to admit it, humans often judge others first on their looks.

Over time, your teeth may become stained from foods and beverages. Teeth-whitening techniques can be an effective solution to restore confidence in your smile and your life. Our team is here to help you regain your smile with brightened teeth that have been affected by wear.

Your smile can affect:

  • Personal and work-related relationships
  • Job interviews and meetings
  • Success dealing with customers and potential clients
  • Your confidence and general happiness
  • Overall outlook on daily interactions

Regaining confidence in your smile can be helpful in all these areas of your life and more. If you think your smile has been holding you back, it may be beneficial to restore your white teeth with the help of our office.

If you’re interested in enhancing your smile, feel free to reach out to our Jacksonville, FL office and we will be happy to go over the whitening options we provide.

Children and Halitosis

May 9th, 2018

Many parents are unaware that children can also suffer from symptoms of halitosis, better known as chronic bad breath. This common oral problem affects a majority of the population, including both adults and children. During treatment for this condition, it’s worthwhile to focus on the cause of the problem. Take a look at the most common reasons why your child might develop bad breath.

Having constant bad breath can be embarrassing and troublesome. Most often, boys and girls develop halitosis as a side effect of some sort of upper respiratory infection. It may be a common cold, allergies, or flu symptoms.

When the nasal passages are blocked, it’s more likely that your child will breathe through the mouth. Mouth breathing may also occur if your youngster is put on medication that decreases saliva flow. Mouth breathing can make bad breath much worse if there isn’t enough saliva to cleanse the area.

Another cause of halitosis in children can be tonsillitis. When your child’s airway is constricted, he or she is more likely to mouth-breath. When the tissues in your mouth dry out, bacteria will grow and increase in potency. If you notice symptoms of tonsillitis in your child such as a fever, swollen throat, trouble swallowing, chills, or congestion, get your little one to treatment right away.

Halitosis in children is can also be caused by an infection of the mouth. If your child’s teeth or gums are infected, odor will developed if untreated. Infection can occur due to inadequate brushing and flossing, which can lead to gum disease or cavities. If cavities are left untreated, they can develop a strong, noticeable odor. If you think your child has an infection or cavity, contact our office and schedule an appointment.

Other causes of halitosis may be certain pungent foods your child eats, or bacteria built up on the tongue. Make sure your son or daughter brushes and flosses thoroughly every day. Some mouthwashes may be beneficial for your child to alleviate bad breath caused by leftover bacteria in the mouth. Other ways of treating of halitosis can vary, based on the cause of the problem.

If you’re unsure about why your child has halitosis, contact our office and we can help you figure out where the issue originated. Remember, masking symptoms of bad breath with gum or mints will be only a temporary fix. Your child’s bad breath problems can be helped with a little investigation from Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen. Always feel free to call our Jacksonville, FL office if you are concerned about your child’s oral health.

Moving On Into May

May 7th, 2018

 

 

 

Summer is fast approaching and we’re gearing up for all the fun things coming our way this May! With Mother’s Day, National Teacher’s Day, and the return of some of our favorite summer activities happening this month, we wanted to take a few minutes to share some exciting things we have in store.

To start off, our patients deserve a big thank you for always being so wonderful and that’s why we can’t wait to continue growing this family! With the opening of our new office and having Dr. Nguyen on board with us, we now have improved the ability to add your friends and family as new patients with our practice. We have opened our appointment book for new patients to join our practice through a comprehensive new patient exam and we’re always available same-day to handle any urgent needs. As always, we would be so grateful to receive a referral from you all and we would be honored to have your loved ones join us!

In the spirit of National Teacher’s Day, we’d like to give a round of applause to all the teachers who have taught us important life lessons. Dr. Mullens credits Dr. Peter Dawson for helping him learn how to be an exceptional physician of the mouth. Dr. Dawson has dedicated much of his professional life to teaching other dentists technical skills and how to create an amazing practice environment for their patients. Teachers hold a special place in our hearts, especially for Dr. Mullens whose own father was an elementary school teacher and a school principal! Teachers help to shape our society and are often unsung heroes, so be sure to let the teachers in your life know how much they are appreciated.

When we’re at the office, we’d say there’s nothing better than winding down with a nice treat at the end of a long day. It’s our dirty little secret, but our team loves any and all sweets. Cake, cookies, doughnuts - you name it, we’re big fans! And, of course, in true dentist fashion, we make sure to brush and floss our teeth after every sweet indulgence.

We are so excited that summer is almost here! Whether it’s snorkeling, fishing, surfing, or water skiing, Dr. Mullens loves any chance to be on the water. He and his family love spending time together and look forward to their annual summer vacation. Both of his kids are active in their campus life at Wake Forest University, so this year the Mullens’ are bringing the vacation to the kids! Their mountain getaway in North Carolina sounds like the perfect summer getaway if you ask us. But, of course, for all of us and our families, any time together is a great time. Rest assured, Dr. Nguyen will be holding down the fort while Dr. Mullens is away on his family break. At some point, maybe we will let Dr. Nguyen have a day or two off!

Speaking of Mother’s Day, we wanted to say a special thank you to all of the amazing moms out there! We are grateful for everything you have done to make us who we are today.

Have a wonderful May and we hope to see you soon!

 

Dangers of Thumb Sucking

May 2nd, 2018

It’s common for children to suck their thumb at a young age. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team want you to understand the potential issues that can surface down the road if the habit isn’t broken early on.

It’s normal for infants to explore the function of their mouths by putting objects like their thumbs inside it. You shouldn’t be concerned if your baby regularly sucks his or her thumb. For infants who are still growing their baby teeth, thumb sucking can help with stimulating growth and development of their baby teeth.

Thumb sucking is not a problem among infants because they generally do it to sooth and comfort themselves. Problems can occur of kids continue the habit when their baby teeth begin to fall out, around six years of age.

If you have a young child whose adult teeth are starting to come in, that’s when thumb sucking can start to be a problem. Most children stop thumb sucking between the ages of two and three years. According to the American Dental Association, if thumb sucking continues as adult teeth come in, this can lead to problems involving improper alignment of teeth and growth of the jaw, gums, and roof of the mouth.

It may also affect your child’s speech after that, by causing a lisp or other speech impediments. As a parent, you may need to begin to regulate and intervene if thumb sucking starts to become a bigger problem for your child.

How to Stop Thumb Sucking

  • Provide comfort to your child if thumb sucking happens when he or she is anxious.
  • Limit thumb sucking initially to bedtime or naptime.
  • Employ positive reinforcement for good behavior.
  • Talk with your child about the potential problems that come from this habit.
  • Distract your son or daughter with activities such as fun games any time you notice it starting.
  • Involve your little one in choosing methods for stopping, like positive rewards.
  • Have Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen talk to your child to reinforce concerns about thumb sucking.

Don’t forget that thumb sucking is a common habit that many children indulge in, and it should not be a concern right away. If you’re worried about your child’s thumb-sucking habit, start to address the issue as soon as possible.

The above techniques can help to reduce the amount of time your child sucks a thumb. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team are here to help you if you have any questions or concerns about this habit.

Feel free to call our Jacksonville, FL office and we will be happy to help you and your child.

Tooth Discoloration: Common causes and what you can do to stop it

April 25th, 2018

Looking back at childhood photos, you may notice picture after picture of yourself with a mouthful of shiny white teeth. When you look in the mirror today, you wonder what happened to that beautiful smile. Many adults struggle with tooth discoloration and find it embarrassing to show off their teeth in a smile. Once you identify the cause of your tooth discoloration, there are treatment options at our office that can restore your teeth and your confidence.

What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

There are a host of factors that may cause your teeth to discolor. Some are directly under your control, and others may not be preventable. Here is a list of common reasons that teeth become discolored.

  • Genetics: Much of your dental health is determined by genetic factors beyond your control. Some people naturally have thinner enamel or discolored teeth.
  • Medications: Several medications lead to tooth discoloration as a side effect. If you received the common antibiotics doxycycline or tetracycline as a child, your teeth may have discolored as a consequence. Antihistamines, high blood pressure medications, and antipsychotic drugs can also discolor teeth. If you think a medication may be leading to tooth discoloration, talk to Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen. Never discontinue the use of a medication without consulting your doctor, however.
  • Medical Conditions: Genetic conditions such as amelogenesis or dentinogenesis cause improper development of the enamel, and can lead to yellowed, discolored teeth.
  • Poor Dental Hygiene: Failing to brush your teeth at least twice a day or regularly floss may lead to tooth decay and discoloration.
  • Foods and Tobacco: Consumption of certain foods, including coffee, tea, wine, soda, apples, or potatoes, can cause tooth discoloration. Tobacco use also causes teeth to turn yellow or brown.

Treatments for Tooth Discoloration

There are a variety of treatments available to individuals with discolored teeth. One of the easiest ways to reduce tooth discoloration is through prevention. Avoid drinking red wine, soda, or coffee and stop using tobacco products. If you drink beverages that tend to leave stains, brush your teeth immediately or swish with water to reduce staining.

After determining the cause of tooth discoloration, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen can suggest other treatment options. Over-the-counter whitening agents might help, but in-office whitening treatments provided at our Jacksonville, FL office would be more effective. When whitening agents do not help, bondings or veneers are among the alternative solutions for tooth discoloration.

If you are worried about your teeth becoming yellow or brown, think carefully about your diet and medication use. Talk to Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen to identify substances that may be causing the problem. After treatment for tooth discoloration, you will have a beautiful white smile you can be proud to show off.

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

April 18th, 2018

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team at our office hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

Pick the right electric toothbrush!

April 11th, 2018

The electronic toothbrush has undergone several technological advances since the 1960s. Everything from design and bristle motions to rotation, oscillation, and sonic vibration has led to dramatic changes in this necessary tool over time.

Rotation oscillation happens when the head of the toothbrush rotates from one direction to the other. The benefit of powered toothbrushes is that they can produce 50,000 strokes per minute, compared to 300 strokes with a manual toothbrush.

When you’re thinking about brush head size, smaller brush heads are best for hard-to-reach areas and small mouths. Brush heads should be replaced every three to six months as needed. A good way to save money is to designate a brush head for each family member which can be taken on and off a shared base motor.

Having a base motor or rechargeable toothbrush can deliver enough power on a full charge for a week of brushing, which makes it convenient for travel or when life gets busy. Some toothbrushes include audible signals that let you know when to switch the area of your mouth you’re brushing or when a full two minutes has gone by.

Do you have sensitive teeth? Studies have indicated that people tend to apply more pressure on their teeth when they use a manual toothbrush. This makes an electric toothbrush a preferable option if you’re having issues with sensitive teeth or gums.

There are even electric models with pressure sensors that will stop the brush from spinning when you press too hard against your teeth!

Everyone can benefit from having an electric toothbrush. A large handle size can be taken into consideration if a member of the household is young, or has a physical disability or arthritis. They’re even recommended for children in order to maintain good oral hygiene from a young age.

Biofilm is a term used for plaque or debris that builds up in your mouth. If not properly addressed, this can cause serious bacterial infections to your gums and teeth. If you want to remove biofilm in the most efficient way, an automatic toothbrush is the way to go.

When you're ready to make your decision, make sure to consult with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen at our Jacksonville, FL office to decide which electric toothbrush is right for you!

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 4th, 2018

Happy Oral Cancer Awareness Month! We know oral cancer can be kind of a scary topic, but it’s worth using this opportunity to learn about the disease and spread knowledge so everyone becomes more aware. The more we know, the better we can work to prevent it!

Oral cancer is exactly what it sounds like: cancer that occurs anywhere in the mouth. It could occur on the tongue, the lips, the gums, the tongue, inside the cheek, or in the roof or floor of the mouth. Every  year, more than 8,000 people die from oral cancer. It’s a truly deadly disease.

The reason oral cancer scores a higher death rate than other common cancers such as testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, thyroid cancer, cervical cancer, or even skin cancer, is because it often goes undetected until it's become too advanced and has spread to another part of the body.

So what causes this devastating disease? There is no clear answer, but some potential causes have been identified. By being aware of these, we can be alert and promote prevention of this illness:

  • Age: Most patients who develop oral cancer are above the age of 40. If you’re over 40, make sure your doctor checks for signs of oral cancer and that you stay on your dental hygiene regimen.
  • Tobacco: Excessive tobacco use, whether in the form of cigarette smoking or tobacco chewing, can be a substantial contributor and cause of oral cancer. So that’s another reason, among many, you should avoid tobacco.
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can put you at risk because alcohol converts into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which damages the body’s DNA and blocks cells from repairing the damage. When paired with tobacco, the dehydrating effects of alcohol make it even easier for tobacco to infiltrate mouth tissue.
  • Sun exposure: Your lips need SPF, too! Repeated sun exposure increases your risk of contracting cancer on your lips, especially the lower lip.
  • Diet: Not getting all the nutrients you need, from vegetables and fruits for instance, can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to the disease.

Obviously, many of these causes relate to lifestyle choices, which we have control over. It's all about balance, being aware, and making small tweaks to our habits if we need to.

If you’re concerned that you may be at risk for oral cancer, give us a call to talk about a screening. And if you’ve been putting off a visit to our Jacksonville, FL office, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits to the dentist can be the first line of defense against oral cancer!

Help! My gums hurt when I floss!

March 28th, 2018

By no stretch is it rare for your gums to hurt during and after flossing. Even some bleeding is to be expected. This is especially true if you have not flossed in a long time. However, if your gums do indeed hurt when you floss, and unbearably so, there are some things you can do.

Be Gentle

Perhaps the most obvious way to combat gum soreness and bleeding is to be gentle. One of the most common occurrences of these gum problems is over-aggressive flossing. In other words, if you are too rough on your gums while flossing, either because you are out of practice or because you are in a hurry, soreness and hurting is to be expected. Instead, try taking your time and be gentle. Also, if you are just starting out, be patient and consistent, your gums will become more conditioned over time.

Use an Alternative Method

If being consistent and gentle does not work, there are other alternative methods of flossing that you can try. You can also try a water floss machine, or what is sometimes called a water pick. The device essentially shoots water into the crevasses between your teeth, and in other areas of your mouth, in order to dislodge food and plaque. These oral instruments also come with different attachments that allow you to reach many of the hard to see and reach areas of your mouth. And lastly, you can always buy floss that is not as abrasive to your gums. There is floss that comes with soft and gentle coatings that will do less harm to your gums while they are adjusting to the good oral hygiene habit you are creating.

Flossing is one of the easiest parts of oral hygiene to overlook. When you first start out, it is common that you may want to stop because of the pain it can initially cause. However, if you try one, or all, of the above mentioned methods, you will give yourself the best chance of being success with your flossing, and it won't hurt as much.

For more flossing tips, schedule an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office and askDr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen or a member of our team!

My teeth don't line up any more. Why?

March 14th, 2018

If your teeth don't line up like they used to any more, you may be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, often called TMD. This is a term that can actually be applied to any condition that occurs because the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is inflamed.

The temporomandibular joint is essentially the hinge that holds your lower jaw to your skull, and when it is inflamed or damaged in any way, it can be extremely painful. You have two temporomandibular joint, one on each side of your jaw, and it is typical to experience TMD in both sides at the same time.

Shifting of the Teeth

The reason that your teeth may not line up as they once did is that the ball and socket joints are often out of alignment and, as mentioned above, often very inflamed as a result. In order to correct the problem, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen may prescribe dental orthotics such as a lower jaw splint.

Sometimes, the wisdom teeth can play a role in the shifting of the teeth as well. If shifting wisdom teeth is combined with TMD, it may be necessary to have your wisdom teeth removed. Dental splints may follow if your teeth don't shift back to their proper positions on their own.

TMD is certainly a difficult thing to deal with, so if you experience your teeth shifting, scheduling an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office is the smartest course. We want to help you get your smile back, so give us a call anytime.

Make Brushing Fun!

March 7th, 2018

It’s gratifying to know your child has good oral hygiene, especially starting from an early age. We know it can be difficult to get your son or daughter to brush those tiny teeth, let alone brush them well enough, every day. Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team are here to give you some tips on how to help your youngster learn excellent oral health habits.

Your child should brush his or her teeth at least twice a day in order to prevent cavities and decay. An grownup may have to assist with flossing or using mouthwash. Always make sure your little one doesn’t swallow toothpaste or mouthwash in the process.

Only buy alcohol-free mouthwash, especially if you have young children in your household. Oral healthcare should be made fun from the start, to create good habits!

Helpful Tips

  • Set a good example. Brush your teeth with your children and make it fun! Pick a two-minute song to play while brushing and dance along to it.
  • Make it a race to the bathroom to see who can get the toothbrush and floss out first.
  • Use a sticker sheet. For every night your children brush well, give them a sticker. After they’ve earned certain number of stickers, they win a reward. Let them pick it!
  • Let your child check your brushwork, or try letting your youngster brush your teeth!
  • Allow children to play with a toothbrush if they want to. They can brush their favorite stuffed animal’s or doll’s teeth before bed as well.
  • Let your child pick his or her own toothbrush or toothpaste from a range of options you provide. Kids might pick one with their favorite cartoon character(s) on it, for example.
  • Get a two-minute brushing timer your child can flip over when he or she starts to brush. Your son or daughter can watch the sand fall until it’s empty, which notifies the kid it’s time to stop brushing.
  • Buy special children’s mouthwash that is colored to stain the areas of the child’s mouth where he or she needs to re-brush for effectiveness.
  • Be gentle when your little one makes a mistake like forgetting to brush, and remind your son or daughter about the importance of good oral health in a fun, loving way.

There are plenty of ways to make brushing your child’s teeth more fun and effective. When Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and the parents work together, we can help establish good oral health habits in children that will last a lifetime.

Take the trouble to set a great example for your children, and they will follow in your footsteps. If you’re concerned about your child’s oral health, contact our Jacksonville, FL office and schedule an appointment with our team.

When to Replace Fillings

February 28th, 2018

A dental filling replaces and restores the health of a tooth that has been damaged. Often, the need for a filling results from a cavity due to a large amount of decay in a tooth.

Teeth may also require repairs after cracking from chewing on hard objects, trauma to the mouth, grinding or clenching of your teeth, uneven chewing pressure, or exposure to extreme hot and cold temperatures.

Over time, a filling may have to be replaced after normal wear and tear has occurred. There are signs and symptoms to watch out for if your tooth may need a replacement filling, or a new filling. our office performs various types of filling treatments, depending on the damage to the tooth.

Common signs and symptoms to watch out for if you have a cracked tooth can include sharp pain when you bite down, pain that comes and goes, discomfort when eating or drinking, or a constant feeling that something is stuck in your teeth. The crack may not be visible to the eye, which makes it hard to tell whether a tooth is actually cracked.

Pain may come and go quickly when you bite down because you’re expanding the crack with the combined pressure of your teeth. If you notice this happening, contact Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen right away so we can get X-rays of your mouth and quickly fix the problem.

If you’ve had a filling in your mouth in the past, you could be due for a replacement. The seal between the tooth and the filling may break down over time, after which bacteria can build up underneath the filling and cause more decay.

It’s vital to catch this early so a filing can fix the problem. If you wait too long, a crown or a root canal may be the only option. You may not notice that a long-time filing is cracked or worn down, because it can take a long time to feel any discomfort. This is one of the reasons we recommend a dental checkup every six months.

If you need a tooth filling or a replacement filling, different filling choices vary in price. Gold fillings and porcelain fillings are more expensive options that last longer -- typically around 20 years. Porcelain fillings match the color of the rest of your teeth, however, which makes them less visible.

Another option is amalgam, or silver fillings, that less expensive but may be more noticeable in visible areas of your mouth. Composite, or plastic fillings, are another affordable option that can be matched to the color of your teeth. Composites are more likely to wear out over time and not last as long: usually around three to ten years.

If you think a past filling might be due for replacement, schedule an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office. Make sure to stay on top of your routine dental appointments in order to prevent decay from breaking down problem teeth.

If we catch the problem early, we can save you both money and time. Fillings can be a great way to resolve any existing teeth issues, and prevent extensive dental care practices from becoming necessary in the future.

 

The Perks of Dairy

February 21st, 2018

We all remember hearing this: “Finish your milk, it’s good for your bones!” If you have kids of your own now, you may catch yourself repeating many of the things you were told growing up.

Though parents occasionally exaggerate to get their kids to do certain things (such as eat veggies or behave), they’re spot-on about milk. Consuming enough dairy every day is crucial for growing children, because this can set them up to have strong and healthy teeth for the rest of their lives.

To understand the effects of dairy on your child’s teeth, take a look at tooth structure. Think of it in terms of layers: the innermost layer is the living tissue, the second layer is dentine (a calcified tissue), and the final one is the enamel, aka the white part of the tooth. Keep in mind that 96 percent of your enamel is made up of minerals like calcium.

Now, milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, so when you consider the need to build strong enamel for the first line of defense, it’s easy to see the connection between dairy and good dental health. When your son or daughter consumes dairy products, the body sends the incoming calcium to growing bones, which includes teeth.

This makes children’s teeth and bones stronger all around. Growing youngsters who do not get enough dairy in their diet are at risk for improper tooth development, as well as other dental problems.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of eight should be receiving at least two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight require three full cups, which is the same amount recommended for male and female adults.

If you’re looking for easy ways to incorporate dairy into your children’s diet, try snacks like cottage cheese, a milk-based smoothie, yogurt, cheese sticks, non-fat milk, and fruit parfaits, to name a few. Once you get a feel for what they like most, furnishing the ideal amount of dairy to their diet should be no problem!

If you’re concerned about your child’s teeth or have questions about a healthy diet, don’t hesitate to contact our Jacksonville, FL office and ask a member of our team.

The Origins of Valentine's Day

February 14th, 2018

When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of cards, flowers, and chocolates. We think of girlfriends celebrating being single together and couples celebrating their relationship. We think of all things pink and red taking over every pharmacy and grocery store imaginable. But what Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team would like to think of is when and how this joyous, love-filled day began.

Several martyrs’ stories are associated with the origins of Valentine’s Day. One of the most widely known suggests that Valentine was a Roman priest who went against the law at a time when marriage had been banned for young men. He continued to perform marriage ceremonies for young lovers in secret and when he was discovered, he was sentenced to death.

Another tale claims that Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape from Roman prisons. Yet another says that Valentine himself sent the first valentine when he fell in love with a girl and sent her a letter and signed it, “From your Valentine.”

Other claims suggest that it all began when Geoffrey Chaucer, an Englishman often referred to as the father of English literature, wrote a poem that was the first to connect St. Valentine to romance. From there, it evolved into a day when lovers would express their feelings for each other. Cue the flowers, sweets, and cards!

Regardless of where the holiday came from, these stories all have one thing in common: They celebrate the love we are capable of as human beings. And though that’s largely in a romantic spirit these days, it doesn’t have to be. You could celebrate love for a sister, a friend, a parent, even a pet.

We hope all our patients know how much we love them! Wishing you all a very happy Valentine’s Day from the team at our office!

The Most Common Causes of Gum Disease

February 7th, 2018

Unless you're aware of the signs and symptoms of gum disease and how it's caused, it's possible that you may have unknowingly developed it. Often painless, gum disease -- or periodontal disease -- becomes progressively more serious when left untreated. As you learn more about the common causes of gum disease, you'll be better-equipped to maintain the best oral health possible.

Gingivitis & Periodontitis: Common Causes of Gum Disease

  • Bacteria & Plaque. Bacteria in the mouth creates a sticky film over the teeth. Good hygiene practices help remove the bacteria and the plaque they cause. When plaque is not removed, it develops into a rock-like substance called tartar. This can only be removed by a dental professional.
  • Smoking & Tobacco. If you're a smoker or use tobacco, you face a higher risk of developing gum disease. Additionally, tobacco use can lead to stained teeth, bad breath, and an increased risk of oral cancers.
  • Certain Medications. Some medications that are taken for other health conditions can increase a person's risk of developing gum disease. If you take steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, certain cancer therapy medications, or oral contraceptives, speak to Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen about how to maintain healthy gums.
  • Medical Conditions. Certain medical conditions can impact the health of your gums. For instance, diabetics face an increased risk of gum disease due to the inflammatory chemicals present in their bodies. Always talk to our team about other health conditions to ensure we take that into account when treating you.

Take a Proactive Stance

Good oral hygiene practices and regular visits to our Jacksonville, FL office can help you eliminate or reduce the risks of developing gum disease. A thorough cleaning with your toothbrush and dental floss should take about three to five minutes. Brush your teeth a minimum of twice per day and floss at least once each day. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be ready to prevent gum disease.

Does chronic stress impact periodontal health?

January 31st, 2018

Many studies over the past several years have focused on this question. Since we will all face stressful situations during our life, it is a good question to ask. This question also delves into the mind-body connection—the psychological having an effect on the physical and vice versa.

Studies were performed as far back as the 1940s and continue today. Many of them have shown that stress "downregulates" or hinders cellular immune response. The most common periodontal diseases related to this stress-induced downregulation are gingivitis and periodontitis.

It is believed that stress and depression contribute to a state of chronic inflammation within the body. Stress also raises levels of cortisol in your body, which has been linked in studies to higher levels of tooth loss and deeper pockets between the gums and teeth.

Perhaps the biological side of this equation makes sense, but an important factor is that people who are stressed and/or depressed tend to neglect oral hygiene and other health-promoting activities. The studies seem to support both the behavioral and biological effects as risk factors for periodontal disease.

Here are some things you can do to help prevent stress-related periodontal problems:

  • Daily relaxation –You may consider meditation or yoga. Both have been proven effective at easing stress.
  • Practice good oral hygiene – Don't let your oral hygiene fall by the wayside. Doing so will obviously have a detrimental effect on your oral health. You should also aim to quit smoking if you do smoke.
  • Get regular dental checkups – Getting regular checkups will help you to spot anything that's amiss before it gets out of hand. You can speak with your dentist if you have any pain or concerns and have them take a look.

Stress is something that affects all of us but it can be managed. Each one of us may manage it in a different way. Find what works for you and always make sure to keep up with your oral hygiene routine. For more information about stress-related periodontal issues, schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen at our Jacksonville, FL office.

Tooth-Colored Fillings

January 24th, 2018

Once upon a time, silver fillings ruled in dental offices everywhere. For a long time, they were the only option dentists used to close off the spaces on teeth where bacteria could easily enter.

Most patients did not regard a pearly white and silver smile as something to be super excited about. Luckily, we have a range of more aesthetically pleasing options today. The most common material used for fillings now is composite, also known as tooth-colored fillings.

Composite fillings are made to match the shade of your teeth, so they offer a seamless addition to your smile. They even let light travel through them the same way that natural enamel does. Composite fillings are great because they erase imperfections and can even reshape your teeth by minimizing excessive spacing. If you have a gap between your two front teeth, for example, a composite filling is an easy, non-invasive, and most important, cost-effective way to give you the instant fix you desire.

Overall, tooth-colored fillings make an easy choice all around. Easily placed, readily repaired, and well disguised. In a world where a perfect smile seems to have become standard for everybody, why not get composite fillings for yourself?

You can smile with the confidence of knowing that nobody will spot a shiny silver thing in your mouth. Visit our Jacksonville, FL office to get a consult or give us a call! We’re always happy to answer your questions.

Understanding Dental Insurance Terminology

January 17th, 2018

If you have a hard time understanding your dental insurance plan, particularly the treatments and services it covers, you’re not alone. That’s why Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our team have put together a cheat sheet to help you through them.

It’s common for patients to get lost in the morass of the terms and phrases that surface when you’re dealing with a dental insurance plan. Knowing the commonly used terms can help speed up the process and enable you to get the most out of your coverage.

Common Terms

Annual Maximum: The most your policy will pay per year for care at our office. It is often divided into cost per individual or per family.

Co-payment: Typically, a small amount the patient has to pay at the time of service before receiving care, and before the insurance pays for any portion of it.

Covered Services: A list of all the treatments, services, and procedures the insurance policy will cover fully under your contract.

Deductible: An amount you must pay out of pocket each year before the insurance company will contribute for any treatments or procedures. The amount can vary according to your plan.

Diagnostic Services: A category of treatments or procedures that most insurance plans will cover before the deductible, which may mean services that occur during preventive appointments with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen, including X-rays or general screenings.

Exclusions: Dental services not covered under a dental benefit program.

In-Network: An insurance company will usually cover a larger portion of the cost of the care if you see an in-network provider for treatment.

Out-of-Network: If you visit someone who is not a part of your provider’s network, the insurance company may pay for a portion of the care, but you will be responsible for a significantly larger share out of your pocket.

Lifetime Maximum: The most that an insurance plan will pay toward care for an individual or family over the entire life of the patient(s).

Limitations: A list of all the procedures the insurance policy does not cover. Coverage may limit the timing or frequency of a specific treatment or procedure, or exclude some treatments altogether.

Member/Insured/Covered Person/Beneficiary/Enrollee:  A person who is eligible to receive benefits under an insurance plan.

Premium: The regular fee charged by third-party insurers and used to fund the dental plan.

Provider: Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen or other oral-health specialist who provides treatment.

Waiting Period: A specified amount of time that the patient must be enrolled with an insurance plan before it will pay for certain treatments.

It’s essential to understand the various insurance options available to you. Knowing what your insurance covers can save you major costs in the future.

Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen and our dental staff hope this list of terms will help you understand your dental insurance plan better. Be sure to review your plan and ask any questions you may have about your policy the next time you visit our Jacksonville, FL office.

My gums are inflamed. What can I do?

January 10th, 2018

Inflamed gums are a fairly common dental issue, but unfortunately, many people don't take the problem seriously enough. If you ignore inflamed gums and continue your usual routine, you could be encouraging a much more severe inflammation problem, and the pain that goes along with that. Fortunately, it is quite easy to relieve inflamed gums if you use the tips below.

Use Soft Bristles

A soft-bristle toothbrush - the softest you can buy - is a must for anyone with inflamed gums. Anything that makes contact with your gums can cause you pain, so fine and soft bristles are always the best choice.

Use Sensitive Formula Toothpaste

The toothpaste marketed as “Sensitive Teeth Formula” contain special ingredients to help relieve sensitivity. When your gums are inflamed, even light brushing can cause some pain. Using a special toothpaste will help reduce that pain and make it easier to brush your teeth effectively. The effect becomes stronger as you use the toothpaste more, so use it for each brushing.

Visit Our Office

If your gums remain swollen for more than a few days or a week, set up an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen. There is a long list of conditions that could be causing your swollen gums, everything from gum disease to pregnancy, so you need to find out where your issue is coming from. Most of the time, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen can easily treat the swollen gum issue at our Jacksonville, FL office, or can give you an effective treatment to take home.

Toothaches and Abscesses

January 4th, 2018

With Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen, emergency dental care is only a phone call away. Dental problems are uncomfortable and should always be treated as soon as possible to prevent them from getting worse.

Whether it’s an abscess or a toothache that you believe might be something more, it’s vital to pay attention to your body and give it the attention it needs. Below, you’ll find some more information about abscesses and toothaches that may clarify any doubts about the differences, whether you may be suffering from one of them … and what to do if you are.

Abscesses

What’s an abscess? It’s a bacterial infection: an accumulation of pus that can form inside a tooth or the gums and cause pain and swelling. It generally develops as a result of poor oral hygiene.

Bacteria lives in plaque so if plaque isn’t removed on a regular basis, it can build up and encourage bacteria to spread, which could ultimately result in an abscess. Antibiotics aren’t always needed for treatment, you should get this situation checked out as soon as possible. If left untreated, oral infections can lead to bigger complications.

Toothaches

Toothaches can happen for a number of reasons. The simplest, most common one is a piece of food that is stuck in your gum, which can cause a bit of swelling and discomfort.

To get rid of it, you can rinse your mouth with hot water and salt, every morning and evening. This helps kill bacteria and bring down the swelling. You can also gently floss the area to remove whatever is stuck there. If you experience bleeding while you’re flossing, and hot water with salt proves ineffective, it may be time to schedule an appointment.

If you’re especially sensitive to cold and heat, you may often experience toothaches. If this is the case, we can recommend a pain reliever to reduce the discomfort, but it’s worthwhile to come in for a check-up anyway to make sure the problem doesn’t get worse.

The last (and most obvious) reason for a toothache is a cavity. Depending on how bad it is, we might fill it or place a crown. The tricky thing with cavities is that sometimes you may not know you have one at all, especially when they’re just starting out. The best way to prevent them from getting worse and creating toothaches is by keeping up with your regular dental cleanings.

At our office, we’re here to assist you through any and all your dental emergencies! We encourage you to make an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office if you notice any signs of discomfort, so we can provide the most efficient care for you.

Smile, the New Year is Almost Here!

December 27th, 2017

We’ve been celebrating the new year for a really, really long time. It goes way back, but it started formally in 1582, when Pope George XIII made January 1st the official holiday for ushering in the new year. The idea was to yell, cheer, and blow horns to scare away all the evil spirits of the previous year with the hope that the new one would be filled with happiness and opportunity.

While scaring away evil spirits isn’t what’s on our mind these days, we still ring in the New Year by cheering and hollering with friends and family. It’s a time to set new goals, refocus on old ones, and look forward to all the surprises the coming year will bring.

Whether you’re saying hello to the New Year snuggled up at home on your couch in the Jacksonville, FL area or by gathering your friends for a social celebration, here are some tips to help ensure you welcome this new chapter with a smile.

Tips for a great New Year’s Eve celebration from our office

  • Stay safe. This one’s vital, because nothing puts a damper on your party like an emergency trip to the hospital. Stay responsible and try to plan ahead, whether that means taking a taxi, staying with a friend, or recruiting a designated driver. Do what you have to do to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
  • Spend time with the people you love most. The way we see it, the whole point of the holiday season is to cherish your family and friends. Regardless of what you’re doing, make sure there’s something for everyone. It’s essential to do something the whole group will enjoy!
  • Smile! Whether you get all dressed to go out or have a quiet gathering with family and friends, make sure you accessorize with a smile. There’s always something to smile about!

We can all agree that change can be scary sometimes, but ringing in the New Year is an observance we all welcome with open arms. We hope you’ll enjoy this transitional holiday in a fun, healthy, and safe way. You have endless possibilities ahead of you!

From Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen, have a fantastic New Year!

What to do about Sensitive Teeth

December 20th, 2017

If you suffer from sensitive teeth, you already know the frustration of having a type of pain that is hard to deal with. Because tooth sensitivity is sometimes unpredictable, you can't necessarily take medication to ward off the pain like you could if you just felt a headache coming on.

However, there is still something you can do about sensitive teeth. Use the following tips to help put your sensitivity and pain problems with your teeth behind you!

Use the Right Toothbrush: Select a toothbrush made just for sensitive teeth, or the softest bristles possible. This helps you avoid putting any extra pressure on your teeth or gums.

Choose a Special Toothpaste: There are several good options for toothpastes made just for sensitive teeth today. Usually, toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth will be fluoridated and use a non-abrasive formula. The toothpaste will help with the pain usually associated with brushing and flossing if you use it regularly.

Avoid Trigger Foods: You may have noticed certain trigger foods that cause tooth sensitivity and pain for you. Avoid these foods whenever possible, and if you absolutely must eat them, try to consume them in very small quantities. Trigger foods may include:

  • Foods with high acid content for example citrus fruits
  • Very hot or very cold foods
  • Hard or crunchy foods

Visit Our Office

If your sensitive teeth problem is too serious to manage on your own, a visit to our Jacksonville, FL office may be in order. There are a couple of ways Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen can help:

  • Fluoride Treatments: We can put a special fluoride formula on the most sensitive areas to help make your enamel stronger and to help lower pain levels.
  • Sealing Exposed Roots:In some cases, your roots become exposed due to a receding gumline, which in turn causes teeth sensitivity and pain. We can apply a dental sealant that protects the exposed roots and reduces your pain dramatically.

What is nitrous oxide and is it safe?

December 13th, 2017

Our team at our office understands that the sights, sounds and sensations at a dental office can be unsettling for some patients. One effective technique that we use to comfort you is to offer the gas nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a common anesthetic used during many dental procedures.

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is an oxide of nitrogen which has a slight sweet odor and taste. During medical or dental procedures, the gas is mixed with oxygen then inhaled through a mask that covers your nose. Within minutes, you should feel calm and experience an overall sense relaxation. You will be able to breathe on your own, move your limbs, and be conscious enough to hear and respond to our dentist's questions. The effects of nitrous oxide disappear shortly after the mask is removed and the drug is quickly eliminated from your body.

Is nitrous oxide safe?

Recreational use of nitrous oxide for its euphoric effects can be dangerous, however, the drug is combined with oxygen at dental offices. This ensures oxygen reaches the brain and prevents dangerous side effects or hypoxia. Nitrous oxide inhalation is a safe and effective technique to reduce anxiety, produce analgesia, and enhance effective communication.

Nitrous oxide is non-addictive and non-allergic, however, it may cause nausea in up to ten percent of patients. The drug is not recommended for people with some medical conditions such as chronic pulmonary disease. We recognize that all patients are different and encourage you to talk with Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen about whether nitrous oxide would be a good option for you.

Our team wants to help all patients in Jacksonville, FL to overcome dental anxiety, so please, give us a call at our office.

Nitrous Oxide

December 6th, 2017

Nitrous oxide is a gaseous sedative that’s inhaled through a small mask placed over the nose. Often referred to as laughing gas — because of the euphoric effects it produces — nitrous is used in our Jacksonville, FL office for its anesthetic/analgesic properties.

It will make it so you don’t feel the pain of dental treatment or have an experience that some patients may find traumatic.

Nitrous oxide’s use in the dental field dates back to about the mid-1800s, but when it was introduced, practitioners didn't understand the need to add oxygen. These days all nitrous oxide is administered with at least 30% oxygen for safety (so it forms the compound N2O-O2).

If you need any form of dental treatment, Dr. Richard Mullens may find it necessary to administer nitrous oxide. Some of the effects you may experience while you’re sedated include:

  • Lightheadedness, tingling in the arms and legs, followed by a warm or comforting sensation
  • A euphoric feeling or feeling like you are floating
  • Inability to keep your eyes open, so it seems as if you’re asleep

If at any time you feel uncomfortable, irritated, or sick, let Dr. Richard Mullens know, so the percentage of nitrous oxide being used can be adjusted. The effects dissipate quickly once you return to breathing regular air.

It’s best to be informed about all aspects of your dental treatment before you arrive. There are alternatives to nitrous oxide, so if you’re at all concerned, please don’t hesitate to ask questions about other options for sedation.

Analgesic (numbing) injections can often be used locally at the surgical site. We’ll find what works best for your particular case.

What are dental sealants and how do they work?

November 29th, 2017

A dental sealant is a liquid that is applied to the teeth. The sealant hardens and provides a protective coating that is designed to reduce cavities and create a smoother tooth surface. Dental sealants are clear or white; they do not take away from the appearance of teeth. You can think about this treatment as being similar to varnish that protects a wood floor.

Sealants are not the same as fluoride treatments. The application is similar, but sealants are a semi-permanent protective coating. Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff recommend that sealant applications for children begin soon after molars erupt, first molars around the age of six, and second molars around the age of 12.

Simple Application

Having sealants applied is not uncomfortable at all. First, your child's teeth will be cleaned and dried. A gel is applied, which helps the sealant adhere to the tooth, and then is rinsed away. Your child's teeth are dried again and the sealant is applied. A few seconds of exposure to a light source may be used to cure the sealant and make it semi-permanent. Sealants should last for a long time, normally between five and ten years.

Sealant Benefits

The coating on the surface of your child's teeth reduces the amount of acid contact. Normal acids in foods that are consumed can eat away at the surface of teeth. Bacteria also react to plaque formation and create more acid in the mouth. These small pits or weakened areas are prone to caries or cavity formation. Preventing cavities is a much better choice than drilling and filling damaged teeth.

A sealant also helps to smooth the chewing surfaces of your childn't teeth. The smoother surface is not as likely to retain small particles of food and bacteria. Your child's mouth stays cleaner and food is not left behind to form acids. The protective application can also be used on other teeth that have a rough surface, to protect the grooves or pits from decay.

After the sealant is applied, your child still needs to take proper care of his or her teeth. Regular brushing and flossing is required. Dr. Richard Mullens may recommend fluoride treatments to strengthen and protect your child's teeth further.

If you have any concerns about sealants, please discuss them with during your child's next appointment at our office. We want your little one's teeth to stay healthy for life.

Are dental X-rays safe?

November 22nd, 2017

YES! X-rays have been used in dentistry for a long time, and the amount of radiation has significantly decreased with advances in technology. While there is risk in every health diagnostic procedure at our office, the benefits must outweigh the risks. Dental X-rays do indeed fall into this category.

X-rays are exposed to a type of film to produce an image. The amount of X-rays required to produce this image differs with film speeds. Speed E or F is highly recommended, and digital X-rays require up to 50% less than speed E or F film. The digital X-ray software can adjust the exposure to produce a quality image. Digital X-rays are becoming a new standard and are most common.

Lead aprons have been used to reduce the amount of scatter radiation. All X-ray units have a cone to focus the X-ray beam so the exposure is highly localized. Lead aprons continue to be worn as a precaution for pregnant women, and a thyroid collar should also be worn. In most cases, this is sewn into the lead apron.

We get radiation exposure from environmental factors as well as healthcare diagnostic and treatment tools. To place this in perspective, in one year a person is expected to have 360mRem per year from the sun, air etc. By comparison, a single set of bitewing X-rays is 0.3mRem. Radiation can accumulate in our body over a lifetime, and additional exposure should be avoided whenever possible.

Paying It Forward

November 14th, 2017

Thanksgiving is near and this year we are feeling extra thankful for all of our amazing patients, office staff, and family! We’re also looking forward to having a new dental home for our patients soon.

For us, Thanksgiving isn’t just about being grateful, it’s also about giving back to the community and paying it forward! Dr. Mullens donates to many different charities every year and at our annual Mission of Mercy event, we provide free dental care to patients in need. We highly encourage our friends and patients to serve in their local community outreach programs because we really do believe that together we can make a difference.

Also, our new office is almost done, and we will soon be introducing two new wonderful members of the team.

Should you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to give our office a call. We hope everyone is enjoying the season with family and friends!

Why is replacing missing teeth important?

November 8th, 2017

When we talk about teeth, every single one of yours counts. Whether you’ve lost a tooth due to injury or poor oral hygiene, it’s worth seeing Dr. Richard Mullens to evaluate all your replacement options. If you don’t, you could suffer negative effects to your teeth, gums, jawbones, appearance, and self-esteem.

Depending on how many teeth are missing and where they are located, Dr. Richard Mullens may suggest an implant, fixed bridge, or a removable bridge.

Addressing missing teeth as soon as possible is in your best interests. If you don't, the consequences might include:

  • Shifting teeth: When you lose a tooth, the space it creates allows the neighboring teeth to drift and move out of alignment. A once-straight smile and correct bite can quickly turn into crooked teeth and a misaligned bite.
  • Tooth decay and/or gum disease: After teeth have shifted, it can be harder to reach all areas around them to brush and floss properly. The buildup of bacteria and plaque can result in periodontal disease and the loss of your remaining teeth due to decay.
  • Effect on jaws: Missing teeth alter your bite and how your teeth and jaws contact one another. This puts added strain on your jaw joint (TMJ) and can contribute to the development of TMJ disorder.
  • Change in face and appearance: When you lose a tooth, your gums and your jawbone are no longer stimulated in that area. A dental implant replaces the root of a tooth or several teeth, and provides stimulation to prevent bone loss. If the root isn’t replaced, this can lead to deterioration of the jawbone and alteration of the shape and appearance of your face. Your face, especially the cheeks, can look older and more sunken.

Replacing missing teeth is an essential step for your physical and emotional health. If they are replaced in a timely manner at our Jacksonville, FL office, you’ll continue to have the same wonderful smile you’ve always had.

Keep It Cheesy for a Long-Lasting Smile

November 1st, 2017

You’ve heard people tell you to say “cheese” when you’re having your picture taken, probably more times than you can count. There is another reason you should be saying “cheese” … or “YES” to eating cheese.

Although Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff routinely encourage our patients to brush their teeth after eating, the one time you don’t want to do that, at least not immediately, is after eating cheese.

Study Finds Important Benefit From Eating Cheese

CBS News reported on the results of a study that was published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, a publication of the Academy of General Dentistry. The study showed that cheese increases dental plaque pH, but in this case, the plaque increase isn’t a bad thing. When you eat cheese, you increase the pH of the plaque on your teeth, and create a protective coating that may lower your risk of getting dental caries -- more commonly known as cavities.

An analysis of the story from the General Dentistry journal, including the details of the study and its participants, was published in Science Daily. The study looked at 68 children between the ages of 12 and 15. A similar study was conducted by British researchers who reported their findings in the British Dental Journal in 1999.

How the Study Worked

For the 2013 study, researchers divided kids into three groups. Participants in group one ate cheddar cheese. Participants in group two drank milk, while participants in group three ate sugar-free yogurt. All participants were told to eat or drink their assigned foods for three minutes, after which they swished water in their mouths.

Researchers tested every participant’s mouth at ten, 20, and 30-minute intervals. They found no changes in the mouths of participants in the milk drinking and sugar-free yogurt eating groups, but every time they tested the pH levels in the mouths of the ones who had eaten cheese, researchers saw the levels quickly increased.

They concluded that cheese has anti-cavity properties. That isn’t the only benefit, however. Another study, in which related findings were reported, appeared in the Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice in the summer of 2000. In that study, researchers found that cheese may give teeth a protective coating that helps lessen enamel erosion caused by acidic foods, particularly from sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

So don’t just say cheese for pictures. If you want to have a happy, healthy and long-lasting smile, go for cheese. It’s good for your bones, too!

Ten Fun Things to Do with Your Old Toothbrush

October 25th, 2017

Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff recommend that you replace your worn-out, germy toothbrush with a new one every three months. But most people either forget or resist getting rid of something that is still “working.”

Maybe if they had a few ideas for putting that old toothbrush to good use, more people would take our advice? To encourage good oral practices, we offer these ten fun things you can do with your used toothbrush:

1. Let your five-year-old budding Da Vinci create a masterpiece with some paint and your old toothbrush.

2. Scrub oily areas on your face with your toothbrush. The bristles are perfect for removing embedded dirt and oil that clogs pores.

3. Pamper your hamster by brushing his fur with an old toothbrush.

4. Dab a bit of Vaseline on the bristles and comb your eyelashes: instant glamour! Got dry, flaky lips? Slough away by using a toothbrush on your lips.

5. Remove the bristles: instant small plant stakes!

6. Old toothbrushes are great for spot-cleaning just about anything.

7. When nobody is around to scratch an unreachable itch on your back, turn that old toothbrush into your personal backscratcher.

8. Is your dog’s breath so bad that all your houseplants have died? Try brushing his teeth with your old toothbrush so that his kisses (and breath) are more tolerable.

9. Give your fish the cleanest tank in the neighborhood by scrubbing it with your old toothbrush.

10. Did you notice a few gray hairs sprouting from your hairline this morning? Old toothbrushes were made for touch-up dye jobs; works for dyeing your eyebrows, too!

Are you at risk for oral cancer?

October 11th, 2017

Nearly 40,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer annually in the United States, with more than 8,000 dying every year from the disease. Oral cancer has a higher death rate than many other common cancers, including cervical cancer, testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and thyroid or skin cancers. The high death rate results from the fact that most oral cancers go undiagnosed until the disease is well advanced and has spread to another part of the body, most often, the lymph nodes in the neck.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team want you to know that cancers of the mouth and throat, which account for about three percent of all cancers in the United States, are largely preventable. However, we want you to know about certain risk factors that affect the likelihood of developing the disease.

  • Use of tobacco products including smoking cigarettes, cigars or a pipe, or chewing tobacco all elevate risk for developing oral cancer. Tobacco use especially, is a serious risk factor because it contains substances called carcinogens, which harm cells in your mouth.
  • Consumption of alcohol in excess can also increase your risk. If you drink alcohol regularly, you have an elevated risk of getting oral cancer. Alcohol abuse (more than 21 drinks in one week) is the second largest risk factor for the development of oral cancer, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
  • Excessive sun exposure. People who spend lots of time outdoors and do not use proper amounts of sunscreen or lip balm have a greater risk for developing lip cancer. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight may also cause melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.

If you notice unusual lumps, bumps, or red or white patches in your mouth that don’t go away, sores that won’t seem to heal, persistent soreness, or pain or difficulty swallowing please consult Dr. Richard Mullens and our team immediately.

Other factors that may influence your risk for developing oral cancer include:

  • Age: Oral cancer is typically a disease that affects older people, usually because of their longer exposure to other risk factors. Most patients diagnosed with oral cancer are over the age of 40.
  • Gender: Oral cancer strikes men twice as often as it does women.
  • A history with viral infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables

During your next visit, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen will examine your mouth for signs of oral cancer. If you have been putting off a visit to our Jacksonville, FL office for your regular checkup, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits can be the first line of defense against oral cancer because we can identify early warning signs of the disease. Give us a call today!

Dental Infections

October 4th, 2017

Drs. Richard Mullens and James Nguyen will tell you that dental infections can be very serious; sometimes, they develop into a life-threatening situation. Cavities are caused by acid-generating microorganisms that deposit themselves on teeth surfaces. Over time, acid erodes tooth enamel, compromising tooth strength. The major culprit or cause of cavities is sweets, but even diet soda plays a substantial role in tooth erosion, largely because the phosphoric acid it contains alters the oral pH. Cavities can pave the way for other, more serious infections to develop.

Types of infections

Pulpitis

Pulpitis is an inflammation of the tooth pulp. It typically occurs when cavities get deep enough to allow infection to reach the pulp. When this happens, bacteria travel through the pit or fissure that the cavity created. It can also develop from a fractured tooth. The symptoms may include moderate pain that comes and goes. Pain may intensify when cold liquids touch the pulp.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a consequence of chronic gingivitis, which occurs when the supportive bone structure of the tooth erodes, causing the periodontal tooth ligament to detach from the tooth. Kids between the ages of 12 and 17 and adults over age 30 are most likely to develop this disease. In severe cases of periodontitis, a periodontal abscess may form. Symptoms of the infection typically include redness, sensitivity to touch, and swelling.

Pericoronitis

Pericoronitis is an infection that occurs when food particles and other microorganisms get trapped under gum flaps. It typically happens when impacted wisdom teeth erupt. Pain at the site of the infection is a common symptom. You should try to prevent food particles from lodging in the gingivitis flaps.

Dental abscesses

A dental abscess is one of the most serious dental infections anyone can get. It begins at the base of the tooth, but without treatment can spread rapidly. When the abscess is more severe, the bacteria spread, often very rapidly, and cause severe facial swelling, pain, and discomfort.

The best way to minimize the risk of developing a dental infection is by practicing good oral hygiene, making sure that food or other particles aren’t trapped between the teeth for too long, flossing, using oral rinses that bear the ADA seal of approval, and seeing the dentist regularly. If or when there are any symptoms of infection, even if the only symptom is pain, be sure to visit the dentist. Early intervention may prevent the infection from escalating into something far more severe, painful, and costly to treat.

To learn more about dental infections, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens or Dr. James Nguyen, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Adults Can Get Cavities Too

September 27th, 2017

Sure, you brush your teeth and floss regularly, so you might think you’re off the hook when it comes to the dental chair. However, it’s just as important for adults to get regular dental exams as it is for kids. Cavities are common among adults, with 92% of people aged 18 to 64 having had cavities in their permanent teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

How cavities form

Our mouths are teeming with hundreds of types of bacteria. Some are helpful and maintain good health, while others are harmful. Certain types of bacteria process the sugars in food and release acid in return. Although minor decay can be naturally reversed by your body, Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen will tell you that eventually the acid wears away the enamel and creates small holes in the surface of teeth.

Cavity prevention for adults

Some people are naturally more prone to cavities than others. However, making a few lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce your likelihood of developing cavities.

  • Food choices. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables increases saliva production, and reduces cavity risk. It is also important to avoid foods that get stuck in the ridges of your teeth. Candy, cookies, and chips should be eaten sparingly.
  • Beverages. Most people know that drinking soda contributes to tooth decay. However, fruit juices and energy drinks also contain large amounts of sugar. Whenever possible, replace these sugary beverages with tea or water, which rinses your mouth and prevents decay.
  • Fluoridated water. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring chemical that facilitates enamel growth. Most municipal water supplies are fortified with fluoride, so drinking tap water is a great way to keep teeth healthy. People with well water may use fluoridated toothpaste or other supplemental forms of fluoride to decrease cavity risk.
  • Brush teeth and floss frequently. Gently brushing teeth several times a day removes the harmful bacteria that cause cavities to develop. If possible, brush your teeth after each meal or when drinking sugary beverages. Flossing regularly removes small particles that get trapped between teeth, which further decreases tooth decay.

One of the most important steps in cavity prevention is visiting your dentist at least twice a year. Consistent dental exams ensure that cavities are caught early, before they cause major damage to your teeth.

For more information about avoiding cavities, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens or Dr. James Nguyen, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Does the placement of implants hurt?

September 20th, 2017

If you're scheduled to get a dental implant, it's only natural to have questions about it. The pain involved is usually on the mind of most patients. Of course, some discomfort is possible, as with any major dental procedure. Having a well-defined plan ahead of time, which is carried out by either Dr. Richard Mullens or Dr. James Nguyen, reduces the risk of complications or side effects post-surgery.

During the procedure you won't feel a thing, since it is performed under general or local anesthesia that totally numbs your mouth. It's more likely that you will feel some pain or discomfort after the anesthesia has worn off.

There are usually three things that will affect the length and intensity of any discomfort:

  • The complexity of your surgery (for example if you need a bone graft or sinus lift beforehand)
  • How well-trained the dental team which works on your case is (it may be multiple people, including a periodontist, oral surgeon, and/or general dentist)
  • How quickly your body is able to heal itself post-surgery

The pain experienced from an untreated case will usually far outweigh that experienced from a dental implant. Good oral hygiene after your surgery is important to avoid infection. Salt water rinses are generally recommended 24 hours after your surgery. Brush your teeth gently around the implant.

It's also a good idea not to eat any food that is too hot, cold, or hard. Soft or pureed foods will help you to avoid chewing for the first few days after surgery and will help your mouth to heal faster. You'll typically be prescribed pain medication, but some patients find that ibuprofen or acetaminophen work well enough. Just remember, the most severe discomfort is usually experienced within the six hours after your anesthesia wears off.

Getting a dental implant is a big decision, and we want to make sure you get through it easily. Our Jacksonville, FL team is here to help if you have any questions about the procedure or post-surgery care.

Root Canal FAQs

September 13th, 2017

Most people hear the word root canal and panic. With today’s state of the art equipment and improved local anesthetic devices, and some knowledge, a root canal does not have to cause panic. Root canals are a common dental procedure, done quite often at our Jacksonville, FL office.

Why do I need a root canal?

There are several reasons why Dr. Richard Mullens may suggest a root canal including:

  • An infection in your tooth that has reached the nerves
  • A deep cavity that cannot be filled because the pulp and nerves are also effected
  • Injury to the tooth
  • A deep cracked tooth
  • Broken tooth
  • Repeated fillings of the effective tooth

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure that is used to prevent the loss of a tooth and relieve pain. Inside your teeth is pulp which consists of soft tissue blood, connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. When the pulp becomes infected, swollen or diseased a root canal is necessary to save your tooth. During a root canal, Dr. Richard Mullens or Dr. James Nguyen will remove the infected pulp. The tooth’s root canals and pulp chamber of your tooth will be cleaned, so all the diseased pulp is removed and then your tooth will be sealed.

What to Expect During a Root Canal

Your root canal will start out just like any other dental procedure. We will go over any questions you may have, and then numb the area surrounding the tooth. After the area is numb the root canal will begin.

The amount of time it takes to do your root canal varies depending on number of roots that need to be cleaned. Most teeth have one root canal, while others have between two and four. For a single canal, the procedure usually lasts less than an hour. The more canals your tooth has the longer amount of time it will take and in some cases, you will require more than one visit.

How much pain will I have after a root canal?

Once the local anesthesia wears off, your pain can be controlled by over the counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, or Acetaminophen. In some cases, Dr. Richard Mullens or Dr. James Nguyen may prescribe a prescription dose of pain medication. Within two days you should be feeling much better and able to return to your regular lifestyle.

What was your favorite part of summer?

September 6th, 2017

It's the end of summer, and fall is just around the corner. Soon the temperatures will cool down, the leaves will start to change, and we are sure that you’ll soon be thinking about Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving plans in no time. But wait! First, we want to know about your favorite parts of the summer! Did you go on a wonderful family trip? Did you pick up a new hobby? Did you try to spend as much time outside and in the sun as possible?

Share your favorite memories, stories, or photos with us by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Implants: Why it's important to replace missing teeth

August 30th, 2017

The average adult has 32 teeth, a combination of molars, canines, and incisors. By middle age, however, most adults are missing at least one tooth due to an injury, decay, or gum disease. Though many people choose to forgo tooth replacement, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office will tell you that every tooth is important. Each plays a vital role in the structure of the mouth and in relationship to the remaining teeth. Leaving the space where a tooth once stood can have serious consequences. There are many reasons why severely decayed or missing teeth should be replaced as quickly as possible.

  • Speech: A missing tooth can negatively affect the way you speak, depending on its location.
  • Bite changes: The loss of one or more teeth can cause the redistribution of bite pressure onto other teeth. Over time, this can cause the teeth to shift and move into the space the tooth once held.
  • Gum disease: Shifting teeth can make it easier for plaque to accumulate in hard-to-reach places. This can increase the risk of gum disease, which can lead to additional tooth loss.
  • Bone loss: The teeth are place-holders in the jaw. When one falls out and is not replaced, the bone that once surrounded it begins to deteriorate and wear down.
  • Aesthetics: A missing tooth leaves a visible gap between the teeth and can be a source of embarrassment and insecurity.

Advancements in modern dentistry have made it easy to replace missing teeth using natural-looking and functioning prosthetics. Dental implants are permanent solutions for replacing missing teeth with the use of special rods that are anchored in the jaw bone. These implants serve as artificial tooth roots that fuse with the jaw over time. When cared for properly, most dental implants can be fitted to last a lifetime.

To learn more about dental implants, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens or Dr. James Nguyen, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Sleep Apnea and Snoring

August 23rd, 2017

Snoring may not be something you take seriously. You might even laugh or joke about it. But the fact is, anytime you or your partner snore to the point of waking, it could be a sign of serious health problems.

Sleep Apnea and Its Effects

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is potentially dangerous, and the most common symptom is loud snoring. Breathing repeatedly starts and stops throughout the night, and you wake up feeling tired. Other serious effects from sleep apnea could be potentially dangerous to your health if left unaddressed.

Besides losing a good night's sleep, you may experience difficulty concentrating. Depression, risk of heart attack, irritability, high blood pressure, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, and chances of stroke all increase when sleep apnea is not treated.

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax to the point of inhibiting natural breathing. The muscles used to support the soft palate relax and the airway closes, causing breathing to stop for ten to 20 seconds. This lowers the oxygen level in the brain. As the brain senses the inhibited oxygen levels it rouses the sleeper awake so the airway can reopen. Normally, the reawakening is so brief the person won't remember it.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, visit our Jacksonville, FL office and let Dr. Richard Mullens and Dr. James Nguyen determine what treatment is needed. Without it, you could risk losing more than a restful night's sleep.

Prevention and Treatment

Anyone can develop sleep apnea, but it is more common among middle-aged adults who are overweight. Dr. Richard Mullens can help you determine the cause and suggest positive treatment.

A common treatment for apnea is the placement of oral devices that are designed to help keep the airway open. By bringing the jaw forward, the device opens the airway and thereby discourages snoring. We are experienced in sleep apnea appliances, and Dr. Richard Mullens can prescribe a fitted device and monitor its success with follow-up therapy.

A continuous positive airway pressure mask, known as a CPAP, is among the other treatment options. A mask is fitted over the mouth and forces oxygen through the throat while you sleep. The pressure holds the soft tissue and throat muscles open.

Our professionals at our office can advise you of other ways to prevent sleep apnea, including weight loss, avoiding alcohol, or alternative sleeping positions. We can help you sleep return to easy sleep, knowing you are safer and healthier during your resting hours.

Understanding Cavities

August 16th, 2017

Getting a cavity seems like delayed punishment for eating that special dessert every weekend or for the few days you forgot to floss. When you are doing everything right with minimal exception and a cavity is diagnosed, it is discouraging. Knowing how cavities form and what causes them is valuable in knowing how to prevent them. In this blog post, Drs. Richard Mullens and James Nguyen will help you understand cavities!

A cavity is not a one-time event. It is actually a symptom of a disease called caries. Tooth decay is a result of an active infection and condition in the mouth. There are ingredients to this infection, which include bacteria, acid, your tooth, and a food source. The main bacterial culprit is S. Mutans. Bacteria live in a housing structure called biofilm. This offers them protection, food, and an ideal replicating environment.

Biofilm can be healthy if there is a balance of good bacteria. When you have caries, the numbers of “bad” bacteria increase and produce an environment where they thrive and therefore cause tooth decay. A main indicator of this is a pH measurement of your saliva.

Several factors can influence the biofilm pH. Foods and beverages all have different pH levels. The lower the number, the higher the acidity. Since acid promotes tooth decay, a beverage like soda will promote a cavity. Water, being neutral, is a good choice to promote healthy oral pH. Healthy eating can still cause cavities. Here is an example of a highly acidic, yet traditionally healthy meal:

Toast with store-bought strawberry jam, and a cup of cottage cheese topped with fresh cranberries.

Instead, here is a better choice, which involves mixing acidic healthy foods with alkaline (non-acidic) foods to reduce the overall pH:

Toast with almond butter, and Greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries.

The first example will result in a very low pH in the mouth and even in the rest of the body. The second meal mixes highly acidic blueberries with an alkaline Greek yogurt. Dairy products from cows are highly acidic. Toast is acidic because of the yeast and almonds are alkaline.

A natural buffer is saliva. Whenever mouth breathing or medications compromise the saliva flow, the pH is going to drop and caries can go rampant. Getting a cavity is not just about the sweets or forgotten flossing sessions. It is about the pH levels and bacterial management.

For more helpful tips about how to avoid cavities, contact our Jacksonville, FL office.

Office Updates

August 15th, 2017

Our office has been very busy. As many of you know, we recently announced that Dr. James Nguyen has joined our team—and we are absolutely thrilled that he is here! We are also in the process of expanding our office space. We are building this office for you, our patients, in order to better serve you with appointment availability, on time scheduling, and a state of the art, modern, safe facility that we ALL can be proud of.

Our new space will be in the same building (The River Point Building), just down the hallway from where we are now. We will be providing some exciting updates as the project continues, so be sure to check our blog and Facebook frequently.

2017 has already been a very exciting for all of us here can’t wait for you all to see the finished result!

What is gingivitis, and how can I treat it?

August 9th, 2017

Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease that results when bacteria in your mouth cause inflammation in your gums. This is a common condition, and you can treat it effectively if you are aggressive. Otherwise, it could develop into more advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, and you could lose one or more teeth.

Watch for symptoms of gingivitis so you can ask Drs. Richard Mullens and James Nguyen for help as soon as you need it. Strategies for treating gingivitis include thoroughly cleaning your teeth and assessing the scope of your gingivitis and how serious the problem is.

Gingivitis: Early Gum Disease

Your mouth contains many bacteria that form plaque, which is a sticky substance. You can get rid of plaque by brushing well, but if you don’t, it can build up on your teeth and form tartar. Bacteria can make your gums inflamed and cause pain and bleeding, or gingivitis. Other symptoms include loose teeth, bad breath, receding gums, and sensitive teeth. You’re at higher risk for gingivitis if you’re a smoker, if you have a weakened immune system, or if you have diabetes.

Assessment and Diagnosis

If you think you recognize the symptoms of gingivitis, contact our Jacksonville, FL office to make an appointment. We will ask you about your risk factors for gingivitis and examine your teeth and mouth for signs of red and swollen gums. We may also measure the pockets around your teeth. If they are larger than usual, your gingivitis may be more advanced. Finally, will take some X-rays to get a picture of the bone structure of your jaw.

Deep Cleaning

You can’t get rid of the tartar on your teeth just by brushing at home. Instead, you need a deep cleaning consisting of scaling and root planing. Scaling involves scraping the plaque off of your teeth, both below and above the line of your gum. In root planing, the rough surfaces of your teeth where tartar is more likely to build up are smoothed. A laser may be used to make the procedure more effective, more accurate, and more comfortable.

When was your last dental checkup?

July 26th, 2017

While Dr. Mullens & Nguyen, and our team tell you daily oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing, are essential to optimal oral health, regular dental checkups at our office ensure your teeth are treated to a deeper level of cleaning.

We recommend for most of our patients to have a cleaning at our Jacksonville, FL office at least every six months. In addition to a thorough cleaning and polishing of your teeth, visits with Drs. Richard Mullens and James Nguyen help us detect and prevent the onset of tooth decay and gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. During your visit, we will check the health of your mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks, and tongue for signs of any decay or disease. We will also check old fillings and restorations as these can wear away over time due to chewing, clenching, or grinding.

If you are predisposed to any oral diseases, Dr. Richard Mullens or Dr. James Nguyen may recommend checking in with us more often than every six months. We want your teeth to get the professional attention they deserve! If you are overdue for your next cleaning, give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office to schedule a checkup! See you soon!

Is gingivitis preventable?

July 19th, 2017

The earliest sign of gum disease is called gingivitis (sometimes called periodontal disease), and is an inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to gum tissue loss, loss of bone that supports the teeth, and eventually tooth loss. The good news is that gingivitis is easily treatable at our office. Better yet, gingivitis is nearly 100 percent preventable.

Gingivitis is usually caused when plaque and bacteria accumulate on the gums, generally due to poor oral hygiene. A patient with gingivitis will have red and puffy gums that will likely bleed when he or she brushes or flosses.

It is almost entirely within our patients’ power to prevent gingivitis by brushing and flossing on a daily basis. In addition to good oral health habits, regular visits to see Dr. Richard Mullens will also help with early detection. We can often detect minor inflammation and other signs of gingivitis before it causes any discomfort or issues.

If left untreated, gingivitis will eventually progress to periodontitis, a breakdown of the tissue and bone that support the teeth. Smokers, women who are pregnant or menopausal, people with heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy or HIV infection, and people who suffer from poor nutrition are more likely to have gum disease.

To learn more about gingivitis, or if you suspect you have gingivitis, we encourage you to give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office today!

Is your child a mouth breather?

July 12th, 2017

Have you ever watched to see if your child is breathing through his or her mouth? Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose may lead to trouble for youngsters. Kids who typically breathe through their mouth—most often children who suffer from allergies—experience problems getting enough oxygen into their blood, a condition that affects their weight, size, sleep, and even their performance in the classroom and daily life.

Mouth breathing as a child can also lead to sleep apnea, behavior and learning problems, delayed speech, dental and facial abnormalities, and even breathing problems as your child grows. There are a multitude of reasons for an individual to mouth breathe, such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids, and deviated nasal septum, but the cause is usually allergies.

As bad as the condition sounds, we want you to know mouth breathing is a treatable condition. Doing so, though, requires early diagnosis and treatment. Since our team at our office sees our patients every six months, we may be in a position to identify the symptoms of mouth breathing.

If you suspect your child is a chronic mouth breather, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens.

Welcome Dr. Nguyen!

July 10th, 2017

Dear Revered Patient Family,

For more than 26 years, our practice has attempted to serve two simple missions: provide the highest level of dental care we can achieve and offer exceptional personal service to our patients. Many of you have trusted your oral health to us literally for decades; your loyalty and generous referrals have allowed our practice to expand in both its size and in the scope of the services that we offer.  Please accept our sincere thank you for the honor and privilege of allowing us to serve you.

In reaffirming our mission of exceptional care and service, I have spent the past two years searching for the perfect doctor to join our team in order to help me meet the growing demand of our patient family.  We all are very proud and excited to announce that Dr. James H. Nguyen (pronounced “Wynn”) will join our dental team later this month.

I performed an exhaustive search in order to hand pick Dr. Nguyen from numerous candidates. From the moment of our first meeting, it was evident to me that Dr. Nguyen and I shared a mutual passion for both the quality and scope of our work, as well as for the manner in which we provide it.  I consulted with faculty from The University of Florida College of Dentistry, and I found out that Dr. Nguyen was a highly decorated student, recognized not only for his technical abilities, but also for his genuine concern for his patients’ well-being.  Just last week, Dr. Nguyen received his certificate from a two year residency in Advanced General Dentistry, which I feel makes him uniquely qualified to join me in meeting the demands of our sophisticated practice.

Dr. Nguyen will join our dental family and begin seeing patients on July 24.  We cannot wait to introduce him to each of you!  In the meantime, please be sure to check out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/rcmdds/) and blog (http://www.rcmdds.com/blog) for further information on Dr. Nguyen, as well as additional exciting news about our office in the coming weeks. We are also in the process of updating our website with all of our exciting announcements and a more in-depth introduction to Dr. Nguyen.

In closing, on behalf of my entire team, allow me once more to offer my heartfelt thanks for your loyalty to our practice.  We look forward to continuing to provide each of you with expert and timely care.

Sincerely,

Richard C. Mullens, DDS

Tell us about your summer!

July 5th, 2017

The dog days of summer are upon us, and what better time for Dr. Richard Mullens and our team to ask our patients about their summer!

Whether you visited our nation’s capital, went on a camping trip, or just stayed in Jacksonville, FL and relaxed, we want to know how you’re all spending your summer! Please feel free to share your summer plans and experiences with us below or on our Facebook page as summer rolls on!

Happy Fourth of July!

July 2nd, 2017

It's a party in the USA today, and if there's one reason we are celebrating, it's because of our wonderful patient family! Your continued support and trust go a long way in helping our business thrive and allow us to provide our high level of care.

We have achieved the American Dream.  Especially during this celebration of our country's independence, we hope that you know how thankful we are for your business and loyalty.

Stay tuned. In the coming week, we will announce some EXCITING NEWS about your dental home.

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy holiday!

Sincerely,

Dr. Richard Mullens & Team

The Secret to Lifelong Teeth Whitening

June 28th, 2017

Have you ever noticed your attention being instantly drawn to peoples’ teeth when they smile at you? Some people have dull and yellowing teeth, while others have teeth that appear bright white. Everyone’s teeth naturally dull over time because of aging and the contact your teeth have with staining foods, such as chocolate and coffee. However, teeth-whitening treatments can help you keep your teeth white for life.

Get Regular Treatments

The effects of teeth whitening or bleaching treatments are only temporary, so regular treatments at our office are necessary to keep your teeth white for life. Bleaching too frequently, though, can wear away your tooth enamel. The effects of in-office bleaching can last for several months to a year, while you may need to repeat your use of at-home bleaching kits every few months to maintain your white teeth. Whitening toothpastes do not contain bleach, so you can use them daily. The American Dental Association suggests asking your dentist for advice on which treatment is best for you.

Have Realistic Expectations

Not everyone’s teeth can be turned bright white, according to the American Dental Association. Your teeth may naturally be a light yellowish color that lends itself well to teeth-whitening procedures, but bleach is not likely to be effective for grayish teeth. Brownish teeth fall somewhere in between.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Your teeth whitening efforts will not be as effective if your teeth are in poor health. Visible fillings, implants, or bridges that are metallic stand out against the white color you want to achieve. You can help prevent tooth decay and reduce your risk of needing these unsightly treatments by maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. In addition to brushing your teeth twice a day to remove dirt and potential staining agents, the actions below can promote a healthy mouth.

  • Floss every day
  • Visit our office regularly
  • Rinse your mouth with water after each meal and snack
  • Limit sugary and starchy foods and beverages, especially between meals

Dental Veneers

June 21st, 2017

Are you looking to improve the appearance of your front teeth? Dental veneers are widely used to improve the appearance of front teeth and are a much more conservative option than a full dental crown. Veneers can be used to improve the appearance of staining, large gaps, large fillings, chipped teeth, or overall shape. Veneers are a thin covering over the front and biting end of the tooth used to restore the beauty of a smile. Over the years we have helped many patients who opted for veneers and now have the confidence to smile again.

Dental veneers are made in a lab from long-lasting porcelain materials. The shade can be chosen to a desirable color to whiten the appearance of your smile. Dental veneers are usually placed on the anterior, or front teeth, where the chewing forces are not as hard as the back teeth. The process of placing veneers is relatively easy requiring only two dental appointments. In some cases, only one appointment is needed. It depends on the fabrication process.

The first appointment is to “prep” the teeth and take an impression to be sent to a lab to fabricate the veneers. Veneers are fairly conservative in the preparation as it requires a small amount of space to be created on the face (front), bottom, and sides of each tooth to allow space for the veneer to be placed and look natural. You will leave the office with temporary veneers for the next week or two while the permanent veneers are being made.

The second appointment is to place the veneers and make minor adjustments if needed. What a difference it makes in the appearance of the teeth! If you’re interested in learning more, give Dr. Richard Mullens a call today!

Germs living on my toothbrush? Say it ain’t so!

June 14th, 2017

You may have heard talk about the germs that can reside on your toothbrush and thought, “really?”

It’s true—there are several kinds of bacteria that can lurk on the bristles of your toothbrush, including streptococci, staphylococci, Herpes Simplex I, and the Influenza virus. To protect your toothbrush from bacteria, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team want you to consider the following three tips:

  • Wash your hands before and after brushing.
  • Allow the brush to air dry after each use, as harmful bacteria dies after being exposed to oxygen. It is best to disinfect your toothbrush weekly and allow it to dry in between use. Store the toothbrush in an upright position to allow water to drain and dry faster
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or after being ill. Worn bristles are less effective in properly cleaning your teeth, and can actually be damaging to teeth if used too long!

We hope these tips help! Feel free to give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office or ask us on Facebook if you have any questions!

Healthy Summer Foods

June 7th, 2017

It’s summer—that wonderful time of year when fresh and delicious produce abounds. Dr. Richard Mullens will tell you that your teeth, gums, and tissues all rely on an appropriate mix of vitamins and minerals to maintain good oral health no matter what time of year. In previous studies, nutrients in fruits and vegetables such as dietary fiber, potassium, and antioxidants have all been associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and cancers, including oral cancer.

Here are four foods we want you to enjoy this summer to ensure a healthy mouth:

Watermelons and Strawberries

Watermelons have high water content, which dilutes the affects of the sugars they contain and stimulates the flow of saliva. In addition, research shows that eating foods full of water (watermelon is 92 percent water) helps keep you satiated on fewer calories. Finally, in addition to containing skin-protecting lycopene, eating watermelon can help you stay hydrated during the summer months, which not only keeps your memory sharp and your mood stable, but also helps keep your body cool.

Strawberries are juicy and delicious, and they’re also considered a superfood. Nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants (such as vitamin C, which can help with cancer prevention), strawberries also promote eye health, help fight bad cholesterol, and regulate blood pressure.

Apples

Did you know consuming apples can help you attain whiter, healthier teeth? It’s true. Biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, and in the process, lowers the levels of bacteria and other harmful acids, leading to a lower likelihood of tooth decay. Apple consumption can also boost your immune system, reducing cholesterol and helping you avoid Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's diseases. Finally, eating an apple a day has been linked to heart health, including a lower risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a delicious and healthy snack and can help you ward off cancer. The yummy red fruit contains lycopene, which helps protect your skin from sunburn. Tomatoes can also help you fight heart disease due to the niacin, folate, and vitamin B6 nutrients they contain. They’re high in crucial antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin A, which work to prevent DNA damage.

Timing Matters!

May 31st, 2017

Many patients at our office are under the impression that harder brushing leads to cleaner teeth, but that is not true. Gentle brushing is just as effective, and less likely to cause damage. Other good brushing habits include brushing your teeth at least twice a day, replacing your toothbrush after a few months, and brushing for at least two minutes each time. It can be tough to keep track of the time when you are aiming for two minutes, but these tips can help.

Set a Timer

Setting a timer is a sure-fire way to hit your two-minute goal on the dot. Leave a kitchen timer in your bathroom so that it is easy to set each time you start brushing your teeth. Hit each surface of all of your top and bottom teeth, and keep brushing until the timer rings. Many electric toothbrushes have a built-in timer that you can use instead of a kitchen timer.

Entertain Yourself for Two Minutes

Time flies when you are having fun, and you can stay entertained as you brush your teeth for two minutes. These are some ideas.

  • Time your favorite song and sing it in your head as you brush your teeth.
  • Find a two-minute video on the Internet that you want to watch, and start it when you begin to brush your teeth.
  • Do squats in the bathroom as you brush. Go down for three slow counts, and up for three slow counts. By the time you get to 20 squats, your two minutes will be over.

Let Your Children Use Technology

Toothsavers is an app designed to inspire children to brush. The app was developed and released by the Ad Council and the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives. It includes:

  • A game to fight an evil sorceress who causes cavities
  • A two-player version that lets children interact with friends and parents
  • Real-life reminders to brush twice a day
  • A built-in timer that helps kids brush for two minutes

Avoid Brushing After Every Single Meal!

May 24th, 2017

Here is some surprising yet worthwhile advice you might be hearing for the first time: Brushing can be incredibly bad for your child’s teeth if done right after eating certain foods.

Enamel is an extremely hard mineral on the exterior of each tooth. It’s actually the hardest substance in the human body: It’s even stronger than bones! Its only weakness is that acids in the food we eat can easily destroy enamel.

Healthy teeth thrive in an environment that has the proper pH balance. That ensures the mouth doesn’t start the process of demineralization—the process when alkaline turns into acid, which attacks and softens the enamel on the surface of your child’s teeth. Pores and fissures form, and that’s when the harmful bacteria go to work.

A mouth’s pH level fluctuates depending on what is eaten throughout the day. Examples of the most common highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of pH in the mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid.

Can brushing your child’s teeth immediately after a meal lead to even more damage? The answer is yes!

Eating highly acidic foods causes your child’s teeth to be more susceptible. If your child brushes when the teeth have been weakened by acids, even more destruction can happen to the enamel. Your child’s toothbrush bristles will actually wear away some of the enamel. So it’s healthier for your child to wait at least an hour after eating or snacking to brush.

Good preventive measures to take instead of brushing after your child eats include:

  • Rinsing or drinking water
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Consuming dairy or non-acidic foods to conclude a meal

These practices help produce saliva, which in turn restores a healthy pH level in your child’s mouth and coats the teeth with minerals they need.

Once your child’s mouth is restored to a healthy pH level, he or she may brush normally. Keep in mind that acidic foods can weaken the enamel on the teeth and take the right measures to prevent spiking pH levels.

Still have questions? Call our Jacksonville, FL office and schedule an appointment for your child with Dr. Richard Mullens.

Diabetes and Dental Care

May 17th, 2017

When most people think of complications of diabetes, they think of an increased risk of blindness, limb amputation, heart disease, and neuropathy. However, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team want you to know that emerging research is revealing a possible connection between uncontrolled diabetes and dental problems. Whether you have type 2 diabetes or type 1, uncontrolled high blood glucose level increases the risk of certain oral health conditions, including:

  • Cavities
  • Tooth decay
  • Gingivitis (early gum disease)
  • Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)

Diabetes and proper dental care

If you have diabetes, it is more important than ever to take your dental care seriously and practice excellent oral hygiene. These recommendations will help:

  1. Manage your diabetes. First and foremost, it is vital to control your high blood sugar in accordance with your physician’s instructions — not only for the sake of your oral health, but your overall health. With properly controlled blood sugar, you reduce your risk of developing gingivitis and other oral health issues.
  2. Practice good at-home oral hygiene. This means brushing at least twice a day AND flossing. At a minimum, brush your teeth in the morning and at night, but after meals and snacks if you can. Use a soft toothbrush to avoid injuring your gums. Don’t neglect flossing, because it helps to remove plaque below the gumline and between teeth.
  3. Visit the dentist regularly. While it is important to see the dentist every six months even if you don’t have diabetes, it is even more crucial to have a professional teeth cleaning and dental exam if you have the disease. As dental professionals, our team at our office is able to detect early dental conditions before they develop into something more serious and costly.
  4. Tell your dentist that you have diabetes. If you were recently diagnosed with diabetes, be sure to let us know as soon as possible, and remind us at every appointment.
  5. Be conscientious about examining your own gums and teeth. By looking for early signs of gum disease, which can include bleeding gums, irritated gums, gums that are red (versus a healthy pink), or swelling, we can get started on treatment right away.

Managing diabetes takes effort, not only in watching your diet, exercising, monitoring your blood sugar levels, and taking your medication, but obtaining proper dental care.

To learn more about the link between diabetes and oral health, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Are you at risk for sleep apnea?

May 10th, 2017

If you are one of the more than 12 million North Americans who suffers from sleep apnea, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team want you to know we can help. Sleep apnea, a disorder that causes frequent disruption to your body’s sleep patterns, is also potentially dangerous, as it causes abnormal pauses in breathing or very shallow breathing during the night.

For those who suffer from sleep apnea, it may seem impossible to wake up feeling rested and energized. You may, for example, sleep for eight hours, but your body might have only received three or four hours of quality sleep.

Besides losing a good night’s sleep, the risk of heart attack and stroke have been linked to sleep apnea. Other conditions associated with sleep apnea include depression, irritability, high blood pressure, memory loss, and sexual dysfunction.

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax to the point of inhibiting natural breathing. The muscles used to support the soft palate relax and the airway closes, causing breathing to stop for anywhere from ten to 20 seconds, which is dangerous because it lowers the oxygen level in the brain.

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, and CPAP devices (continuous positive airway pressure), among other treatments, are often prescribed for sleep apnea treatment. Another treatment option is an oral sleep apnea appliance, which positions your mouth in a way that brings your lower jaw forward and opens up your airway for unobstructed breathing.

At our office, we truly care about the health and well-being of our patients. In fact, we regularly screen our patients for sleep disorders during their regular checkups, and we will refer you to a sleep apnea specialist if an issue is detected. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office if you think you have sleep apnea or if you have any questions or concerns!

The Effects of Sleep Apnea on Dental Health

May 3rd, 2017

Sleep apnea is an increasingly common medical condition, and one that can have a truly devastating effect on the waking life of the sufferer. Those who suffer from the disorder may find that they suffer any or all of the following side effects:

  • Saliva has several important jobs, and one of them is to protect and heal your tongue, your gums, and the inside of your mouth. Snoring and sleep apnea dry out your mouth, meaning there isn’t enough time for your saliva to do all this vital work.
  • Over an extended period of sleep apnea, it’s likely that the sockets of your teeth will begin to dry out overnight as a result of your gasping for air and snoring between breaths. If this happens too frequently over a long a period of time, it can start to loosen your teeth.
  • Those with sleep apnea often also practice bruxism, which is the habit of clenching and grinding your teeth together as you sleep. This can lead to all manner of problems, including TMJ disorder, damage to the enamel, headaches, and toothaches.
  • For obvious reasons, sleep apnea does not lead to a particularly good night’s sleep. This means that sufferers are often tired and irritable, and suffer from the many other ill effects of sleep deprivation.
  • While it is unclear whether the reasons behind this are correlative or causative, it has been suggested there are links between sleep apnea and cardiac arrests, depressive disorders, Type Two diabetes, cancerous tumors, “silent” strokes, and various complications of pregnancy.

While sleep apnea can be a troubling condition, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office will tell you it is eminently treatable. There are a number of ways to combat it, ranging from simple sleep hygiene to use of a CPAP machine. Of course, if it is possible for you to reduce your weight a little in a safe and healthy way, some have found that is also helpful in combating the problem. Sleep apnea is very easy to treat, once it has been correctly identified.

If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, or if you would like to know more about the condition, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens.

Dental Implants vs. Natural Teeth

April 26th, 2017

If you're considering getting an implant, you'll most certainly have questions for Dr. Richard Mullens. You might be wondering how a dental implant compares to a real tooth. Let's look at some of the differences between implants and natural teeth.

It should be noted that one of the primary goals of implant dentistry is to try to provide the same form and function as your natural teeth. However, with that in mind, know that an implant is not a tooth. An implant does not decay and does not have dental pulp or periodontal membrane like teeth.

An implant won't always work in every case, but they do have some great advantages when they are called for. Some advantages of an implant:

  • Often last for decades without needing to be replaced
  • Create a functional and aesthetically pleasing replacement for your missing tooth
  • Don't require surrounding teeth for support
  • Do not decay like natural teeth
  • Can be fixed or removable
  • Are able to replace single tooth or multiple teeth

There are downsides to implants where natural teeth win out. The disadvantages of implants include:

  • Higher cost compared to traditional dentistry
  • It's a surgical procedure which requires a period of healing afterward
  • Fracturing of fixtures and loosening of screws can occur (only in about 5% of patients)
  • Since there is no cushion between the implant and the bone, fracturing of crowns and bridges is more common with implants than with natural teeth, though this is rare.

It's best to speak with Dr. Richard Mullens about your options regarding implants. Let us know what you want to achieve and we'll work with you as best we can to accomplish that. And don't hesitate to contact our Jacksonville, FL office for further questions about the procedure.

What is a crown?

April 19th, 2017

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office hear this question all the time. Millions of people have dental crowns that artificially restore the chewing surface of a tooth. Also known as caps, these restorations surround the entire portion of the tooth that is above the gum line. Crowns are custom fabricated to match the color, shape, and size of other teeth and are visually undetectable to others. Several types of materials can be used to create crowns, including stainless steel, resin, metal alloys, porcelain fused to metal, or ceramic. When properly cared for and accurately fit, crowns can stay in place for a decade or more.

There are many reasons to get a dental crown, including:

  • To restore a broken or cracked tooth
  • To protect a tooth after a root canal
  • To restore a severely decayed tooth
  • To help anchor a dental bridge
  • To complete a dental implant
  • To protect a tooth that is at high risk for developing decay
  • For cosmetic purposes

Getting a dental crown

The process of getting a dental crown begins at our Jacksonville, FL office. X-rays are used to ensure the teeth are healthy enough to receive a crown. If the roots and surrounding bone are in satisfactory condition, the tooth will be numbed, filed, and reshaped in preparation for the crown. If the tooth root is not healthy, a root canal may be necessary first.

After the tooth is prepared, a special paste is placed over the upper and lower teeth to make impressions. These impressions serve as blueprints for the dental laboratory responsible for making the crown. They also help ensure the position of the new crown will not negatively affect a patient’s bite. The prepared tooth is protected by a temporary crown while the permanent one is made. When ready, the permanent crown replaces the temporary crown and is cemented in place.

To learn more about crowns, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Easing Your Allergies with Latex-Free Dentistry

April 12th, 2017

Imagine this scenario: you go to the dentist to have a cavity filled, and an hour after the procedure you have a runny nose, scratchy throat, and your arms are breaking out in blotchy, red hives. In other words, you’re in worse shape after the visit to the dentist than you were before you walked in to have the cavity fixed. If you experience any of these types of symptoms or side effects, chances are you have a latex allergy.

What is a latex allergy?

A latex allergy is a hypersensitivity to latex proteins. If you have this allergy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you avoid direct contact with any materials that contain latex. While latex gloves are known to cause allergic reactions in people with a latex allergy, certain metals, plastics, and other materials used in dental care can also cause an adverse response.

A runny nose and itchy eyes are common allergic reactions to latex. However, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office want you to know it can also trigger more severe symptoms, including asthma, wheezing, and cardiovascular and gastrointestinal ailments.

A latex-safe dental environment

Many dental offices screen patients for a latex allergy. This is only beneficial, however, if you’re already aware you have a latex allergy. The best thing you can do to ease your allergies is to find a dentist who has a latex-safe environment. A latex-safe dental environment observes the following protocols:

  • All patients are screened for a latex allergy.
  • No personnel use latex gloves.
  • All latex products are removed from the patient’s vicinity, including rubber dams and elastics.
  • Work areas contaminated with latex powder are cleaned frequently.
  • Signs are posted to communicate all latex allergy procedures in case of an emergency.

If a latex allergy is part of your medical history, then it’s in your best interest to find a latex-free dental environment. To learn more about latex-free dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Should I have TMD treated? Why?

April 5th, 2017

TMD occurs when your bite is not properly aligned. It can cause the jaw to experience unnatural stresses and prevent it from resting properly when your mouth is closed. If you have TMD, you may have noticed a clicking noise when you chew, speak, or yawn; you may even experience pain and discomfort during these actions. In some cases, your jaw may feel “locked” following a wide yawn.

TMD can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw as well as headaches that occur when the muscles that help the joints open and close become overtired. But beyond the pain and discomfort, TMD can also cause serious dental problems if left untreated.

Because TMD is associated with a poor bite or malocclusion (which literally translated means “bad closure”), your teeth do not meet properly. As a result, extra tension and stress may be placed on your teeth, resulting in chips and cracks that allow cavities to form and may even result in tooth loss. Over time, TMD can cause teeth to break, which requires cosmetic treatment to rebuild your healthy smile, and ensure the broken tooth and its neighbors are protected from decay.

While treating TMD used to mean expensive and invasive surgery to reposition or even rebuild the jaw joints, today’s approach at our office is much more patient-friendly. By restoring broken, chipped, or cracked teeth, replacing missing teeth, and using braces or other dental devices, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team can help realign your jaw so it’s able to function properly, and eliminate pain and discomfort. And there’s more good news: By restoring damaged teeth and tooth surfaces and straightening crooked teeth, you’re also left with a more attractive smile once treatment is completed.

Every patient is different, and that means your course of treatment will be different too. After a thorough examination of your teeth and jaw, our experienced staff at our office will work with you to develop a treatment plan that will have you feeling better – and looking better – sooner than you ever expected. Don’t let your untreated TMD cause more pain and problems; give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office today to schedule a consultation.

Top Five Reasons to Choose Veneers

March 29th, 2017

If you notice every imperfection in your smile and you are aiming for a more ideal-looking smile, veneers might be for you. Veneers are common tools in cosmetic dentistry for improving the look of your teeth. They are thin layers, either made of resin composite or dental porcelain, that go over your teeth. If you are considering dental veneers, these five reasons to choose them may help persuade you.

1. They hide imperfections.

The basis of cosmetic dentistry is providing an attractive smile, and veneers are designed to hide imperfections such as chipped, uneven, or badly aligned teeth. With veneers, teeth are even and uniformly colored.

2. They are durable.

Dental veneers can last for a decade to up to 30 years, so you do not need to continually go back to our Jacksonville, FL office to replace them. On average, veneers last longer than standard fillings.

3. You can get the process done quickly.

Often, you can get a full set of dental veneers in a three visits and within a few weeks. The first appointment is a consultation to evaluate your teeth and plan your treatment. At the next visit, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team prepare your teeth for veneers and take an impression of your teeth so the laboratory can custom-make your veneers. During the final visit, we bond the new veneers to the surfaces of your teeth.

4. They can whiten the appearance of your teeth.

Coffee, smoking, excessive fluoride, and certain drugs can yellow your teeth over time. Dental veneers can be colored to have a bright white appearance so your teeth appear noticeably whiter. This can be especially beneficial for individuals whose teeth are naturally off-white and do not respond well to bleach-based whitening treatments.

5. They can fix minor dental problems.

Dental veneers are not solely cosmetic. They can improve a variety of dental concerns, such as teeth with uneven spaces. They can hide the appearance of chipped and broken teeth, and make more even teeth that are worn down, spaced unevenly, or shaped irregularly. Since Dr. Richard Mullens can manufacture the veneers to match your natural tooth color, these thin layers are more attractive than unsightly fixes such as metal fillings.

What did the first dentures look like?

March 22nd, 2017

Remember hearing about George Washington and his wooden choppers? Not his tools for cutting down cherry trees, but his false teeth.

Actually, George’s teeth were made of ivory but were so stained that they appeared to be made out of wood. You might think those were the earliest dentures. In fact, the history of false teeth goes back centuries before President Washington.

Ancient Times

The earliest known dentures consisted of human or animal teeth tied together with wires. Examples of such dentures have been found in Egyptian and Mexican archeological sites. Other ancient peoples use carved stones and shells to replace lost teeth. These early dentures were probably made for cosmetic purposes. The materials they used were not likely to stand up to the pressure placed on teeth during eating.

The earliest surviving set of complete dentures were actually made out of wood (sorry, George). They were found in Japan and date back to the 16th century.

Human and animal teeth continued to be popular materials for dentures until the 20th century in some parts of the world. But the difficulty obtaining healthy teeth (and the risk of disease from unhealthy teeth) led dentists to search for other substances.

Modern Era

In the 18th century, dentists began using porcelain, ivory, gold, silver and even rubber as tooth substitutes. Dentures made with these substances could be used in eating. They were often ill-fitting, however, which may explain why George Washington looks puffy and glum in many portraits.

Porcelain and metals were the most popular denture materials until about 1950, when plastics and resins were developed. Tough and durable, these materials make up most of the dentures Dr. Richard Mullens and our team use today.

Still, what goes around comes around. Researchers at the University of Texas are looking at using human teeth for dentures once again. Only in this case, the researchers hope to use biotechnology to spur the growth of new sets of teeth to replace those lost over a lifetime.

Five Things You Should Never Do With Your Toothbrush

March 16th, 2017

When’s the last time you gave your toothbrush any serious thought? Sure, you use it every day (and ideally twice), and you know that with a dollop of toothpaste it waxes up your pearly whites nicely, not to mention preventing bacteria, plaque, and inflammation.

But what are the things you should never do with your toothbrush? Here’s a brush-up on five toothbrush no-nos, from Dr. Mullens.

1. If you have your toothbrush too close to the toilet, you’re brushing your teeth with what’s in your toilet. In other words, keep your toothbrush stored as far from the toilet as possible.

2. The average toothbrush harbors ten million microbes. Many families keep their toothbrushes jammed together in a cup holder on the bathroom sink, but this can lead to cross-contamination. Family members’ toothbrushes should be kept an inch apart. Don’t worry; they won’t take it personally.

3. Don’t delay replacing your toothbrush. It’s best to purchase a new one every three to four months, but by all means get one sooner if the bristles are broken down because of your frequent and vigorous brushing. If you have a cold or the flu, replace your toothbrush after you recover.

4. Store your toothbrush out of the reach of toddlers. The last thing you want is for your toothbrush to be chewed like a pacifier, dipped in toilet water, or used to probe the dusty heating ducts.

5. Sharing is caring, right? Your parents probably taught you the importance of sharing back when you were, well, dipping their improperly stored toothbrushes in toilet water. But here’s the thing: As important as sharing is, there are some things you just don’t share, and your toothbrush is one of them.

How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

March 9th, 2017

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Dr. Richard Mullens can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Jacksonville, FL office.

Famous Dentists in History

February 22nd, 2017

Every six months or so you head down to your local dentist for a teeth cleaning, but have you ever thought that your dentist could one day be famous? Well, the chances are unlikely, however, there have been a number of dentists throughout history that have achieved acclaim and celebrity coming from a profession that is not typically associated with such regard. Here are a few examples:

Doc Holliday

Perhaps most famous for his gun fight at the O.K Corral alongside his buddy, Wyatt Earp, but "Doc" also had a day job as a dentist. He was trained in Pennsylvania and later opened a thriving practice near Atlanta. Sadly, Holliday came down with a case of tuberculosis and had to close his practice. He then packed his stuff and moved west, and we all know how the rest of the story goes.

Mark Spitz

Known around the world as a champion swimmer, Spitz was actually accepted into dentistry school before he became an Olympic gold medalist. While he ultimately decided not to attend school, it's safe to say he made the right choice considering he now has seven gold medals.

Paul Revere

The most famous dentist to come out of the American Revolution, Paul Revere was a man of many hats. He, of course, is known throughout history books for warning the colonies of the impending British troops on the attack, but when he wasn't involved in the fight he had a few different jobs. He was a silversmith, but also advertised his services as a dentist. More specifically, he specialized in making false teeth for people in need.

Miles Davis' Father

Miles Davis Jr. was one of the most acclaimed and influential jazz musicians of all time and his dad was a dentist. Miles Davis Sr. had a thriving dental practice and was a member of the NAACP. Dentistry was how he paid the bills and provided for Miles Jr., so in some ways it seems we all have the dental profession to thank for allowing Miles Jr. to become such a fantastic musician, and treating us to his jazz stylings.

Dr. Richard Mullens may not be famous, but you’ll still receive excellent care each and every time you visit our Jacksonville, FL office.

Headaches: The Dental Connection

February 15th, 2017

Many people suffer through headaches for years without getting to the root cause of their problem. If you find yourself constantly popping painkillers to get through the day, it might be worth a trip to see a medical professional – but it may not be the person you think.

Talking to Dr. Richard Mullens can be a great start when dealing with chronic headaches, because dental issues frequently contribute to head pain. In fact, the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain estimates that 80% of headaches are caused by muscle tension, which often originates in the jaws.

What Do Tension Headaches Feel Like?

A tension headache can originate on one side of your head or can pervade your entire skull. Typically, tension headaches feel like a dull, throbbing ache inside your head. Some patients at our Jacksonville, FL office report that they feel as though a metal band has been wrapped around their head and is causing significant pressure. Several common symptoms suggest that tension headaches may be caused by dental issues:

  1. Feeling as though your head or scalp is painful to the merest touch
  2. Experiencing a dull or throbbing pain behind the eyes
  3. Clicking or popping sounds in your jaw joints
  4. Grinding teeth or clenching the jaws, particularly in times of anxiety or during the night
  5. Feeling as though your jaw muscles are sore when you wake up from sleep

Dental Origins of Headaches

Several dozen muscles control your facial expressions, jaw movements, and motions such as swallowing. When these muscles are contracted for long periods of time, tension builds up within the muscle and can lead to headaches. This may happen if you clench or grind your teeth at night, your bite is misaligned, or you have muscle imbalances in the jaw or neck.

Dental Treatments for Tension Headaches

Fortunately, a trip to our office can be a fruitful way to alleviate your headaches, including the following treatments:

  1. Bite. In many cases, correcting your bite through orthodontics releases the stress on your jaw and muscles, and reduces the frequency of headaches.
  2. Nightguard. A nightguard, which resembles a sports mouthguard, may also be helpful if you frequently grind your teeth or clench your jaws during sleep. Nightguards distribute the tension from your clenched jaws and reduce the possibility of dental damage.
  3. Physical therapy and relaxation. Correcting the posture of your shoulders, neck, and head may alleviate muscle tension associated with headaches.

The Importance of Baby Teeth

February 8th, 2017

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team know it can be easy to underestimate the significance of baby teeth. At our office, we sometimes meet parents who assume that since their child's baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, eventually fall out and are replaced, they are less important. But did you know baby teeth serve purposes other than biting, chewing, and digesting food properly?

Baby teeth are essential not only for your child’s language development, but they also serve other important functions, like contributing to the normal development of your child’s jaw bones and facial muscles. Baby teeth also reserve space for your child’s future permanent teeth.

So, when do baby teeth fall out?

A baby tooth is intended to remain in your child’s mouth until the permanent tooth underneath it is ready to take its place. Sometimes, either due to a tooth being knocked out accidentally or being removed because of tooth decay, kids lose baby teeth before the permanent teeth are ready to erupt. If a tooth is lost, the teeth on either side of the open space may possibly push into the open space. The result? There may not be enough room for the permanent tooth when it is finally ready to erupt.

If you have any questions about your toddler’s teeth, or if your child is experiencing issues that concern you, please give us a call to set up an appointment at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office.

Protecting Your Child’s Smile with Mouthguards

February 1st, 2017

If your child participates in sports or other physical activities, it’s wise to consider getting a mouthguard. Also known as mouth protectors, mouthguards are a device worn over the teeth to lessen the impact of a blow to the face.

This reduces the chance that your child might lose teeth or sustain other serious oral injuries. We recommend that all patients involved in a contact sport such as wrestling, football, or hockey wear a mouthguard because of the high risk of such injuries.

However, anyone involved in a physically demanding sport or activity should wear a mouthguard as well.

Can you imagine what it would be like to lose a few of your front teeth? The way you talk, eat, and smile would all change.

Injuries that can be sustained when not wearing a mouthguard include:

  • Chipped and broken teeth
  • Fractured jaws
  • Root damage
  • Concussions
  • Injury to the lips, cheeks, or gums

Types of Mouthguards

There are three different types of mouthguards — typically made of a soft plastic material or laminate. You can decide which works best for your child in terms of budget, fit, and comfort.

  • Stock mouthguards are prefabricated to a standard size. They offer adequate protection, but you need to find one that fits your child properly and comfortably. Stock mouthguards are readily available at department stores, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards are placed in boiling water to soften them, then into the mouth so they can conform to the shape of the teeth. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are more expensive, but offer a more customized fit than stock ones. You can find these in department stores, pharmacies, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Custom-made mouthguards are created just for your child by Dr. Richard Mullens. These offer the best fit and comfort of all the options, but they are also the most expensive. Ask a member of our Jacksonville, FL team for more information.

The American Dental Association says a good mouthguard should be easy to clean, fit properly, be comfortable, and resist tearing or damage. It shouldn’t restrict speech or breathing.

Still not sure if your child needs a mouthguard or which kind is right for his or her smile? Ask Dr. Richard Mullens or one of our staff members for more information.

Fluoride Use in Adolescents

January 25th, 2017

Fluoride is a mineral that plays an essential role in oral health. In fact, the significant reduction in American tooth decay in recent decades can be attributed to a greater availability of fluoride in public water supplies, toothpaste, and other resources. When it comes in contact with the teeth, fluoride helps protect the enamel from acid and plaque bacteria. In some cases, it can even reverse tooth decay in its earliest stages.

Despite the benefits of fluoride, tooth decay is still common, especially among teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control reports that cavities can be found in more than half of young teens and two-thirds of older teens over age 16. Many of those teens are deficient in fluoride, either due to a lack of public water fluoridation or the use of bottled water. So how can parents ensure their teens are getting the fluoride they need to facilitate strong, healthy teeth?

Monitor Fluoride Exposure

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office recommend you start by measuring your teen’s fluoride exposure. Make sure you purchase fluoridated toothpaste for your household, and find out if your tap water is fluoridated. If your teen primarily consumes bottled water, examine the bottle to determine whether fluoride has been added. The majority of bottled waters are not supplemented with fluoride, but those that are will be clearly labeled.

Fluoride Supplementation

Dr. Richard Mullens may recommend topical fluoride treatments at routine dental exams. These treatments are painless for your teen and may help establish stronger enamel that is more resistant to plaque and tooth decay. If you have a public water supply that is non-fluoridated, we may recommend fluoride supplementation between visits. These can be administered as drops, tablets, or vitamins.

Keep in mind that fluoride is most important for children and teens under the age of 16. Be proactive about your teen’s oral health by speaking with us about your family’s fluoride needs at your next dental visit.

For more information about fluoride, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

How Computers Help Dental Implants Look Natural

January 18th, 2017

Never before have dental implants looked as natural and aesthetically pleasing as they do today. With the help of computer-aided design and computer aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), Dr. Richard Mullens and our team are able to create implants with impeccable fit and finish. Although these technologies have been in use since the 1980s, it's only recently that they became efficient and cost-effective enough to be useful.

Dr. Richard Mullens can also take digital scans of your teeth, providing a much more in-depth and accurate representation of them when compared to traditional X-rays. This scan can be used to create a physical model of your teeth through the use of 3D printing technology, allowing for the utmost in accuracy when planning your implant treatment.

Since each of our patients are unique, these CAD/CAM technologies offer a highly customized approach to implant dentistry that helps avoid the "one-size-fits-all" ways of the past. The goal is to have an implant look and function as closely as it can to the tooth it's replacing. That’s why these implants are typically milled using ceramic or composite resin — materials chosen due to their durability and resemblance to teeth.

Even the planning of your surgery can be aided and guided by computers. 3D CT scans create a digital representation of your mouth including all significant anatomical markers. This data is imported into planning software which, coupled with CAD/CAM implant technology, is able to 3D print surgical guides that snap into place over a patient's teeth. This means less risk for surgical error and much more accurately placed dental implants.

The main benefits of CAD/CAM dental implants are that they:

  • Are extremely accurate for every patient, down to 50 micrometers
  • Have better long-term results and more natural-looking implants
  • Can be manufactured quickly, the same day in many cases

Of course this is just a quick summary of the benefits, and a computer-modeled implant may not always be the best option. If you have questions about the dental implants or the technologies we use to make them look as natural as possible, feel free to contact our Jacksonville, FL office.

Tooth Worms? The History of Cavities and Tooth Fillings

January 10th, 2017

Scientists have discovered tooth decay in specimens that are more than 15,000 years old. The ancients once thought that cavities were caused by something called “tooth worms” … Eew! They didn’t exist, of course, but how else could humans explain the holes that cavities make in teeth?

The appearance of cavities on a widespread basis is often traced to the rise of farming. The new diet filled with grains and carbs made our mouths a haven for cavity-causing bacteria. As we added more sugar to our diets, our teeth got worse.

The “tooth worm” idea didn’t completely disappear until the 1700s when scientists finally began to understand the process of dental caries. Once that part of the puzzle was solved, they began focusing on filling existing cavities and preventing new ones.

Dental Fillings Come of Age

Many different materials, including beeswax, cork, aluminum, tin, and even asbestos, have been used to fill the holes caused by dental decay. Sometime in the mid-1800s, however, dentists began to use metal fillings such as gold, platinum, silver and lead amalgams.

The amalgam we use today is mixed from liquid mercury, silver, tin, copper, zinc, and other metals, but some patients still like the look of a gold filling. Newer options include composite-resin fillings, which are made from a tooth-colored mixture of plastic resin and finely ground glass-like or quartz particles that form a durable and discreet filling. Porcelain or ceramic fillings are natural in color, but more resistant to staining.

Dr. Richard Mullens can help decide which filling is best for you, based on cost as well as your dental and lifestyle needs. You may not have “tooth worms,” but if you have cavities, contact our Jacksonville, FL office so we can take the proper action to protect the health of your mouth.

How do I know if I need dentures?

January 6th, 2017

The choice to get dentures is a permanent decision so there are several important factors you should take into consideration. Many people have teeth that are not able to be repaired due to a variety of reasons, but for those who have the option and the money to repair their natural teeth they need to consider every choice they may have.

You have a choice!

Yes, it’s true! We do have a choice about whether we will have to have dentures in the future. Many people don’t realize that just by taking certain precautions they can actually prevent any serious issues from arising. For example, it’s very easy to reschedule that dental cleaning. However, it’s very important that you keep every appointment because Dr. Richard Mullens will be able to catch small problems before you even realize you have them. Also, if there are any signs of gum disease you will know early enough to stop any further damage. One of the main reasons that many people end up needing dentures is because of either gum disease or because severe cavities have cause too many teeth to be extracted.

If you notice any of the following you should make an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office right away:

  • Teeth are moving further apart
  • Soreness or tenderness of the gums
  • Trouble eating hard food
  • Sensitivity
  • You have already lost several teeth
  • Toothaches

The key to avoiding dentures is prevention. Avoiding dentures is not impossible and can be as simple as staying on top of your oral hygiene. However, if you are currently experiencing any dental issues you should see Dr. Richard Mullens now, because a small problem can quickly escalate into a very large and expensive dental procedure.

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About New Year's Eve

January 1st, 2017

It’s no secret that New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. Dr. Richard Mullens and our team love it too. It’s a fresh start, another year of surviving the crazy world we live in, a time to refocus on the things we want for ourselves, a celebration with those we love … the list goes on.

Dozens of countries welcome the New Year with over-the-top parties and celebrations. Because it’s a public holiday, many offices, businesses, and schools close for the day. As you think about your plans for this holiday, here are some fun facts about New Year’s that might surprise you!

Can you guess what the most common New Year’s resolutions are? You may already have one or two of these on your own personal list. The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to quit smoking, get a new job, lose weight, increase personal savings, and return to school. Just remember that coming up with a concrete plan to reach your goals is the surest way to achieve your resolutions!

About one million people brave the cold to watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City’s Times Square in person. Yes, that’s one million! This event is one of the most iconic celebrations in the world. People travel from all over just to experience it, but you can watch from the warmth and comfort of your living room.

If you’re not a fan of cabbage, collard greens, black-eyed peas, or ham hocks, you might want to revise your tastes. All these foods are all regarded as lucky fare on New Year’s Day. Unless you’re allergic, of course!

For many people in Mexico and Latin America, eating 12 grapes at midnight is a tradition that brings good luck in the 12 coming months. Most people even make a wish per grape!

Whether you’re celebrating in Jacksonville, FL or traveling elsewhere to observe the holiday, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy the company of your friends and family. Don’t forget to send warm wishes to your loved ones, and snag a midnight kiss with that special someone if you can!

We are committed to your oral health!

November 24th, 2016

Dental visits are often negatively associated with discomfort in many people’s minds. But at our office, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team have created an atmosphere focused on dispelling those myths. Our team is truly passionate about dentistry, and we are trained to gently accommodate each individual patient’s needs, with every procedure and visit performed with the utmost focus on your comfort.

If you are a patient of record at our office, we are committed to your oral health and are available to you. If you would like to learn more about stress-free dentistry at our Jacksonville, FL office, or to schedule an appointment, we encourage you to give us a call!

Warning Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

November 10th, 2016

When your wisdom teeth start to emerge it can definitely be painful, but it can be even worse if your wisdom teeth become impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth are trying to erupt but are unable to do so because there is not sufficient room for them to emerge. This usually means that your wisdom teeth are painfully lodged in your jawbone.

While you may not see any real signs of the emerging wisdom teeth when they are impacted, what you can’t see can still definitely hurt you. Some of the indicators of impacted wisdom teeth are listed below.

  • Jaw Pain: Pain in the back of your jaw is a common indicator of impacted wisdom teeth. The pain often concentrates in the area around your gums.
  • Changes in the Mouth: You may notice some changes in your mouth when you have impacted wisdom teeth. Reddish gums, swelling in the jaw, bleeding gums, and bad breath can all be indicators that you are dealing with impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Headaches: If you suddenly start having headaches, especially at the same time as some of the other issues mentioned above, they may indicate impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Chewing Issues: Problems with chewing normally can indicate impacted wisdom teeth. If you are having trouble making the chewing motions because your mouth won’t quite open and close as easily as it used to, impacted wisdom teeth may be the culprit.

The Solution

If you are suffering from impacted wisdom teeth, the best solution is usually going to be removal. This is not a problem that will resolve naturally, and in fact, your pain and other symptoms may worsen as your wisdom teeth become increasingly impacted. At our office, Dr. Richard Mullens can review the details of wisdom teeth removal surgery with you and help you determine if this is the best solution for your situation.

Five Things You Should Never Do With Your Toothbrush

November 3rd, 2016

When’s the last time you gave your toothbrush any serious thought? Sure, you use it every day (and ideally twice), and you know that with a dollop of toothpaste it waxes up your pearly whites nicely, not to mention preventing bacteria, plaque, and inflammation.

But what are the things you should never do with your toothbrush? Here’s a brush-up on five toothbrush no-nos, from our office.

1. If you have your toothbrush too close to the toilet, you’re brushing your teeth with what’s in your toilet. In other words, keep your toothbrush stored as far from the toilet as possible.

2. The average toothbrush harbors ten million microbes. Many families keep their toothbrushes jammed together in a cup holder on the bathroom sink, but this can lead to cross-contamination. Family members’ toothbrushes should be kept an inch apart. Don’t worry; they won’t take it personally.

3. Don’t delay replacing your toothbrush. It’s best to purchase a new one every three to four months, but by all means get one sooner if the bristles are broken down because of your frequent and vigorous brushing. If you have a cold or the flu, replace your toothbrush after you recover.

4. Store your toothbrush out of the reach of toddlers. The last thing you want is for your toothbrush to be chewed like a pacifier, dipped in toilet water, or used to probe the dusty heating ducts.

5. Sharing is caring, right? Your parents probably taught you the importance of sharing back when you were, well, dipping their improperly stored toothbrushes in toilet water. But here’s the thing: As important as sharing is, there are some things you just don’t share, and your toothbrush is one of them.

My child has canker sores! How can I help?

October 27th, 2016

According to the American Association of Pediatric Density, roughly one in five children suffers from canker sores. Canker sores are small sores that appear inside the cheeks, on the lips, on the surface of the gums, and under the tongue.

Even though, canker sores are not contagious, they do tend to run in families. There are several reasons your child may be suffering from canker sores including:

  • Children who have Vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid deficiencies tend to get canker sores more often than children who have normal levels of these vitamins and minerals.
  • Children who suffer from food allergies are also at a higher risk for developing canker sores. It’s difficult to determine what your child may be allergic to. If you feel strongly that the canker sores are related to an allergy, then a visit to an allergist is highly recommended.
  • Biting their lip or cheek can also result in a canker sore.
  • Any injury to mouth, where the skin breaks can cause a canker sore.
  • Brushing their teeth too hard can also be a problem.
  • Your child may be sensitive to an ingredient in their toothpaste. Try switching toothpastes and see if it makes a difference.
  • Emotional disturbances and stress are also factors to consider.

If your child has frequent canker sores a visit to our Jacksonville, FL office will be beneficial. Canker sores are painful and usually last about 14 days. Dr. Richard Mullens may recommend one or a few of the following treatment options:

  • Avoid food that is acidic, salty, and spicy.
  • A toothbrush with soft bristles may be helpful.
  • Avoid mouthwash and toothpaste that contain SLS.
  • Do not feed your child foods that they may be allergic to.

Canker Sore Remedies

  • Eating yogurt that contains Acidophilus will relieve the pain and help the canker sore heal faster.
  • Put one teaspoon of baking soda in an eight-ounce glass of lukewarm water. Have your child gargle and swish it around his or her mouth several times a day. Not only does this remedy relieve the pain, the canker sore could be gone in as little as 24 hours.
  • Place a wet tea bag on the sore and hold it there for a few minutes several times a day. This remedy will help with the pain and quickly heal the sore.
  • Camphor, Benzocaine, Lidocaine, and Orajel are over-the-counter medications that can help.

If you have questions about your child’s canker sore, contact Dr. Richard Mullens to schedule an appointment.

Early Detection is Key to Treating Oral Cancer

October 20th, 2016

Every hour of every day, someone in North America dies of oral cancer, the sixth most common diagnosed form of the disease. The five-year survival rate is only 50 percent, and oral cancer is one of the few cancers whose survival rate has not improved.

This grim statistic may make you think that oral cancer is a particularly deadly form, when in fact the high death rate has more to do with how late in its development oral cancer is detected. Routine screening is the key to early detection and survival, and in our continuing efforts to provide the most advanced technology and highest quality care available to our patients at our office, we proudly screen our patients for oral cancer.

So, who’s at risk for oral cancer?

Anyone can develop oral cancer, but some people are at a higher risk. These high-risk groups include those over the age of 50 and men, who are twice as likely as women to develop the disease. Smoking or chewing smokeless tobacco products, consuming alcohol excessively, and constant exposure to the sun at a young age are also risk factors.

How is oral cancer detected?

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office suggest our patients perform a monthly self-examination to check for unusual red or white patches, sores, lumps, or thickenings anywhere inside the mouth, on the lips, or in the throat and neck area.

We encourage you to give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office if you find any of these symptoms or if you have trouble swallowing or experience a chronic sore throat and hoarseness. During your visit, Dr. Richard Mullens will inspect the oral tissues and neck to determine if abnormalities are present.

What happens if oral cancer is detected?

If we discover abnormal tissues during your visit, a biopsy will be required. The results from the biopsy will be sent to a laboratory to determine if the cells are cancerous or precancerous. If a diagnosis of cancer is made, surgery, as well as treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation may be necessary. Dr. Richard Mullens and our team will work closely with your oncologist and other members of your medical team to ensure that you achieve the best possible oral health care both during and after treatment.

Finding out you have oral cancer can be devastating news. If you are concerned that you might be at risk for developing oral cancer, talk to us about screenings and other things you can do to reduce your risk. Through a routine visual inspection, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office can often detect premalignant abnormalities and cancer at an early stage when treatment is both less expensive and more successful, and can potentially save your life. Ask us about a screening during your next visit!

Top Five Dental Myths

October 13th, 2016

Sometimes the line between fact and fiction is easily blurred. This is certainly the case when it comes to dentistry, where myths and misconceptions abound. In a bid to put an end to health hoaxes, here are five dental myths to chew over.

Sugar Is the Number One Culprit of Tooth Decay

Sugar will rot your teeth. If you’re a parent, chances are you tell your children this every time they ask for something sweet. And chances are your parents told you the same thing. There’s no denying that sugar leads to cavity formation, but it's not the number one culprit of tooth decay. Sugar adds fuel to the fire, but it doesn’t light the match.

Going to the Dentist Is a Painful Experience

There are people who don’t go to the dentist because they think it’s going to be a painful experience. It’s time to put this myth to rest. New dental technology, developments in anesthetics and analgesics, and more conservative dental procedures have made visits to our Jacksonville, FL office a more comfortable experience.

Bad Breath Means You’re Not Brushing

Poor dental hygiene can cause bad breath, but it’s not the only thing that will leave you looking for a breath mint. There are many factors that can cause bad breath, including illness, acid reflux, medication, and dehydration. In addition, sometimes what you eat or drink can give you bad breath no matter how many times you brush and floss. Next time you order a sub for lunch, skip the onions and garlic.

Bleaching Products Weaken Teeth

Gels, pastes, strips — there are all sorts of products available to make our pearly whites even whiter. If used according to the directions, bleaching products are harmless. They do not affect the health or strength of the teeth, only the color. At the same time, too much bleaching can cause temporary tooth sensitivity or irritated gums; the enamel, however, is not weakened.

You Will Know When You Have Tooth Decay

This is the type of false information that can lead to serious dental problems. There are no early symptoms of tooth decay. By the time you experience pain, your tooth decay has led to nerve damage, which means your decay is advanced and extensive. The only way to know if you have tooth decay —and to prevent it — is to visit Dr. Richard Mullens twice a year for a checkup and cleaning.

What can I expect during my implant procedure?

October 6th, 2016

Dental implants are a surgical procedure done by Dr. Richard Mullens right here at our Jacksonville, FL office. Screw-like parts made of titanium are inserted into your jaw bone and act as the root of your tooth. An artificial tooth will be placed on top of the screw, usually made out of ceramic or layered porcelain. The dental implant will look and feel just like the natural tooth you lost.

How much time will the dental implant surgery take?

There are numerous factors that determine the length of time for the dental implant procedure:

  • If you’re having one tooth replaced or several
  • The teeth that are being replaced
  • If you need a tooth or teeth extracted before the implant placement
  • Any last minute questions or concerns you may need addressed

All of the above factors will also govern the amount of visits to our Jacksonville, FL office you will need to make throughout your dental implant treatment period. For example, a single tooth dental implant surgery typically takes one to two hours. This also includes the amount of time it takes to put on your gown, hair cap, and other surgical dressing preparations before you are able to enter the sterile surgical environment.

Does getting an implant hurt?

With nearly any surgical procedure, you will feel some sort of discomfort. However, most patients report that their pain was tolerable after their dental implant surgery. In fact, the majority of patients said the discomfort was a lot less than they expected. Dr. Richard Mullens will prescribe pain medications to help with any discomfort you may experience once you get home.

How will I feel after the dental implant treatment?

It is normal to have some bruising and swelling in the soft tissue and gum area. Usually the pain or discomfort does not require the use of anything more than an over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. In addition, you will have the prescription for a stronger pain medication if you need it. You should be able to work the following day.

I have halitosis. What can I do?

September 29th, 2016

Halitosis is the fancy, scientific word for “bad breath.” Dr. Richard Mullens and our team know there are several reasons why you may have halitosis; let’s look at a few:

  • Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) – There are five main types of gum disease, and each one can range from mild to severe. For example the most common one is gingivitis; it is caused by bacteria in the plaque that has been allowed to build up, usually as a result of poor oral hygiene. A more serious and uncommon type of gum disease is called necrotizing periodontal disease. It is most common in people who have a suppressed immune system.
  • Smoking
  • Dry Mouth – This can be caused by something as simple as a medication you take.
  • Food – Of course, if you eat something that is potent like garlic, it is going to give you bad breath.
  • Diseases of the Body – Some diseases such as sinus infections and diabetes, among a few other types of infections, can also cause you to have halitosis.

How to Get Rid of Halitosis

The most obvious answer to how to get rid of halitosis is to practice good oral hygiene, although, depending on the cause of halitosis it may not be that simple. If you have an infection that is causing the halitosis then you may need an antibiotic to clear up the infection and then the bad breath will go away. Here are more tips:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal and before bed.
  • Floss your teeth. The more plaque you get out of your teeth, the better chance you have of not getting cavities or bad breath.
  • Address any medical conditions that are not related to your teeth that can be causing the halitosis.
  • Ask Dr. Richard Mullens for a prescription mouthwash that kills bacteria.

Halitosis (bad breath) can be an embarrassing condition to live with, but there are plenty of ways to get rid of it permanently. Start by talking to a member of our team at our Jacksonville, FL office.

How long do dental implants last?

September 22nd, 2016

The average dental implant can last a lifetime if taken care of properly. In fact, studies have shown that the success rate of implants after ten years is about 90%! Of course, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team know that the better you care for your implant, the longer it will last.

There are a few factors that must be taken into consideration, when you are considering dental implants. These factors all play a role in how long your dental implants will last.

  • Bone Structure – You must have enough bone in your mouth for the implants to be inserted. Over time, the bone can wear down and become too thin or to short. In cases, where you may have just enough bone for the implants, over the years, the bone will continue to become smaller and thinner and the implants will not last nearly as long as the suggested minimum of ten years.
  • Healthy Gums – Diseased gums will not support dental implants for very long. It is important to maintain regular dental visits to maintain your healthy gums.
  • Good Oral Hygiene – Just because your implants are not your “real” teeth, doesn’t mean you have to take care of them. That means brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings.

Bone structure, healthy gums, and good oral hygiene all play a crucial role in the length of time your dental implants will last. Whether you have full dental implants, partial implants, or a single tooth implant. The bottom line is you have to take care of them if you want them to last as long as possible.

For more tips on how to maintain the health of your dental implant, visit our Jacksonville, FL office!

When snoring becomes more than just annoying: The dangers of sleep apnea

September 15th, 2016

Sawing wood. That’s what your wife calls it when you wake her up with your snoring. This type of scenario plays out in homes around the world, and couples have to find a way to make light of the nocturnal annoyance. Snoring can become more than just an irritating nighttime disturbance, however. It can be the first sign of a potentially serious sleep disorder.

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing repeatedly pauses throughout the night. Possible symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring loudly and feeling tired after a full night’s sleep.

Three health problems linked to sleep apnea

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed and untreated, which puts you at a greater risk of developing health problems. While being robbed of quality sleep can take its toll on you, sleep apnea can also result in the following.

  1. High blood pressure. When you wake frequently throughout the night, it causes your body's hormonal systems to become unbalanced and go into overdrive. This results in high blood pressure.
  2. Heart disease. The disrupted oxygen flow caused by sleep apnea increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. The cutoff of oxygen makes it difficult for the brain to regulate the flow of blood in the arteries.
  3. Excessive daytime sleepiness. Daytime fatigue often results in impaired judgment and slow reaction times, and this may increase your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Lifestyle changes like losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and quitting smoking are often enough to cure sleep apnea. Medical treatment is also a potential solution. Surgery, oral appliances, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which is a treatment involving a specialized breathing mask, are all possible ways to resolve the problem of sleep apnea.

If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, or to schedule a visit with Dr. Richard Mullens at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office, please give us a call! Our entire team at our office look forward to giving you back a full night’s rest!

Does getting a dental implant hurt?

September 8th, 2016

Getting a dental implant is a surgical procedure and everyone’s pain tolerance level is different. Therefore, what one person may perceive as pain is only a slight discomfort for another person. The general consensus about pain and dental implants is that the majority of people feel discomfort, not pain.

A dental implant is a complex procedure. Let’s take a look at what may cause discomfort:

  • Some people may find that having the IV put in is uncomfortable, especially if the healthcare worker has to try more than once. If you have a fear of needles or if you have anxiety about the procedure, we can prescribe a sedative, which you take before you arrive.
  • Of course, during the dental implant surgery, you will be asleep. Therefore, you will not feel any pain or discomfort at all.
  • When you awake from the surgery, your mouth should still be numb. In many cases, we can give you a “block” – it is basically a 24-hour pain medication, so you will not feel any pain or discomfort at all.
  • We will also provide you with a prescription for a strong pain killer, and you will most likely sleep while you are taking them. If you are still in pain, do not take more than is prescribed without calling us first. You will need someone to stay with you for 24 hours after the surgery, and they will be instructed on how to give you any prescription medication. The anesthesia tends to make people a bit loopy and forgetful the first 24 hours.
  • After the first 24 hours you may feel some discomfort. The most important thing you can do is take your pain medication regularly, whether you are taking the prescription medication or an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil.
  • You should not need pain medication for more than the first few days.

Most people do say there mouth is sore and they have to be careful what they eat, so it’s best to stick to soft foods. If you have any additional questions, please contact our Jacksonville, FL office and speak with Dr. Richard Mullens.

Some Benefits to Giving Your Smile an Extra Boost

September 1st, 2016

For many individuals, autumn brings with it a number of new beginnings. Fall is the time that many people return to school, get back to the daily grind after an enjoyable summer, and even get married. As the weather cools down, it’s easier to enjoy the outdoors. And regardless of what fall-related events are on your calendar, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office know you’ll want to look your best.

One of the very first things that people will notice about you is your smile. And if yours has become less dazzling over the years — as teeth tend to do — you know how disappointing it is not to have the beautiful, pearly white look you’re used to.

Benefits to Teeth Whitening

For school-bound students and autumn brides, fall calendars are certainly filled. School and weddings call for large financial investments, loads of social interaction, and a large amount of personal dedication. So the last thing any bride or student wants to think about is a less-than radiant smile.

For many, there is a lack of confidence associated with their smile and investing in teeth-whitening techniques can be an effective solution. Studies suggest that not only can you experience a boost in your level of confidence, but also you may find that other advantages quickly fall into place.

A confident smile can affect:

  • Personal and work-related relationships
  • Job interviews and meetings
  • Success when dealing with customers and potential clients
  • Your personality and general happiness with your age
  • Overall outlook on daily interactions

A Real Effect on Daily Living

All of these benefits can relate directly to how you see yourself. When you are insecure with something as prominent as your smile, it can affect the way that you handle your life, everything from social gatherings to professional situations.

Now is the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate your smile. With the right teeth-whitening product and regular hygienic practices, walking down the aisle or starting the new semester with the utmost confidence has never been easier.

What is a water pick and do I need one?

August 25th, 2016

Water picks, sometimes called “oral irrigators,” make an excellent addition to your regular home care regimen of brushing and flossing. Especially helpful to those who suffer from periodontal disease and those patients of ours undergoing orthodontic treatment with full-bracketed braces, water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to dislodge food scraps, bacteria, and other debris nestled in the crevices of your mouth. Children undergoing orthodontic treatment may find using a water pick is beneficial if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on their wires or brackets.

When you use a water pick, you’re not only dislodging any particles or debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing, you are also gently massaging the gums, which helps promote blood flow in the gums and keeps them healthy. While water picks are an excellent addition to your daily fight against gingivitis and other periodontal diseases, they are incapable of fully removing plaque, which is why Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office want to remind you to keep brushing and flossing every day.

If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, water picks are a good alternative to reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water picks to flossing because they don't cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem with floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other dental restoration, you may find that a water pick helps you keep the area around the restorations clean.

So how do you choose the right water pick?

Water picks are available for home or portable use. The home versions tend to be larger and use standard electrical outlets, while portable models use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in the same manner, both using pulsating water streams. A more crucial difference between water picks is the ability to adjust the pressure. Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings, depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable models have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a dental rinse in your water pick, check the label first; some models suggest using water only.

Please give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office if you have any questions about water picks, or ask Dr. Richard Mullens during your next visit!

How do I handle my child’s dental emergency?

August 18th, 2016

With children undergoing developmental dental changes and engaging in rough-and-tumble activities, dental emergencies can sometimes arise. If your child knocks out a tooth or experiences any type of oral discomfort, call our office right away so we can provide you with a quick assessment and pain-free treatment.

Before an emergency occurs, it’s a good idea to stay informed about the problems your child may encounter. Here are a few things you should keep in mind about teething pain, loose baby teeth, and other common dental issues.

Teething Pain

Typically occurring in babies that are between four months and two and a half years old, teething may cause excessive drooling, tender gums, and some irritability. Giving your baby a cold teething ring or gently rubbing her gums with wet gauze or your finger may also make her feel better.

Loose Baby Tooth

It is normal for a child’s first set of teeth to become loose and fall out. On the other hand, if your child’s baby tooth is knocked loose, schedule an appointment with our office so we can assess whether any damage has been done.

Issues with Permanent Teeth

Sometimes a child’s permanent teeth will grow in before the baby teeth have fallen out. Even if this condition isn’t causing any discomfort, you should schedule an appointment with our office so we can determine whether your child’s permanent teeth are growing in correctly.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums can result from a number of factors, including periodontal disease, rough brushing, or an injury to the gum tissue. If your child’s gums are bleeding heavily, call our office right away so we can address the situation. If you have time before your appointment, wash your child’s mouth with salted water and gently put pressure on the affected area.

Regardless of the type of dental issue your child has, you can always consult Dr. Richard Mullens for further guidance. We make sure our emergency services are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, so you have ready access to convenient and professional dental care that will have your child feeling better in no time.

I drink a lot of coffee. Could it be hurting my smile?

August 11th, 2016

At our office, we know most of our patients enjoy a cup of coffee or two throughout the day. But what many of you don’t know is that coffee can be especially tough on your teeth because tannic acid (the substance that makes the dark color) etches into the pits and grooves of tooth enamel, staining your pearly whites and being generally detrimental to your smile.

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, with more than 50 percent of people drinking a cup daily. Other foods and drinks such as wine, chocolate-flavored beverages, and soft drinks can all cause tooth enamel discolorations. A hot cup of Joe, however, goes one step farther: extreme temperature changes in your mouth can cause teeth to expand and contract. This allows stains to penetrate deep into the micro-cracks of your tooth enamel.

Additionally, caffeine is considered a diuretic, which means it causes the body to lose fluids. So when you enjoy coffee or any kind of caffeinated beverage, it slows the production of saliva and causes dry mouth, which can potentially lead to bad breath and even tooth decay.

If you just can't make it through the day without a cup of java, we encourage you to consider these tips to help make sure your teeth stay in tip-top shape:

    • Drink a glass of water with your coffee or rinse with a glass of water after every cup. Not only does it help neutralize and rinse away the acid left behind from the coffee, but it also helps replenish fluids drawn out of your body by caffeine.
    • Chew gum after you drink coffee. Chewing gum will help keep your saliva production up and prevent dry mouth.
    • Enjoy your beverage with a straw so that tannins don’t make contact with your front upper and lower teeth.
    • Switch to decaf. Each cup of regular coffee you drink has an average of 110 milligrams of caffeine. Decaf has the same great taste with only two to 12 milligrams of caffeine.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team also invite you to visit our convenient Jacksonville, FL office for whitening options. We can help bleach your teeth with proven and professional products. To learn more about whitening options available at our office, please give us a call!

The Link Between HPV and Oral Cancer

August 4th, 2016

Cancer has become a common word, and it seems like there is new research about it every day. We know antioxidants are important. We know some cancers are more treatable than others. We know some lifestyles and habits contribute to our cancer risk.

Smoking increases our risk of cancer, as does walking through a radioactive power plant. But there is a direct link to oral cancer that you many may not know about—the link between HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and oral cancer.

This may come as a shock because it has been almost a taboo subject for some time. A person with HPV is at an extremely high risk of developing oral cancer. In fact, smoking is now second to HPV in causing oral cancer!

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, “The human papilloma virus, particularly version 16, has now been shown to be sexually transmitted between partners, and is conclusively implicated in the increasing incidence of young non-smoking oral cancer patients. This is the same virus that is the causative agent, along with other versions of the virus, in more than 90% of all cervical cancers. It is the foundation's belief, based on recent revelations in peer reviewed published data in the last few years, that in people under the age of 50, HPV16 may even be replacing tobacco as the primary causative agent in the initiation of the disease process.” [http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/]

There is a test and a vaccine for HPV; please discuss it with your physician.

There are some devices that help detect oral cancer in its earliest forms. We all know that the survival rate for someone with cancer depends greatly on what stage the cancer is diagnosed. Talk to Dr. Richard Mullens if you have any concerns.

Please be aware and remember that when it comes to your own health, knowledge is power. When you have the knowledge to make an informed decision, you can make positive changes in your life. The mouth is an entry point for your body. Care for your mouth and it will care for you!

Three Must-Have Dental Treatments

July 28th, 2016

In dentistry, there are a wide variety of treatments, everything from elective procedures to those that are necessary and potentially lifesaving. So given the slew of treatment options, how do you choose what’s right for you? Our experts at our office have handpicked the three must-have procedures that we believe can benefit nearly every patient.

The first: A complete periodontal exam. If you are going to the dentist for scheduled cleanings, this exam should happen at least once a year. A periodontal exam is quick and relatively painless. The dentist or hygienist will carefully probe around each tooth to take measurements that show the health of the bone and its supporting tissue, all while looking for signs of any active infection. It has been suggested that there is a link between periodontal (gum) disease and the increased risk of some potentially fatal diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Signs of some diseases show up in the mouth sometimes before the patient is aware of changes in the body. Diabetes is one of these silent diseases. Many Americans are unaware that they have the disease until sudden and severe changes in the periodontal health of the teeth lead to a trip to the patient’s physician. And did you know that more adults lose teeth to periodontal disease than to cavities? A simple screening once a year can lead to saving your teeth.

The second treatment our team at our office recommends is a dental sealant; it’s not just for kids! Dental sealants provide a protective barrier from bacteria deep in the pits and grooves of the teeth where cavities often start. Sealants placed in childhood will often wear away in adulthood. Replacing a sealant as an adult can also help prevent decay in adulthood. This is a great cost-effective procedure for adults. Dental insurance will likely not cover sealants as an adult, but the cost of a sealant for prevention versus the cost of a filling is much less.

Our third must-have dental treatment is often the most fun: in-office whitening. Who doesn’t want an instantly dazzling smile? In-office whitening is one of the most dramatic and quick ways to brighten a smile. It will take a few years off your age in a two-hour period of time. Whitening is very safe and can give a patient newfound confidence to smile.

How do I avoid bad breath?

July 21st, 2016

At our office, we see a lot of patients who are concerned about their bad breath, also known as halitosis. So today we thought we would educate our patients about what you can do to keep your pearly whites clean and your breath minty fresh!

Naturally, good oral hygiene on your part is the first step. With proper brushing and flossing you can keep halitosis in check. Even though you may have done an excellent job of brushing and flossing your teeth, if you fail to brush your tongue, you may still have bad breath. Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in your mouth. Certain foods, medications, smoking, sinus issues, or even gum disease can cause bad breath.

Besides proper brushing and flossing, bad breath can be prevented if you:

Stop smoking/chewing tobacco-based products: Ask Dr. Richard Mullens and our team for tips on kicking the habit.

Keep your mouth hydrated: Because a dry mouth typically leads to bad breath, drinking water or eating oranges or celery may help.

Visit our Jacksonville, FL office for regular dental checkups: By visiting our office at least twice a year, you will keep bad breath at bay. Dr. Richard Mullens will conduct an oral exam and will be able detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be the cause of bad mouth odor.

I don't brush while I'm at work. Should I?

July 14th, 2016

Yes, absolutely. A recent survey by Oral-B® reveals that despite knowing that a healthy, good-looking smile affects not only their personal wellness but their professional image as well, very few people (only 14 percent) brush and floss at the office regularly. What’s more, three quarters of people who responded to the survey said they ate twice or more a day at work.

Today, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team thought we would provide some tips for brushing at work.

  • Leave a toothbrush at work to increase your likelihood of brushing
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner; this helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line. Tooth decay-causing bacteria still linger between teeth where your toothbrush bristles can’t reach.

And remember to brush for 30 to 45 seconds across visible parts of the teeth. Brushing after breakfast or lunch will eliminate any remaining food particles and odors. We recommend people brush their teeth twice and floss once a day to remove plaque and other harmful bacteria.

To schedule your next appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens at our Jacksonville, FL office, please give us a call!

Teeth Whitening For a Bright Summer

July 7th, 2016

Summer brings sunshine and warm weather, and many of our patients begin thinking about brightening their smiles this time of year. A whiter smile is one just one visit away at our office!

Teeth whitening is safe, quick, and inexpensive. It can be used to correct many tooth discolorations which may have been caused by staining, aging, or chemical damage to teeth. Using the latest in whitening technology, we can offer a safe method for creating the beautiful smile you've always wanted. Just let us know at any appointment if you would like a brighter smile.

Get your beautiful smile today! Give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment!

Don’t procrastinate about dental work!

June 30th, 2016

When you have dental issues or just need routine care, you may try to put off making an appointment at our office. Common reasons for procrastination are not having the time or fear of pain. Avoiding Dr. Richard Mullens is not a good idea, though. Putting off dental care can turn small problems into large ones. Short appointments turn into long ones with significantly more work and expense.

What happens when you wait?

The small cavity that could have been filled easily has turned into a large cavity. The larger the cavity, the more work required to fill it. However, this is only a minor problem compared to more advanced issues. The minor toothache you are trying to ignore could be a small fracture or an abscess. Small fractures can sometimes be repaired, but if you wait and the fracture increases, you may need to get a crown.

An abscess can be treated in the early stages. Ignoring an abscessed tooth may lead to root damage and the need for a root canal. Infection can spread to other teeth, which multiplies the damage. These treatments will require more of your time than you would have spent taking care of the problem early.

Perhaps you are just putting off a routine cleaning. Even if you brush, rinse, and floss the way you are supposed to, you need a professional cleaning at our office. Plaque that is left behind hardens into calculus or tartar that you cannot remove by yourself. A build-up of calculus can also lead to gum disease.

Unfortunately, avoiding appointments due to a lack of time may mean that you have to give up substantially more time later on. You also can experience needless pain from tooth problems. It’s always best to visit Dr. Richard Mullens for regularly scheduled cleanings and exams to ensure your smile stays healthy and beautiful.

Are dental implants painful? What You Need to Know

June 23rd, 2016

Whether it is the result of tooth decay, gum disease, or injury, millions of people suffer tooth loss. Dental implants provide a strong replacement tooth root for fixed replacement teeth that are designed to match your natural teeth. Of course, there is one question all patients have about dental implants: are they painful?

Dental implant placement is performed under local or general anesthesia and is not considered a painful procedure. However, if the surgery is more complicated and involves bone or tissue grafts, there may be slightly more discomfort and swelling. At the same time, every patient has a different threshold for pain, so what may bother one person may not bother another. If you experience any pain from dental implants, there are several things can do to relive it.

Relieving Pain from Dental Implants

1. The initial healing phase can last up to seven to ten days. Over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Motrin work well to alleviate any pain or discomfort you may experience. However, only take these if instructed to by Dr. Richard Mullens.

2. Once you leave our Jacksonville, FL office, you can reduce inflammation and any swelling to your cheek or lip by holding an ice-pack on your face over the implant area.

3. Your gum will be tender for the first few days. We often recommended that you bathe your gums with warm salt water.

4. Steer clear of crusty or hard foods for the first day or two. Ice cream, yogurt, and other soft foods are ideal as your gums will be tender.

5. Dental implants are a relatively straightforward oral procedure. Many people take time off from work to have dental implant surgery, and then return to regular activities. However, if you are feeling any pain or discomfort, there is nothing wrong with taking the day off, relaxing, and putting your feet up.

There is typically no severe post-operative pain with dental implants. When most people return for a follow-up appointment about two weeks later, they often say that getting a dental implant was one of the least painful procedures they’ve experienced.

My child has autism. What should we expect at your office?

June 16th, 2016

At our office, we know that as many as one in 88 children today have some form of autism, a complex brain disorder that affects a child's ability to communicate or form relationships, and makes a child appear distant, aloof, or detached from other people or surroundings. Autism varies widely in symptoms and severity, and some people have coexisting conditions such as intellectual disability or even epilepsy.

That is why Dr. Richard Mullens and our team are specially trained to provide dental care to the entire special needs community, including autistic children. We know that a visit to the dentist with an autistic child can be difficult. In addition to the common fears associated with strangers, there are also unfamiliar sounds, sensations, bright lights, and tastes with which your child may not be comfortable. We work with parents to make sure visiting the dentist is not so traumatic for our autistic patients.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team also know that patients with autism may be more interested in equipment and instruments than in us. We show our patients every piece of equipment we are going to use in a way that they can understand. We also allow a patient to sit in a parent's lap in the open bay if he or she is not feeling at ease. We want your child to enjoy getting to know us and to be comfortable while under our care.

A pleasant, comfortable visit at our Jacksonville, FL office builds trust and helps put your child at ease for future appointments. Before a visit, we ask parents or guardians to bring their child's favorite toy, comfort item, music, or other coping device their child requires. We have a caring and compassionate team and know how to help autistic children acclimate themselves to a dental environment. We may not get everything done at the first visit, but we are able to schedule several appointments so that your child can get used to our office, the dentist, instruments, and our staff.

Children, especially those afflicted with autism, are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our team at our office genuinely cares for our patients beyond their teeth, and are more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have, as well as answer questions about your child's ongoing dental treatment. Please give us a call to learn more or schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens.

Easing the Teething Blues

June 9th, 2016

Every moment of your baby’s first year of life is precious, since every day your child grows a little, develops new skills, and discovers new things. Most of it is wonderful, but parents don’t like to see their babies in pain. That’s why teething can be such a hard experience. However, you can take steps to make it easier for you and your baby.

What to Expect

Most babies begin teething around the age of six months, when the lower central incisors start to appear. Shortly after this time, the upper central incisors poke through, followed by the lateral incisors, first molars, canines, and second molars. Unfortunately, you’ll probably know that your baby is teething not because you see these teeth come in, but because your baby will be in discomfort. These are some of the signs to watch for when you’re expecting your baby to begin teething.

  • Tender and sore gums
  • More drooling than before
  • Being crankier than usual
  • Chewing on hard objects

What You Can Do

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to make your child more comfortable. These are some approaches that Dr. Richard Mullens and our team recommend:

  • Take a clean moistened wash cloth or use your own washed finger to rub your baby’s gums and provide relief due to the pressure.
  • Provide a firm rubber teething ring for your baby to use, but don't use the type that is filled with liquid.
  • Use a bottle. A bottle filled with cold water can be soothing. Don’t give your baby formula, milk, or juice constantly because the sugar can cause tooth decay.
  • Medications can help for extreme crankiness. Infant Tylenol is an example, but it’s best to check with your pediatrician before giving your baby medications.

You might also want to take special care to dry the drool. It’s not just to keep yourself and your baby dry. Keeping your baby’s skin dry can help prevent irritation.

When to Visit Us

Once your child’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start thinking your baby’s first trip to our Jacksonville, FL office. The American Dental Association suggests that you bring your child to the dentist within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, or at about one year of age. Dr. Richard Mullens can do a quick check for tooth decay, and we’ll make sure you know how to take care of your child’s new teeth.

Summer Break: An ideal time for wisdom teeth removal

June 2nd, 2016

After your son or daughter departs for college, the last thing you want to get is a call or text to learn he or she is in pain. Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office will tell you there aren’t many emergency situations that can be avoided when it comes to dental health, but one crisis that can easily be prevented before your teen heads hundreds of miles away for college is wisdom tooth extraction.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt in the late teen years to early 20s. Spacing and crowding problems often cause impaction and infections, which is why many people elect to have their wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom teeth can go from barely noticeable to extremely painful in a very short period of time.

When your teen’s wisdom teeth erupt, they may cause overcrowding of his or her teeth, which can have a negative effect on their alignment. Most people’s mouths do not have enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt fully and remain perfectly aligned. Thus, pain, swelling, infection, damage to adjacent teeth, and decay are often the most common problems associated with wisdom teeth. These problems can brew beneath the surface for weeks or months, offering no warning before painful symptoms hit.

If your child does elect to go through wisdom tooth extraction, we want to inform you that the first few days of recovery consist of careful measures to control bleeding and swelling, an adherence to a special soft diet, as well as a medication routine that must be followed as recommended by Dr. Richard Mullens after surgery.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team are dedicated to providing exceptional service before, during, and after your wisdom tooth procedure, so you can have peace of mind knowing that your child’s oral health is in good hands. We will do everything we can to minimize discomfort and help your child heal safely and quickly.

Summer break is the perfect time to remove wisdom teeth so that your child can avoid the stressful scenario of experiencing this medical emergency far away from home. If you have any questions on wisdom teeth removal or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Richard Mullens, give us a call today!

Osteoporosis and Oral Health

May 26th, 2016

Today, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office thought we would examine the relationship between osteoporosis and oral health, since 40 million Americans have osteoporosis or are at high risk. Osteoporosis entails less density in bones, so they become easier to fracture. Research suggests a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw, which supports and anchors the teeth. Tooth loss affects one third of adults 65 and older.

Bone density and dental concerns

  • Women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those without it.
  • Low bone density results in other dental issues.
  • Osteoporosis is linked to less positive outcomes from oral surgery.

Ill-fitting dentures in post-menopausal women

Studies indicate that women over 50 with osteoporosis need new dentures up to three times more often than women who don’t have the disease. It can be so severe that it becomes impossible to fit dentures correctly, leading to nutritive losses.

Role of dental X-rays in osteoporosis

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) released research that suggest dental X-rays may be used as a screening tool for osteoporosis. Researchers found that dental X-rays could separate people with osteoporosis from those with normal bone density. As dental professionals, our team at our office are in a unique position to screen people and refer them to the appropriate doctor for specialized care.

Effects of osteoporosis medications on oral health

A recent study showed that a rare disease, osteonecrosis, is caused by biophosphenates, a drug taken by people for treatment of osteoporosis. In most cases, the cause was linked to those who take IV biophosphenates for treatment of cancer, but in six percent of cases, the cause was oral biophosphenates. If you are taking a biophosphenate drug, let Dr. Richard Mullens know.

Symptoms of osteonecrosis

Some symptoms you may see are pain, swelling, or infection of the gums or jaw. Additionally, injured or recently treated gums may not heal: teeth will be loose, jaws may feel heavy and numb, or there may be exposed bone. Some of the steps you can take for healthy bones are to eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, regular physical exercise with weight-bearing activities, no smoking and limited use of alcohol, and report problems with teeth to our office, such as teeth that are loose, receding gums or detached gums, and dentures that don’t fit properly.

For more information about the connection between osteoporosis and oral health, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

The History and Mythology of the Tooth Fairy

May 19th, 2016

While the last baby teeth generally aren’t lost until age ten or 11, most children stop believing in the tooth fairy by the time they're seven or eight. Of course, children are more than happy to play along with the game when there’s money at stake! While it is impossible to know what the tooth fairy does with all those teeth (are they labeled and stored like museum pieces in a giant fairytale castle?), it is possible to trace the history and myth of the tooth fairy to several cultures and traditions. Dr. Richard Mullens and our team learned about some interesting myths about the tooth fairy!

The Middle Ages

Legend has it that Europeans in the Middle Ages believed a witch could curse someone by using their teeth, so it was important to dispose of baby teeth correctly. Teeth were swallowed, buried, or burned. Sometimes baby teeth were even left for rodents to eat. Despite being pests, rodents were valued for their strong teeth; it was generally believed a tooth fed to a rodent would lead to the development of a healthy and strong adult tooth.

Eighteenth Century France

The tooth fairy myth began to show more characteristics of a conventional fairytale in 18th century France. La Bonne Petite Souris, a bedtime story, tells the strange tale of a fairy that changes into a mouse to help a good queen defeat an evil king. The mouse secretly hides under the evil king’s pillow and defeats him by knocking out his teeth.

Scandinavian Lore

So, why does the tooth fairy leave money under the pillow? The idea of exchanging a tooth for coins originated in Scandinavia. Vikings paid children for a lost tooth. Teeth were worn on necklaces as good luck charms in battle. While the idea of exchanging a tooth for coins quickly spread throughout the rest of Europe, a fierce, horn-helmeted Viking is far cry from the image of a fairy collecting teeth.

While the tooth fairy as children know her today didn’t make an appearance until the 1900s, tooth myths and rites of passage have existed in numerous cultures since the dawn of time.

Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic

May 18th, 2016

Dr. Mullens and his staff were very proud to participate in the Florida Mission of Mercy. The event took place on April 22 and 23 at the Jacksonville Prime Osborn Convention Center.

The Florida Mission of Mercy was a free temporary dental clinic that provided dental treatment to thousands of patients during the two-day event. The clinic was available to anyone in need of dental treatment such as cleanings, extractions, fillings, and even dentures.

Setting up for the event started on Thursday, April 21—the day before the event started. It was quite a transformation as they brought in dental chairs, X-Ray machines, supplies, and other dental equipment to turn the Convention Center into a full working dental clinic.

Each patient had to get screened by getting X-Rays and an oral exam to see if they would be a good candidate for treatment. Some patients were pre-screened on Thursday afternoon, however. On Friday morning, the first round of patients being treated started at 6:00am and patients where seen all day Friday and Saturday—with the last patient of the event leaving around 6:30pm.

The event gave our staff a wonderful opportunity to give back to the great community of Jacksonville! We met amazing people who traveled several hours to attend the free clinic and others who stayed overnight outside the Convention Center just to receive treatment! The event was a huge success and served nearly 3,000 patients. We are already looking forward to next year’s event which will take place in Pensacola in spring of 2017!

If you are interested in learning more about the Mission of Mercy, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Periodontal disease; I have what?!

May 12th, 2016

Our team from our office understands the diagnosis of periodontal disease can be scary and confusing, but the good news in most cases is that it is treatable and manageable with a little work on the part of the patient.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum tissue, bone, and supporting structures for the teeth. In the past it was known as pyorrhea. Diagnosis is commonly made through a combination of dental X-rays, periodontal readings (called probe depths), and visual clinical findings.

The mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body and can provide clues to the patient’s overall health. In fact, the first signs of some chronic diseases appear in the oral cavity; they can be a hint for the dentist to refer the patient to a medical doctor for a thorough exam.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to premature tooth loss, sensitivity, and chronic or acute mouth pain. If you have diabetes, you are more prone to periodontal disease and can experience greater difficulty controlling your blood glucose levels. The body ends up spending so much energy fighting the infection in the mouth that it cannot achieve balance elsewhere. Studies have shown that once periodontal disease is treated, the glucose levels become more responsive to control as well.

Standard treatments can include scale and root planing, medicated mouth rinse, and in some cases antibiotic therapy or laser therapy to help control bacteria while promoting healing. Periodontal disease can range from a few localized pockets to extensive and severe infection that may require surgery.

The process of scale and root planing may entail two to four appointments for treatment, with follow-up maintenance exams every three to four months to help prevent the spread of disease. In most cases you will be numbed for comfort during the procedure. After treatment you may feel a little sore—but you are taking steps to improve your health!

Scheduling an appointment with the Jacksonville, FL office of Dr. Richard Mullens will give you an accurate diagnosis and a range of treatment options. Periodontal disease is “silent,” which means you will not always experience pain as a signal of infection. When caught early and subjected to proper oral hygiene care on a daily basis, treatments are usually successful.

Love your new smile? Tell us about it!

May 5th, 2016

At our office, we have been creating beautiful smiles for years. Whether you have visited Dr. Richard Mullens and our team for a week or for your entire life, we would love to hear your thoughts about your experience! In fact, we encourage you to leave a few words for us below or on our Facebook page!

We look forward to reading your feedback!

What are dental crowns?

April 28th, 2016

A dental crown is often called a “cap.” A dental crown covers all of the visible parts of the tooth and has many functions and reasons for placement.

There are several different types of crowns available at our office. They vary in their material, appearance, and functionality. A PFM, or porcelain fused to high-noble metal, is the most common. A full cast, high noble metal crown is a gold crown, and a stainless-steel crown is meant to be temporary. The most natural-looking crown is one that is all porcelain. These are often used for front teeth.

Getting a crown typically requires two appointments. The first is a preparation with impressions, shaping, and placing a temporary. The impressions are either sent to a dental lab, where the process generally takes two weeks, or done in-office with a machine that can make a crown without needing a second appointment. These crowns are made from a high-quality solid block of porcelain. The shape of the tooth is constructed from a digital 3D image of your tooth.

To accurately determine which type of crown is best, you must first know why you need the crown and in what area of your mouth is it needed, which can be answered when you visit us at our office. For instance, if you have a gold crown on the lower right and need a new crown directly above on the upper right, the best durability and long-lasting relationship is another gold crown.

If you need a crown on a front tooth, a gold crown may not be the best choice. A PFM has strength but is not ideal, as a dark line will appear at the gum line. A full porcelain crown is going to look as close to a natural tooth as possible, but will have less strength than a gold crown.

There are two types of porcelain crowns, depending on how they are made. A dental lab makes a full porcelain crown by baking layer upon layer to make the porcelain look like natural enamel. A full porcelain crown made in-office out of a solid piece of porcelain will have increased strength. However, the natural layered appearance is extremely difficult to achieve.

A crown is placed on a tooth when added strength is needed. Cracks, large broken-down fillings, or previous root canal treatment are all conditions where a crown is the standard care. The type of crown that is most appropriate depends greatly on location.

When do children usually lose their baby teeth?

April 21st, 2016

Many parents worry that their children’s teeth are not falling out on time. A lot of concerned parents want to know: When will my child lose his or her first baby tooth? At what age should the last tooth fall out? Is there a specific order in which the teeth are lost?

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team explain that a child's 20 baby teeth (primary teeth) typically come in by age three and begin to loosen and fall out on their own to make room for permanent teeth, which usually appear by the time your child is six. It is important to know that timing may vary, and girls typically lose their baby teeth earlier than boys. The last baby teeth will likely fall out by the time your child is 13.

So, which teeth do children lose first? Baby teeth tend to fall out in the order in which they came, which means the lower center incisors are usually the first to go when your child is between six and seven years old. The next teeth your child will lose are his or her top center pair, also called the upper central incisors.

It’s important to note that if a child loses a baby tooth early as a result of decay or an unforeseen accident, his or her permanent tooth may erupt early and potentially come in crooked due to limited space. If your child suffers an injury or has tooth decay, we encourage you to give us a call to set up an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens.

While we know some children couldn’t be more excited to lose their baby teeth, we know others are anxious about this childhood milestone. When your child starts to lose teeth, our team at our office encourages you to stress the importance of proper dental care on a daily basis.

Remember to:

  • Remind your child to brush his or her teeth at least twice a day. Supervise and offer assistance as needed.
  • Help your child floss his or her teeth at bedtime.
  • Limit eating and drinking between meals and at bedtime, especially sugary treats and drinks, such as candy and soda.
  • Schedule regular dental visits for your child every six months.
  • Ask about the use of fluoride treatments and dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay.

To learn more about baby teeth, or to schedule your child's next visit with Dr. Richard Mullens at our Jacksonville, FL office, please give us a call today!

Proper Brushing Techniques

April 14th, 2016

Brushing your teeth properly removes the food particles and bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. However, you do not want to scrub your teeth or gums heavily. A heavy hand can lead to tooth and gum erosion, as Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff see all too often.

You should also use a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid damaging the surface of your teeth. Make sure the head of the brush fits in your mouth, because if it is too large you will not be able to reach all tooth surfaces. Follow these steps to ensure you are brushing properly.

  1. Use a small amount of toothpaste on your brush. The recommendation is a pea-sized amount or thin strip on the bristles.
  2. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the surface of your teeth, angling towards your gums. Use a circular motion on all exterior tooth surfaces, and avoid back-and-forth “scrub” brushing.
  3. Once you have cleaned the outer surfaces, hold the brush vertically and clean the inner teeth surfaces — the side of your teeth that face your tongue. Do not forget the inner surfaces of your front teeth.
  4. Finally, finish by cleaning all the chewing surfaces of your teeth. You need to maintain a gentle touch, but make sure you get into the full depth of your molars. The entire process should take about two minutes.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff recommend changing your toothbrush every three to four months for best results. Do not forget to clean your tongue, which helps remove excess bacteria from your mouth. Special brushes are available just for cleaning your tongue, and they are easy to use.

Proper care of your teeth also requires flossing on a regular basis. Flossing can be performed before or after you brush. Following up with a quality mouthwash will provide you with even more protection. Do not be afraid to ask the our office team for tips on proper brushing and flossing.

Energy Drinks and Dental Health

April 7th, 2016

Are energy drinks bad for your teeth? Many of our patients at our office ask us this question, so here’s the scoop.

Energy drinks have been on the rise, taking up more and more space on grocery store shelves. Drinks such as Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, Monster Assault, Rockstar, and the like promise to jump-start your day, give you more energy, and help you feel more alert. But they also do a lot more than that. Turns out, they do a pretty good job of stripping your teeth of enamel, which is a very bad thing.

Many of these energy drinks are loaded with a lot of citric acid. In addition, they are laden with preservatives (not to mention sugar), not only to enhance flavor, but extend shelf life. While enamel loss, tooth decay, teeth sensitivity, and cavities cannot be blamed entirely on energy drinks (improper oral hygiene at home and lack of professional dental care also play a role), they can wreak havoc on the health of your teeth and gums, especially when consumed in more than moderation. Over time, energy drinks can strip enamel, which is the outer layer that protects your teeth.

What can you do?

Although Dr. Richard Mullens and our team aren't recommending you drink energy drinks at all, if you must drink one occasionally, there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage to your teeth.

  • Drink through a straw.
  • Don’t hold the drink in your mouth before swallowing.
  • Rinse your mouth with water immediately after drinking this kind of beverage. Water helps both to neutralize the acid and to increase the production of saliva.
  • Chew sugar-free gum immediately after, to increase saliva production.
  • Don’t brush your teeth right after drinking an energy drink. Wait at least an hour instead, because the combination of the acid and brushing will further damage tooth enamel.

The best advice is to refrain from drinking energy drinks altogether. One of the best hydrators is water. Water is a natural energy-booster and hydrator, and it doesn’t contain calories.

Give us a call today at our Jacksonville, FL  office if you have any questions or concerns about energy drinks and dental health. We can provide additional tips and a treatment plan to help reduce enamel loss, eliminate tooth sensitivity, and repair cavities and tooth decay as a result of drinking energy drinks.

What are the advantages of dental implants?

March 31st, 2016

Losing a tooth can affect a lot more than just the look of your smile. Missing teeth affect your ability to chew and can also cause problems for your other teeth. It is essential to replace missing teeth in order to maintain oral health as well as your overall well-being. Dental implants are an excellent option to replace your natural tooth and its root without affecting your neighboring teeth, and are available from Dr. Richard Mullens.

Why choose dental implants?

There are many reasons to choose dental implants to replace your lost or damaged teeth. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, dental implants are often considered more predictable than other treatment options and are known to provide long-term successful outcomes.

Dental implants provide many benefits over other treatments such as bridgework and dentures:

  • Unlike other treatment options for missing teeth, dental implants allow Dr. Richard Mullens to replace your tooth without impacting the healthy teeth surrounding the space.
  • Dental implants also protect healthy bone by preventing potential bone loss and deterioration in the jaw.
  • This treatment option allows you to speak and eat normally without worrying about slippery or uncomfortable removable dentures.
  • The closest thing to natural teeth, dental implants allow you to maintain your smile and natural face shape.
  • These implants are built to last, providing you with a long-term solution to missing teeth.

Overall, dental implants are the next best thing to natural, healthy teeth. Choosing to undergo surgery to replace your lost or damaged teeth is an important decision. To avoid the issues caused by lost teeth, consult Dr. Richard Mullens or visit our Jacksonville, FL office to see if you are a candidate for dental implants.

The History of Dental Implants

March 24th, 2016

The earliest endeavors for dental implant tooth substitutes on record dates back to the Mayan civilization, to 600 AD. Archeologists recovered primeval skulls in which the teeth had been replaced with materials the ranged from wood, stones, and jewels to small pieces of seashells.

Like most scientific progresses, the finding of what makes todays dental implants so successful was unexpected. In 1952, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, named Dr. Branemark, placed a very small titanium cylinder into a bone to learn how the bone would heal. What he discovered was that the titanium cylinder had fused (melded to the bone.) Out of this experiment dental implants would be born within two decades.

In 1970s, modern dental implants made their first appearance. Of course, over the past four decades, the original dental implant has undergone several improvements in both structure and design, but has always been based on the original theme.

Dental implants were first made available to individuals who had lost all of their teeth and had difficulty wearing dentures, mainly because they had lost of much of their jawbone were dentures set. Today, most dental implants are used in place of dentures, for multiple teeth that are missing, or to replace a single tooth.

When dental implants were first designed, they were a one size fits all. The original dental implants were all the same circumference, while the length of each tooth varied depending on the type of tooth it was replacing. The dental implants were smoothed out and polished by a machine, but still did not produce the natural looking dental implants we have today.

Now, with the help of state-of-the-art equipment and advanced technology, implants come in a wide variety of sizes and shape to match the teeth that are missing. The surfaces of today’s dental implants give them a more natural look and feel. In addition, the surface of the dental implant also attaches to the bone much easier and for a longer period of time.

Dr. Branemark's discovery has left an impression on dental professionals, all over the world, including Dr. Richard Mullens. If you are considering dental implants to improve your smile’s health, beauty, and function, be sure to contact our Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment.

St. Patrick's Day: Celtic pride, green shamrocks, and lucky charms!

March 17th, 2016

“St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time -- a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.” Adrienne Cook

Lucky green shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold – it must be St. Patrick’s Day! If you’re not Irish, how do you go about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? It’s easy: You just put on one of those tall leprechauns hats, dress in green from head to toe, and wear one of those carefree pins that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish, and that is the universal beauty of the holiday. Celtic pride does not discriminate.

Wondering what our team at our office is doing to celebrate March 17th? Well, we’ve thought about doing everything from handing out lucky gold coins (you know, the fake ones that are made of chocolate) to shamrock stickers. Maybe we’ll even give away green toothbrushes and floss! You’ll never know unless you come in to see Dr. Richard Mullens !

All kidding aside, St. Patrick’s Day is an important cultural and religious holiday. There are lavish parades and church services across Ireland on March 17th. Over time, however, the holiday has developed into a day to observe Irish culture in general. In places like England and the United States, where there is a large Irish Diaspora, the holiday has greater significance than other countries. From the streets of Boston to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, it is a day of celebration, and many Americans of Irish descent will cook up a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage.

So, to all of you with Irish ancestry, and to all of you who have decided to be Irish for the day, our office wishes you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Good luck looking for a pot of leprechaun gold, which is said to exist at the end of the rainbow. However, keep away from those sugary Lucky Charms; sweet cereals might taste good, but your kids’ teeth might not be feeling too lucky if they eat it for breakfast every day. Have a great St. Paddy’s Day!

Dentistry around the World

March 10th, 2016

From the clinical perspective, dentistry is similar around the world. Dentists, like Dr. Richard Mullens, go to school, obtain a license, and work hard to prevent and treat tooth decay, gum disease, oral infections, throat or oral cancer, tooth loss, and other conditions that might limit a person’s ability to smile, bite, chew, or speak. The quality of dental care, however, and the payment method for dental services varies between nations.

Dentistry throughout the World

Developed countries have more dentists per capita than do developing nations, according to the World Health Organization. There is one dentist for every 150,000 people in Africa, for example, as compared to about one dentist for every 2,000 citizens of an industrialized nation. The lack of dentists in developing nations means that dental care is restricted to pain management and emergency care.

Dentistry often reflects the cultural views of a nation. Some cultures acknowledge only the functional aspect of teeth, so dentists focus on preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Other cultures emphasize aesthetic appearances, so dentists there provide cosmetic procedures in addition to essential oral care.

Each nation imposes its own education and licensure requirements for dentists but most require some college before four years of dental school. The graduate must then pass local or national exams to practice in that region. European schools and standards are similar to the United States.

From the business perspective, dentistry varies between nations. In the United States, a dentist presents to the patient one bill that includes all of the treatment costs, such as the dentist, his assistant, tools, and labs. This allows the dentist to charge a single, easy-to-pay fee for individual procedures, and gives him an opportunity to mark up items and make a profit.

Across much of Europe, a dentist presents two bills to her patient – one for the dentist and another for the lab. This approach may stem from a cultural belief that profiting from healthcare is unethical and that healthcare should be available to consumers at actual cost; public dental clinics and subsidies ensures all citizens have access to dental care, regardless of ability to pay. In most cases, the government is both overseer and provider of dental care.

While the role of the dentist is nearly the same in every country – to ensure the oral health of the citizens – dental care is different in each nation. Regardless, you can rest assured that the care you receive at our Jacksonville, FL office is held to the highest standard.

Good Nutrition Leads to Healthy Mouths

March 8th, 2016

At our office, we know the most common oral health diseases are tooth decay and periodontal disease (or gum disease), and both are among the easiest to prevent. One of the most common ways we recommend to boost your oral health is by improving your diet, because you (and your mouth) truly are what you eat. A healthy diet can lead to a healthy mouth and body, while an unhealthy diet can lead to the exact opposite.

The Role Nutrition Plays

While diet is not the only factor that leads to periodontal disease, studies suggest the disease may be more severe among patients whose diets lack essential nutrients. Poor diets will generally lead to a weaker immune system, leaving your body susceptible to all kinds of ailments, including periodontal disease.

A Well-Balanced Approach

There is no “magic” diet that we can recommend to improve your oral health, but the most important thing is to seek a well-balanced approach in your eating. While fad diets that emphasize one food group over another may help you lose weight in the short-term, they probably will not provide all the nutrients your body needs in the long run.

Meals should include a balance of lean meats or other healthy protein sources, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Foods containing substantial amounts of sugar and salt should be consumed in moderation.

Soda and Sugar: A Dangerous Duo

Millions of gallons of soda are consumed every day in America, but sipping a cold soft drink can be very harmful to your teeth. Many of these beverages wear down the enamel that protects the teeth, which weakens and even destroys them over time. The American Beverage Association estimates that soft drinks account for almost 30 percent of all drink consumption in the U.S., averaging an annual total of about 50 gallons per person (up from only 20 gallons in the 1970s). For healthy teeth and a healthy body overall, try to limit your soda intake.

Sugar is another ubiquitous treat in our daily lives. When we eat sugar, naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths convert it to acids that attack tooth enamel. Consuming too much sugar can swiftly lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum diseases like gingivitis. Most people do not even realize how much sugar they consume each day. It’s important to limit your daily sugar intake by reading the labels of all the food you eat, and sticking with natural food sources that are low in sugar, especially ones that minimize added sugar, such as fruits and vegetables.

If you have questions about your diet and how it may be affecting your oral health, talk to Dr. Richard Mullens about it. See you soon!

Regular Cleanings Lead to Healthier Mouths and Bodies

March 8th, 2016

The American Dental Association and dentists everywhere, including our own Dr. Richard Mullens recommend that you schedule an appointment every six months for a cleaning and checkup. Despite this universal recommendation from the experts, some people believe regular cleanings and checkups are unnecessary unless there is something wrong with your teeth—for example, a cavity or a toothache. In fact, coming in for a six-month checkup and cleaning is one of the most important things you can do for your oral health, as well as your overall health.

Why It’s Important to Visit Regularly

Numerous studies have shown that oral health is closely tied to the overall health of your whole body. In fact, having a healthy mouth can help the rest of your body stay in balance. On the other hand, an unhealthy mouth can cause all kinds of problems for you down the road.

One of the most important things we do at our office when you come in for cleanings is remove plaque that has collected on your teeth and around your gums. If left untreated, plaque build-up can cause inflammation and irritation around your gums, and lead to gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontal disease.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, inflammation, osteoporosis, and pregnancy complications.

Most oral health issues will begin with subtle changes before progressing into more serious conditions. If you visit us for regular checkups, we may be able to identify common indicators that could lead to larger issues down the road. If we only see you at our office every few years, it becomes more difficult to catch these conditions before they grow into bigger and more painful problems.

What happens at a dental checkup?

When you come in for your regular checkup, there are several things our dentists and hygienists may do, including:

  • Take X-rays to determine the overall health of your teeth, jaw, bones, and the tissue surrounding your teeth, including a check for early signs of tooth decay, abnormal growths, cavities, and other damage that is not immediately visible
  • Perform a thorough cleaning of your mouth and teeth to remove any excess plaque and tartar, then polish and floss your teeth
  • Check for signs of gum disease or evidence of tooth decay
  • Examine your bite, and look for broken or damaged teeth
  • Identify any changes to your gums or teeth since your last visit
  • Examine your head and neck for signs of oral health problems

Waiting to visit Dr. Richard Mullens until you already have a problem, like a cavity, is like waiting to put gasoline in your car until after you run out and your vehicle is stalled on the side of the road. Once you have a problem, the ripple effect can cause you a lot of pain, take considerably more time, and cost a lot more money to fix than if you had come in for preventive care and cleanings every six months.

References: American Academy of Periodontology (2012). Gum Disease Links to Heart Disease and Stroke. Retrieved from http://www.perio.org/consumer/mbc.heart.htm

Periodontal Disease Associated with Cardiovascular Risk

February 18th, 2016

We all know that brushing your teeth and flossing regularly keeps your smile sparkly and bright, but did you realize that cleaning your teeth can actually help your heart? Recent research suggests that people with periodontal disease also have a higher cardiovascular risk, which means they are more vulnerable to heart attacks or stroke. It’s probably not time to throw away those running shoes in favor of a new toothbrush, but this is an added incentive to maintain good oral hygiene.

Relationship between Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Health

In 2003, researchers from the University of Buffalo conducted analyses which suggested that patients with gum disease were also at elevated risk of cardiovascular problems. Furthermore, people with more severe cases of gum disease have even poorer heart health. Although the exact causes of this relationship remain unknown, scientists continue to explore the impact of oral hygiene on broader health.

One hypothesis is that poor oral hygiene leads to inflammation, which negatively affects the heart. Gum disease occurs when bacteria build up in the mouth, and feed off sugars found in food. These bacteria release compounds that contribute to inflammation and red, swollen gums. The same inflammatory compounds may affect the heart, increasing overall cardiovascular risk.

Protect Your Teeth, Protect Your Heart

Taking a few commonsense measures can go a long way to improving your oral health and your cardiovascular risk. Consider the following:

  • Brush twice daily, and floss at least once per day. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day cleans away the harmful bacteria that contribute to gum disease. Similarly, flossing your teeth ensures that dangerous bacteria that build up between each tooth get swept away. These simple steps are the easiest ways to reduce your risk of periodontal disease.
  • Eat healthy foods. Those sugary snacks that you love so much don’t help your teeth. Whenever possible, stick to a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. For example, grab an apple or a few celery sticks for a mid-afternoon snack, rather than indulging in that candy bar.
  • Drink water. Staying hydrated doesn’t just help your body – it also swishes bad bacteria away from your tooth and gum surface. Drinking plenty of water improves your overall oral health. It’s particularly helpful after eating a sugary or sticky snack, because water can reduce plaque buildup.
  • Visit our office. Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff will monitor your mouth for signs of periodontal disease and can make specific recommendations to keep your mouth – and your heart – safer.

The Transformation of Valentine's Day

February 11th, 2016

Did you know the actions leading to the beginnings of Valentine's Day were actually centered on the avoidance of war? A Catholic priest named Valentine defied the orders of the Emperor Claudius II and secretly married young men and their brides after the emperor had declared it illegal because only single, young men could be sent to war. Rather than lose potential soldiers to fight his war, Claudius attempted to hoard them by proclaiming marriage illegal.

Valentine continued to marry young couples anyway and, eventually, was put to death for it in 270 AD. Before his death, he sent a letter to a secret love and signed it “From your Valentine”. Nearly 1,800 years later, people are still signing letters and cards in this manner. This year, carry on the tradition started long ago, while adding your own twist. Here are a few suggestions.

Simple and Creative Valentine's Day Ideas

  • Memorialize it with a Photo. Couples often have photos taken around Christmas, but Valentine's Day photos allow you to capitalize on romance. Famous couple Julia Child and her husband, Paul, had their picture taken together every Valentine's Day and included their sense of humor with silly props.
  • Return to Your First Date Location. Even if your first date together was at a local hotdog stand, its sentimental value can make it a fun part of your Valentine's Day agenda. Be creative and make a treasure hunt with clues that lead your partner to the original date location, where you can express your love with flowers or a gift.
  • “From Your Valentine” Messages. Deliver your message in a creative way to make this Valentine's Day stand out from the others. Bake your partner's favorite treat and write a message on it with a tube of icing, or draw a note on the steamed up mirror so it shows up when your partner takes a shower.

Although Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love, it doesn't have to be a special day only for couples. If you're single, use this special day to shower yourself with love, because you're worth it! After all, the priest Valentine believed so strongly in the sanctity of love that he was willing to risk his life for it. Whether you're in a relationship or single, young or old, romantic or not, Valentine's Day is for you. Happy Valentine’s Day from the dental office of Dr. Richard Mullens.

Common Emergency Visits: From lost fillings to broken dentures

February 4th, 2016

You never know when you're going to experience a dental emergency, but if you do, it should give you peace of mind to know that emergency dental care is available at our office 24/7. Whether you chip your front tooth playing softball, or your child knocks out a couple of teeth in a playground fall, receiving the emergency dental treatment you need is accessible and convenient.

If you're experiencing a dental emergency, our team at our office is here to help you any time of the day or night. Dental emergencies should not be taken lightly, so don't delay. Contact our office as soon as possible. Common dental emergencies include the following:

Lost Fillings and Crowns

Fillings are used to repair cavities. Crowns, on the other hand, are used to cover broken or damaged teeth. Over time, it’s possible for both of these items to loosen and fall out. A lost filling or crown can be painful, because the exposed tissue may be sensitive. Hot and cold temperatures will cause discomfort. While a lost filling or crown might not be as severe a dental emergency as a broken or chipped tooth (most people respond quicker to pain than self-consciousness about their looks), you need to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Broken Dentures

If your dentures are broken, everyday tasks may become trying and arduous. If you can’t chew, swallow, or eat properly, the situation calls for emergency care. Depending on how damaged your dentures are, Dr. Richard Mullens may need to send out a mold of your mouth in order to have the manufacturer make a new pair. On the other hand, if the dentures are not damaged too badly, then we may be able to fix them in-house. If you're having problems with your dentures, you should give us a call as soon as possible.

From chipped and cracked teeth to lost fillings and broken dentures, dental emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. Emergencies are unexpected, but we want you to know that treatment is available, day or night. When your dental health is at risk, we are here to help. In the case of a dental emergency, don't wait; contact our Jacksonville, FL office at your earliest convenience.

Dr. Mullens' Staff Gets Hands On With CEREC

February 4th, 2016

Last week, three of our awesome Dental Assistants—Kristie, Heather, and Deidra—had the opportunity to attend an educational course at Dental PC Technology Center in Jacksonville. The title of the course was CEREC Anterior Course with Hands on Stain and Glaze. CEREC allows dentists to construct and insert individual ceramic restorations in a single visit!

The class was taught by Dr. Ross Enfinger and featured hands on experience with staining and glazing our own CEREC Emax Crown. We are so excited to be able to bring this knowledge and skill back to the practice and help make our patient care even better!

Our attendees said that their biggest takeaway was how cosmetic dentistry is art and science working seamlessly together. The technology involved allows our practice to offer custom staining which leads to a more natural smile.

If you are interested in learning more about CEREC and if you might benefit from it, give our office a call!

Five Tips for Taking Tots to the Dentist

January 28th, 2016

Toddlers are notoriously balky about strangers. But their first dental visit should not be cause for fear and tears. Nor should you assume that getting your toddler to our office is going to involve a full-blown tantrum or Mafia-style bribery. “Honey, don’t worry. We’ll go get ice cream after…” sort of defeats the purpose of making that first dental appointment.

These five tips will make your toddler’s trip to see Dr. Richard Mullens as fun as a stop at an amusement park.

1. Before you make a dental appointment for your child, take him or her on a ride-along to one of your dental appointments. Let your son or daughter experience the office and get the lay of the land. Toddlers don’t like surprises. But if your little one is already familiar with the big chair that goes up and down, the next time he or she will have no problem taking a seat.

2. About the big dental chair … well, it’s really an amusement park ride. See how it goes up and down? Toddlers love games, and turning the trip to the dentist into a game is among the oldest (and most successful) tricks in the parent playbook.

3. Positive reinforcement is a good thing. That's why Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff hand out cool toothbrushes or stickers to children after their appointment. A fun-colored toothbrush with a suction bottom is a good incentive to come back for another cleaning.

4. Timing is everything. Don’t take your child to the dentist an hour before the daily nap. Make the appointment with your child’s schedule in mind. This increases the chances of success.

5. A few days before the scheduled appointment, start reading your toddler bedtimes stories about what happens at the dentist. Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile, written by Christine Ricci, is a popular dental story that your child might relate to.

How do I care for my dental implant?

January 21st, 2016

Dental implants are designed to be strong and durable, able to withstand the everyday rigors of chewing and biting, but to keep them functioning the way they should and looking their best, you need to care for them properly. Luckily, dental implant care is fairly straightforward; in fact, your implants can be cared for the same way you care for your natural teeth, with regular brushing and flossing performed correctly, as well as regular visits with Dr. Richard Mullens to ensure your implants, the neighboring teeth, and your gums are as healthy as possible.

Before the actual replacement tooth is attached to the implant post, you may want to avoid harshly abrasive toothpastes, such as those with baking soda or those designed to get rid of significant staining. These abrasives may damage the threads of the posts or irritate the gum and soft tissue surrounding the posts, causing inflammation or bleeding.

As the implant heals and “settles in,” a special kind of protective tissue called “keratinized” tissue will form where the implant meet the gum. This natural development in healing helps ensure the implant post and the soft tissue beneath the gum line are protected from bacteria.

As you care for your implants, always look for signs of infection, like swollen, tender, or bleeding gums – just as you would with your normal teeth. If you're nervous about caring for your implants or you feel you may be reluctant to floss around them, ask our team to provide you with care tips and walk you through the process of flossing.

Your implants represent a considerable investment both in time and money, so it's only natural you'd want to be sure you're doing all you can to keep them in top shape. Remember: dental implants are designed to replace your natural teeth, and they're also designed to be cared for in much the same way as you care for your natural teeth. Although you may be a little nervous at first, you'll soon become as used to your new implants as you are to your natural teeth, and caring for them will become second nature.

More questions? Simply as at your next visit to our Jacksonville, FL office!

Quit Smoking to Save Your Smile

January 14th, 2016

You’ve likely heard that smoking increases risk of lung cancer and emphysema. But did you realize that your cigarette habit also has an impact on your smile? Chronic smokers suffer from increased dental problems that make their smiles unsightly. Understanding how smoking affects your oral health may provide the momentum you need to kick the habit for good.

Cosmetic Changes Associated with Smoking

Cigarettes contain more than 600 ingredients that, when lit, create in excess of 4,000 chemicals. Of these chemicals, many are known carcinogens while others have been shown to have serious negative effects on health. The nicotine and tar in tobacco products are absorbed by the enamel of your teeth. The result is yellowed teeth that look unsightly; with heavy smoking, your teeth may eventually turn nearly brown in color.

The chemicals in cigarettes and cigars also cause your teeth to become less clean. Smoking is associated with a build-up of tartar and plaque on the surface of your teeth. Over time, this increases your risk of developing cavities and other oral health problems. Furthermore, pursing your lips while smoking leads to wrinkles around your mouth, which detracts from your smile.

More Serious Dental Conditions

In addition to having unsightly teeth, smoking can cause serious health conditions. Because of the carcinogens in cigarettes, smoking is associated with an increased risk of oral cancer, which can be deadly. Smokers are also more likely to develop gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. You may experience an increased loss of bone within your jaw, which will cause significant problems later in life.

Treatment for Smoking-Related Oral Health Problems

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office will tell you that the best defense against smoking-related oral health problems is to ditch your nicotine habit. By decreasing the amount of nicotine and other chemicals you consume, you can decrease your risk of oral cancer and gum disease. Remember to mention your smoking habit when you’re at our Jacksonville, FL office. We frequently treat smokers and can recommend smoking cessation programs to help you quit. Dr. Richard Mullens can also advise you about whitening treatments and gum disease prevention activities that ensure you’ll have a beautiful smile for years to come.

Five Reasons for Your Bad Breath

January 7th, 2016

Bad breath, or halitosis, is probably not a matter of life or death. But it can make you feel self-conscious and have a negative impact on your life. The majority of people suffering from bad breath are dealing with oral bacterial. However, there are other causes of this embarrassing problem. Learning more can help you fight this solvable problem.

Five Causes of Embarrassingly Bad Breath

  1. Dry Mouth. A decrease in saliva flow can be caused by several things. Most often, medication or mouth breathing are the culprits. As saliva helps wash away food particles from your mouth, it prevents bad breath. Dry mouth can be dealt with by stimulating salivation.
  2. Gum Disease and Poor Oral Hygiene. Not brushing and flossing well enough or with enough frequency can lead to gum disease, which leads to bad breath. Halitosis can be a sign that plaque is present on your teeth.
  3. Food-Related Bad Breath. Food particles that aren't brushed or flossed away attract bacteria that leads to bad breath. It's especially important to brush after eating strong-smelling foods, such as garlic or onions.
  4. Smoking and Tobacco. Tobacco is bad for your health, and that includes your oral health. Smoking or chewing tobacco can contribute toward the development of gum disease, as well as oral cancer.
  5. Mouth Infections and Other Medical Problems. A mouth infection, sinus infection or even the common cold can cause you to temporarily have bad breath. Even conditions such as diabetes and reflux can cause halitosis. It's always wise to see Dr. Richard Mullens to help determine the cause.

We are Your Ally

Even if you maintain good oral hygiene, it's important to see Dr. Richard Mullens at our Jacksonville, FL office to deal with or avoid problems with bad breath. We can help you uncover the cause of halitosis, while also providing solutions that allow you to enjoy fresh breath without relying on mints and breath fresheners. As is the case with all things related to oral health, we are your number-one ally when it comes to eliminating the problem of bad breath.

It's a Wrap: Ending the year with a smile!

January 5th, 2016

People have been ushering in the New Year for centuries but it became an official holiday in 1582 when Pope George XIII declared January 1st to be the day on which everyone would celebrate the New Year. At midnight people would yell, holler, and blow horns to scare away the evil spirits of the previous year so the New Year would be joyous and filled with opportunity. Nearly 500 years later, we still greet the New Year by whooping and hollering, but in a celebratory manner instead. Whether you intend to ring in the New Year quietly at home in the Jacksonville, FL area or have plans to join the countdown at a gala extravaganza, these tips can help you ring out the old and usher in the new with a smile.

Tips for a Happy New Year's Eve Celebration from our office

  • Be Safe. There's no way to predict the behavior of others on New Year's Eve, but you can be responsible for your own behavior to keep yourself safe. If adult beverages will be part of your celebration, plan on spending the night wherever you are or line up a designated driver to bring you home after the party is over.
  • Enjoy Family and Friends. Spending time with the important people in your life is what makes the holidays enjoyable. Coordinate your schedules and choose New Year's Eve activities that everyone in the group will enjoy. You don't have to go to a party to ring in the New Year; some people like to go bowling, see a movie, or have a great meal at home.
  • Accessorize with a Smile. Whether you dress up or have a quiet dinner with family and friends, one of the best accessories you can add to your attire is a beautiful smile.

New Year's Eve is a time to gather with friends and family, reflect on the year that's coming to an end, and look forward to the new one with anticipation. Enjoy this transitional holiday in a way that's safe, healthy, and fun. After all, counting down until the clock strikes 12 marks the beginning of a full year of opportunity ahead of you. From Dr. Richard Mullens, have a great new year!.

I haven’t been to the dentist in years; what should I expect?

January 5th, 2016

Time flies when we are not at the dentist! Before you know it, years may have gone by. Let’s take a moment to explain what takes place when a patient comes back to receive care after an extended period of time.

After a while, small dental concerns or issues can grow into an unexpected journey of discovery and expense. Anxiety is common and expected. Let’s discover first of all, “What brings you here today?” It is a good place to start and once the initial concerns are addressed, a comprehensive plan to restore optimum dental health can be arranged. During the first appointment Dr. Richard Mullens and our team want you to feel comfortable, and establish a confidence allowing you to be open with any questions.

Your visit will take approximately 90 minutes. First, a complete medical and dental history will be recorded and reviewed in one-on-one interview style. This is the time to voice any concern, anxiety issues, worries, etc. Then, X-rays are taken to provide additional information about what is happening beneath the surface of your teeth and gums. Finally, a series of screenings including those for oral cancer, home care evaluation, and periodontal disease are conducted to complete your oral health evaluation.

The hygienist has a great eye for other conditions such as broken fillings, cracked teeth, active decay, and other dental concerns. Then, Dr. Richard Mullens will come in for a comprehensive exam and list and prioritize your dental needs. Our treatment coordinator will present scheduling options, insurance coverage, and payment plans.

Our team will coach you and help you gain control of your own dental destiny with good home care habits. You will receive a bag with a toothbrush, floss, appropriate toothpaste, and any other specialized tools for your needs. You will know how often you need to return for hygiene visits or other dental appointments.

Our patients at our office are our most important asset, and we strive to create a comfortable experience, no matter how long it has been since your last visit at our Jacksonville, FL office. From phone conversations to financial arrangements to clinical treatment, we want you to feel confident that our team will meet your needs.

It's been years since my last appointment; what should I expect?

January 5th, 2016

Feeling apprehensive or guilty for not visiting a dentist in over a year is common, but coming back to receive dental care is easier than you may think. Our dental team at our office provides caring, non-judgmental, personalized service, and knowing this you can truly feel at ease making your first appointment back.

During your first appointment back, we will focus on three prominent dental issues including gum disease, cavities, and wear and tear by utilizing a full mouth series of X-rays, a hygiene appointment, and a comprehensive exam.

The full mouth series of X-rays are taken every three to five years, or as needed. A full mouth series may be a panoramic X-ray and bitewings (a set of four that checks for cavities) or a set of X-rays that views the entire anatomy of every tooth. The set of X-rays will depend on your individual needs.

Your hygiene appointment will begin with a review of your medical history, personal concerns and questions, and an evaluation checking for any infection. After any necessary diagnoses are made, the appropriate level of cleaning is proposed and completed if time allows.

A comprehensive exam serves as a review of what the hygienist has already covered. Dr. Richard Mullens will again review your medical history and dental concerns, and confirm any periodontal diagnosis. An evaluation of any decay, breakdown or broken fillings, or areas that are at risk for future problems will also be reviewed.

After the appointment, a team member at our office will review any recommended treatments, payment options, insurance coverage, and scheduling. The time spent at your first visit back is an important step in the right direction, and we are committed to making this visit as comfortable and easy as possible! Come see us in Jacksonville, FL.

What is gum recession?

January 5th, 2016

Gum (gingival) recession occurs when gums recede from the tops of the teeth enough to expose sensitive roots. People typically experience increased sensitivity to sugary or cold foods when gums no longer cover and protect teeth roots. In addition, untreated gum recession may lead to loosening of teeth and accelerated tooth decay, something Dr. Richard Mullens see all too often.

Causes of Gum Recession

  • Periodontal disease – a serious oral disease arising from poor oral habits
  • Gingivitis – gum disease characterized by bleeding and swollen gums
  • Aging
  • Overly aggressive brushing and/or flossing – brushing hard in a scrubbing fashion will erode gum tissue at the roots of teeth
  • Genetic predisposition to gingival recession – having inherited thin, insufficient gum tissue facilitates gum recession
  • Bruxism – a condition where someone regularly grinds their teeth, usually during sleep
  • Chewing tobacco/smoking – promotes chronically dry mouth and reduced gum health

Periodontal gingivitis may also cause causing drooping of the gums instead of gum recession. A gingivectomy removes excess gum tissue weakened by bacterial decay while a gingivoplasty can reshape gums around the teeth. If sagging or receding gums are left untreated, they may develop pockets (gaps) that provide hiding places for food particles, mucus and other mouth debris conducive to anaerobic bacteria growth. As the most destructive type of oral bacteria, anaerobic bacteria is responsible for tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and chronic halitosis.

Treatments for Gum Recession

Corrective actions need implemented as soon as possible to reverse gum recession by addressing the cause. For example, people who brush with hard-bristled toothbrushes should switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush more gently. If gum recession is the result of poor oral hygiene, improve oral hygiene habits by brushing after meals, flossing, rinsing with non-alcoholic mouthwash, and getting dental checkups and cleanings every six months. For severe cases of gum recession, soft tissue grafts can add gum tissue to exposed roots by removing tissue from the person's palate and attaching it to existing gums at the area of recession via laser surgery.

If you’re worried about gum recession, visit our Jacksonville, FL office and talk to a member of our team.

Happy Holidays from Dr. Mullens and Staff!

December 23rd, 2015

“Wishing our wonderful patient family and friends Happy, Happy Holidays.
Thank you for your patronage and friendship this past year.
We hope each of you has a blessed, fulfilled New Year in 2016.”

Mission of Mercy

December 16th, 2015

As a member of the Florida Dental Association and the Northeast District Dental Association of Florida, this is a proud moment for us in Jacksonville. Our goal will be to provide care for 3,000 needy patients in two days at our Mission of Mercy event, April 22-23, 2016. Our committee is hard at work preparing for what will be the largest Mission of Mercy ever held in the United States. Please consider volunteering (lay people welcome to join us!) or provide financial support. You can learn more about this organization at http://www.floridadental.org/foundation/programs/mission-of-mercy

United Outreach Mission Donation

December 11th, 2015

In honor of our beloved patient family, your RCMDDS Dental Team is proud to once again provide a generous donation to United Community Outreach Mission (UCOM) this Holiday Season, as a response to our gratitude for the confidence of our patients and the blessings we receive in caring for others.  Please consider your own support for UCOM or the charity of your choosing during this precious season.

For more information on United Community Outreach Mission, we encourage you to check out their website: http://www.ucomjax.org

Can my body reject my dental implant?

December 3rd, 2015

According to the International Congress of Oral Implantologists it is rare that your body will reject your dental implants. However, this does not mean that your dental implant will not fail. A successful dental implant is one that is placed in healthy bone and is properly cared for after the surgery takes place.

There is only one major reason why a dental implant would be rejected: a titanium allergy. The majority of dental implants are made with titanium because it has proven to be the most biologically compatible of all metals. On average, less than one percent of potential dental implant recipients reported an allergy to titanium.

Dental Implant Failure

The most common cause of dental implant failure in the upper and lower jaw is bacteria. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. If you have bacteria in your jawbone at the time of your dental implant, it can spread from implant to implant, causing dental implant failure.

If you do not take proper care of your dental implants, that could also cause them to fail. You also have to take proper care of the implant and keep your mouth clean. The development of excessive bacteria around the implant and in surrounding tissues can lead to implant failure.

Teeth grinding is another reason dental implants fail. When you grind your teeth, it can move the implants out of position. Therefore, you should wear a mouthpiece when you go to sleep if you know you grind or clench.

If you take care of your implants by practicing good oral hygiene and visit our Jacksonville, FL office, you should not have any problems with your new dental implants. As always, ask Dr. Richard Mullens about any questions or concerns you have about you dental implants.

Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2015

At our office, we love to celebrate the holidays with vigor! Dr. Richard Mullens would love to share some unique ways of celebrating Thanksgiving from beyond the Jacksonville, FL area to the national level!

When Americans sit down to dinner on the last Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the day on which Thanksgiving would be celebrated, they do so thinking that the first Thanksgiving feast was held at Plymouth in 1621. According to National Geographic, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez Coronado and his men celebrated a feast of Thanksgiving in Texas in 1541, giving Texas the distinction of being the first place where Thanksgiving was celebrated.

Different Types of Celebrations

Native Americans had rituals around which they celebrated in hopes of ensuring a bountiful harvest. The Cherokees had a Green Corn Dance that they did for this very purpose. The Pilgrims (not to be confused with the Puritans,) rejected any type of public religious display. They held a three-day long non-religious Thanksgiving feast. Although they said grace, the focus of their celebration was on feasting, drinking alcohol (they did have beer,) and playing games.

The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation celebrated a different day of Thanksgiving in 1623. Plagued by a crop-destroying drought, the settlers prayed for relief. They even fasted. A few days later, they got the rain they so desperately needed. Soon thereafter, they received another blessing when Captain Miles Standish came with staples they couldn't otherwise get. He also told them that a Dutch supply ship was en route. In gratitude for the abundance of good fortune, the Plymouth settlers celebrated a day of prayer and Thanksgiving on June 30, 1623.

The Story of Squanto

No discussion of Thanksgiving is complete without a discussion of Squanto, or Tisquantum, as he was known among his people, the Patuxet Indians. It is believed that he was born sometime around 1580. As he returned to his village after a long journey, he and several other Native Americans were kidnapped by Jamestown colonist, Thomas Hunt. Hunt put them on a ship heading to Spain where they were to be sold into slavery.

As fate would have it, some local friars rescued him and many of the other kidnapped natives. Squanto was educated by the friars. Eventually, after asking for freedom so he could return to North America, he ended up in London where he spent time working as a ship builder. By 1619, he was finally able to get passage on a ship headed to New England with other Pilgrims.

Upon arriving at Plymouth Rock, he learned that his entire tribe was wiped out by diseases that accompanied earlier settlers from Europe. In gratitude for passage on their ship, he helped them set up a settlement on the very land where his people once lived. They called the settlement Plymouth. Since they knew nothing about how to survive, let alone how to find food, Squanto taught them everything, from how to plant corn and other crops, how to fertilize them, how and where to get fish and eels and much more.

After a devastating winter during which many settlers died, thanks to Squanto's teaching, they had an abundant harvest. After that harvest, they honored him with a feast. It is this feast of 1621 which was celebrated between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians that is widely considered the first Thanksgiving celebration.

About the Meal of the Plymouth Settlers

Surviving journals of Edward Winslow that are housed at Plymouth Plantation indicate that the first Thanksgiving feast was nothing like what Americans eat today. The meal consisted of venison, various types of wild fowl (including wild turkey,) and Indian corn. There were no cranberries, stuffing, pumpkin pie, potatoes, or any of the other “traditional” foods that appear on modern menus.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the holiday. It is still a day of feasting, and for some, a day of prayer and thanksgiving. For others, it is a celebration of gathering, especially for families. Still others may celebrate in entirely different ways, including watching college football bowl games, or by playing family games.

If you ever wonder why you're so tired after the Thanksgiving meal, it's because turkey contains an amino acid, tryptophan, and it sets off chemicals whose chain reaction combine to make people sleepy.

Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

November 19th, 2015

Sometime around the late teens or early twenties, people’s wisdom teeth start to erupt. These are the third and final set of molars. When wisdom teeth come in properly — meaning they are correctly aligned — they offer more chewing power. Unfortunately, more often than not, wisdom teeth are misaligned, crowd other teeth, and need to be removed.

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

It is thought that we have wisdom teeth because — back in the day — we ate a diet that consisted of more rough foods, like roots, leaves, and meat, all of which required more heavy-duty chewing power.

Reasons Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed

While there is no clear-cut rule that says every single person needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, there are certain situations where one or more wisdom teeth are causing a problem or have a strong likelihood that problems will eventually arise in the future that warrant their removal.

1. Fully Impacted Wisdom Teeth

When a wisdom tooth is “impacted”, it means that the tooth is covered by gum tissue, thereby preventing it from erupting through the gum. This often occurs when the mouth is too small to allow enough room for the tooth to emerge. Because bacteria, food, or other mouth substances can be lodged under the gum that covers the wisdom tooth, it can lead to an acute abscess, known as pericoronitis.

2. Partially Impacted Wisdom Teeth

When a wisdom tooth is partially impacted, meaning the tooth is partially emerged from the gums, it almost always is advised to be removed. Because of its location in the very back of the mouth, a partially erupted wisdom tooth is more susceptible to not only decay and cavities, but also gum disease.

3. Other Reasons to Have Wisdom Teeth Removed

If you experience any of the below dental issues or changes in your dental health, removal of your wisdom tooth (teeth) may be necessary:

  • Pain at or surrounding the wisdom tooth site, including the jaw or cheek area
  • Repetitive infections
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay (extensive)
  • Tumors
  • Cysts
  • Damage to surrounding teeth

It is important to know that the decision to have a wisdom tooth removed isn’t always cut and dry. It is essential to talk to Dr. Richard Mullens about the alignment of your wisdom teeth if they have already erupted, health of your wisdom teeth if impacted or partially impacted, and your overall dental health to determine what is best for your situation. Contact our Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment today!

Radiation and the Safety of Dental X-Rays

November 12th, 2015

It is not uncommon to be concerned about your safety when you have dental X-rays performed. Putting on a heavy lead vest may make you apprehensive. The benefits of dental X-rays far outweigh the risks when safety procedures are followed and the number of X-rays is limited to the required number.

About Dental X-rays

Intraoral X-rays are the most common, and include bitewing X-rays. These allow Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office to detect caries (cavities) and check the health of your bone and root structure. Extraoral X-rays provide the information we need to monitor your jaw and temporomandibular joint (TMJ), as well as look for impacted teeth and tooth development.

X-ray Safety

A set of four bitewing X-rays exposes you to about 0.005 mSv (millisievert) of radiation, which is equal to the amount of radiation you receive in an average day from natural sources. A panoramic X-ray exposes you to about twice the amount of a bitewing. In both cases the risk is negligible and worth the diagnostic benefits.

Guidelines from the American Dental Association are offered for individuals who are not at high risk for cavities. Children in this group should have X-rays every one or two years. Teenagers should have X-rays every one-and-a-half to three years. Adults can go two to three years between X-rays. If you are at higher risk, yearly X-rays are not harmful and can save your teeth.

No matter what type of X-ray you are having, it is extremely important to tell Dr. Richard Mullens or one of our technicians if you are pregnant or may be pregnant. If you are concerned about the number of X-rays you are having done, or about any radiation you are exposed to, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office and talk to us about your concerns.

Are you nervous about seeing the dentist? You’re not alone!

November 5th, 2015

With advances in modern dentistry, a trip to our office these days is pretty routine. But visiting Dr. Richard Mullens and our team still makes some patients anxious—so much so that they don’t go as often as they should and end up with costly complications down the road, such as tooth decay or gum disease.

When it comes to dental care, prevention is the best medicine. And that begins with regular checkups and dental cleanings at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office. Today, we thought we would offer five tips for taking the pain out of a visit to see Dr. Richard Mullens:

1. Ask yourself: What are you most afraid of? Is it the sound of the drill? Do you have needle phobia? Have you been traumatized by previous dental visits? Write down your fears, one by one and talk about them during your visit.

2. Don’t wait. The more frequently your visit our office, the less work will need to be done at any given visit. Simply having your teeth cleaned professionally by Dr. Richard Mullens twice a year prevents many, if not most, problems down the road.

3. Bring a distraction such as music to your appointment. Just plug in those earphones, close your eyes, and get lost in the music. Listening to tunes can also be a pain killer.

4. Unwind. Inhaling slowly and counting to five helps. Try holding your breath for ten seconds, then exhale slowly to the count of eight, and repeat as needed.

5. Ask us. Before any given procedure, we encourage you to ask Dr. Richard Mullens or one of our assistants why we’re using the tools we’re using. Ask us what we’re doing, what the tool is used for, and how it benefits you. Also, please ask about anti-anxiety medications we may prescribe to help you relax during your appointment.

If you suffer from dental anxiety, a visit to our office might seem like a daunting prospect. Perhaps you had a bad experience in the past, but whatever the reason, please know that at our Jacksonville, FL office, there is nothing to be afraid of.

Remember, you’re not alone. We understand that going to the dentist isn’t easy for everyone. In fact, the Journal of the American Dental Association estimates that as many as 12 percent of adults suffer from dental anxiety so bad that they avoid the dentist altogether. Many more suffer from varying degrees of dental anxiety, which often results in poor oral health.

If you suffer from dental anxiety, your fears don’t have to keep you from seeing Dr. Richard Mullens. Our patients at our office are our most important asset, and we strive to create a comfortable experience, no matter how long it has been since your last visit at our Jacksonville, FL office. We hope to see you soon!

Dental Visits Are Not So Bad

October 29th, 2015

Many people dread going to the dentist. Dental visits have the reputation of being painful and uncomfortable, and it is common for people to compare unfortunate situations such as having a root canal or feeling the dentist’s drill. However, at our office, dental visits are not that bad.

Your regular cleaning and checkup are noninvasive. They require no drilling, Novocain, or needles, and you go home with refreshingly clean teeth. When your hygienist cleans your teeth, you are literally receiving individualized care from a professional as you sit back and relax.

In the days before the use of Novocain or other anesthetics, dental work could be painful. Thankfully, those days are gone! Now you are unlikely to feel a thing, even during the most extensive procedures. In addition, most dental work such as fillings, root canals, and crowns can be performed in one to two visits, so you do not need to keep returning to our office.

An incentive for getting over your fear and coming to the dentist is that getting your dental work done can dramatically improve your quality of life. Dr. Richard Mullens can address tooth problems that have caused toothaches or prevented you from eating the foods you like. As a bonus, regular visits with Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff allow us to identify conditions such as periodontal disease, which can indicate risk for seemingly unrelated health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Continuing Education at Dr. Mullens' Office

October 28th, 2015

Our dental hygienists recently completed a very educational and exciting course at Florida State Community College of Jacksonville. Kay, Lisa, and Debbie finished a six-week program (including a two-day course of hands-on training) taught by Mr. Margaret Dennis, DMD, to learn how to administer local anesthesia. Back in 2013, Florida laws changed to allow Dental Hygienists to administer local anesthesia to patients and we are excited to have our hygienists that are trained in this!

Giving local Anesthesia is a learned technique, everyone’s mouth and anatomy will be different. The more you practice, the better and easier it will get. According to the team, “Dr. Dennis was so calm talking us through each injection and during the information lecture session.  Dr. Dennis was so confident in each of us which helped make us feel more comfortable with administering injections for the FIRST time! Dr. Dennis is so knowledgeable and we couldn’t have asked to a better instructor!”

All three hygienists feel that taking this course has given them the confidence, knowledge, and empowerment that they can bring back to our practice to provide the best possible care to our patients.

Their favorite part of the course outside of the regular curricular—getting to meet other hygienists from all over Florida!

We all want send a big congratulations to Kay, Lisa, and Debbie for their long hours of study and hard work! It has certainly paid off and we are so proud of you!

What is The Wand® STA?

October 22nd, 2015

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38% of the adult population in the United States did not visit a dentist in 2013. Of that 38 percent, 21 percent cited “fear” as the cause.

With the innovative, state-of-the-art Wand STA (Single Tooth Anesthesia), patients do not have to fear going to the dentist anymore. The Wand STA eliminates the pain of the local anesthetics that are injected with a syringe into the gums to numb the mouth during the dental procedure.

The majority of people who have encountered a bad experience at the dentist say it is because of the injection to numb the area of the mouth that will be worked on. What you may not realize is that the pricking of the skin is about as painful as a paper cut. More often than not, the discomfort comes from the rapid flow of the local anesthetic.

The Wand STA is a computer controlled injection. The computer controls the rate of which the local anesthetic flows. The faster the local anesthetic injection flows, the more uncomfortable or painful the injection is. The computer slows the flow of the injection, guaranteeing minimal to no pain for you.

What does treatment with the Wand STA involve?

  • The actual hand piece that provides the local anesthetic looks like a pen.
  • The STA delivery system looks similar to a small shaped computer.
  • A cartridge that contains the local anesthetic sits on top of the computer unit. A tube is connected to the pen that has a very small needle inside.
  • The system has two modes: the first one is the regular wand that has three different speeds for injecting the local anesthetic. This mode is used when more than one tooth is being treated. The second mode is the single tooth mode, used to numb just one tooth and prevent the cheek, lips, and entire side of the mouth from becoming numb.

We’re proud to use the Wand STA at our Jacksonville, FL office. It’s a simple but important tool that allows Dr. Richard Mullens to help you to maintain excellent oral health.

Aging and Dental Health

October 15th, 2015

As you grow older, your mind may be preoccupied with the health of your bones, heart, or brain. However, our team at our office will tell you that keeping your teeth healthy is an equally important part of the aging process. Older adults are at increased risk for a variety of oral health conditions, which makes it essential for you to speak with your dentist to create a prevention plan that’s best for you.

Oral health conditions associated with aging

Just as the rest of your body continues to change as you age, your mouth changes, too. Certain conditions become more likely to develop as you reach older adulthood, including:

  • Dry mouth. Although your salivary glands continue to produce saliva as you get older, medications and chronic health problems often cause dry mouth.
  • Root decay. Your teeth have lasted you a lifetime, but improper nutrition or cleaning may lead to decay at the roots of your teeth.
  • Diminished sense of taste. Your eyesight and hearing aren’t the only senses affected by aging. The ability to taste naturally diminishes over the course of older adulthood.
  • Tissue inflammation. Are your gums tender, bleeding, or inflamed? Tissue inflammation may indicate gum disease or may be a consequence of wearing dentures that don’t fit well.
  • Oral cancer. Risk for most cancers increases with age, and oral cancer is no exception. Older adults are at increased risk for oral cancer compared to younger individuals.

Ways you can prevent dental problems

Fortunately, many age-related oral health problems are preventable. Begin by improving your diet to include plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choosing water over coffee or soda will keep your teeth whiter and cavity-free. Also remember to practice good brushing habits to prevent cavities and gum disease.

Visiting the dentist at least twice a year is vitally important when you reach older adulthood. Your dentist is familiar with your oral health and may be the first person to notice a sore, discolored patch, inflammation, or other abnormality that indicates oral cancer or gum disease.

If you’re experiencing any problems with dental health, let your dentist know immediately. Together, you can troubleshoot solutions and create a plan that keeps your mouth and gums healthy.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

I have sensitive teeth. What are my options?

October 8th, 2015

At our office, we have patients coming in asking us why a taste of ice cream or a sip of coffee becomes a painful experience, or why brushing or flossing makes them wince or cringe. The answer, usually, is sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity typically occurs when the underlying dentin layer of the tooth is exposed in the oral cavity, and most people experience tooth sensitivity at some point in their lives.

So, why do people experience sensitivity and how do you know if tooth sensitivity is something to be worried about? The most common cause of the sensitivity is exposure of the dentin, which is the layer surrounding the tooth’s nerve. Contributors to tooth sensitivity include teeth whitening and dental work such as fillings, periodontal treatment, and the placement or adjustment of braces. These are temporary and should be of no concern.

Permanent hypersensitivity, however, may require treatment at our office. The first step is to determine the cause, and that begins with a visit to our Jacksonville, FL office.

The reasons your teeth may become sensitive vary, but possible causes include:

  • Tooth decay (cavities) near the gum line
  • Cracked or fractured teeth
  • Fillings that are worn
  • Gum (periodontal) disease, or recession of the gums
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Brushing too hard
  • Consuming acidic foods

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office want you to know that sensitive teeth can be treated, and the type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. Dr. Richard Mullens may suggest one the following treatments:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste, which contains ingredients that seal off the microtubules inside the exposed dentin to reduce tooth sensitivity
  • Fluoride gel, which strengthens compromised tooth enamel, helps prevent tooth decay, and decreases hypersensitivity of the teeth
  • A crown, inlay, or bonding, which is used to treat tooth decay and prevents sensitivity
  • A surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this procedure will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal: If you are experiencing severe and persistent sensitivity which cannot be treated by other means, Dr. Richard Mullens may recommend you undergo a root canal to eliminate the problem.

If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, give us a call today so that Dr. Richard Mullens can provide you with some much-needed relief!

October is National Dental Hygiene Month: A simple oral health routine for your busy lifestyle

October 1st, 2015

Adults are no strangers to feeling like there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. Your alarm clock rings and within minutes you ping pong around trying to spread peanut butter on sandwiches, answer your cell phone, remove the dog hair from your clothes, and make sure your child has completed his or her science fair project. Brushing your teeth can easily fall to the wayside. That is why our office promotes a simple, daily oral health regimen that you can easily incorporate into your busy lifestyle.

The American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), in partnership with the Wrigley Jr. Company, is celebrating National Dental Hygiene Month (NDHM) during October. The ADHA encourages people to "Brush. Floss. Rinse. Chew...Keep it Clean, Keep it Healthy!" and offers some great tips for a quick and effective home oral health routine, below:

Oral Health Routine at Home

  • Brushing your teeth twice daily is the most important thing you can do to diminish the accumulation of plaque and the potential for other oral problems such as cavities and gingivitis.
  • Flossing once daily removes plaque and food from beneath the gums and between teeth that brushing alone cannot remove. Tooth decay and gum disease often begin in these areas.
  • Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial, non-alcohol based mouthwash kills plaque and gingivitis germs that brushing and flossing do not catch. We recommend using a mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum helps produce saliva, which battles cavities. The gum also neutralizes plaque, strengthens enamel, and removes remaining food. It is especially important to chew gum after eating or drinking.

It's easy to put the toothbrush down in order to take care of matters you feel are more urgent, but remember, a good oral health routine at home is the best way to prevent periodontal disease. "Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. An estimated 75 percent of Americans reportedly have some form of periodontal disease," said the ADHA. Periodontal disease also is linked to more serious illnesses such as diabetes and stroke.

Also, remember to keep regular visits with our office. Dr. Richard Mullens can help you learn more about proper care for your teeth and gums.

My son is turning one. When should I bring him in for a visit?

September 24th, 2015

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team know that cavities know no age boundaries, and that is why we recommend a visit to our Jacksonville, FL office by a child’s first birthday. That also happens to be the opinion of our friends at the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the American Dental Association.

Research has shown that more than one in four kids has had at least one cavity by the time they’re four years old. In fact, many children get cavities as early as age two, which is a critical reason why you should pay us a visit sooner rather than later. Your child’s appointment at our office also covers topics such as the importance of baby teeth, nutrition, development, and any concerns you may have with your child’s dental health. We believe that your child’s first visit with Dr. Richard Mullens should be an enjoyable and positive one, and we strive to teach good oral care that will enable your child to have a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.

To learn more about baby teeth, or to schedule your child’s next visit with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call today! We look forward to seeing you!

Debbie Visits Trinity Christian Academy!

September 23rd, 2015

Our dental hygienist, Debbie went to visit students at Trinity Christian Academy last week. She talked to all the first grade classes about how to take care of teeth--eating healthy snacks and showing them the correct way to brush their teeth and floss. Debbie says,” This was the week the first graders studied teeth in their curriculum and it was a privilege to be asked to do a presentation.”

Each of the children got a fun goody bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to bring home to practice all of the fun things that they learned from Mrs. Debbie.

Here at Dr. Mullens’ office, we feel that starting good oral habits at a young age is very important. We highly encourage children start going to the dentist as young as two years old to get an oral exam and cleaning. Doing this every six months is critical! Dr. Mullens checks for the development of the teeth and if decay is present.  Most children usually start getting loose teeth around the time they start Kindergarten.

CEREC® Single-Visit Crown Benefits

September 17th, 2015

Have you ever had a sinking feeling when you bite into something and hear an unsettling crunch? You know you’ve broken a tooth, and worry about just how long it will take to get it fixed. You’ve heard that it can take two dental appointments and several weeks to get a crown, while the dentist waits for a dental lab to make your new tooth. But who wants to wait that long?

That’s why our Jacksonville, FL office invested time and money into the equipment and training necessary to offer CEREC single-visit crowns to our patients. CEramic REConstruction means that our dental practice can produce metal-free dental restorations to match your smile in just one visit.

CEREC uses CAD/CAM technology, an advanced computer program that acts as a dental restoration tool, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with the mess and discomfort of traditional crown placement. No more choking on dental trays while we make an impression of your teeth. When you come to us with a broken or damaged tooth, we perform a thorough examination and then create a 3D optical impression of your mouth. After that, we use CEREC technology to design and mill a precision ceramic restoration right in our office.

Feel Better Faster With CEREC Restorations

As a patient, you experience many benefits from this one-visit approach to dental restorations. CEREC allows Dr. Richard Mullens to preserve more of your original tooth structure, which means less drilling for you. No temporary crowns are required, because we can take you from diagnosis to restoration in one office visit.

Patients say they love the results, too. Natural tooth-colored porcelain materials are used to create your restoration so it matches your natural coloring as closely as possible.

There is no mess, less discomfort, and no long wait with CEREC, and you get great results, too. Technology is changing the way we provide dental services. If you experience a broken tooth, or are thinking of replacing a cracked or damaged tooth, contact our Jacksonville, FL office today and ask whether a CEREC single-crown visit is right for you.

My child is getting blood blisters; is this normal?

September 10th, 2015

Thanks for the question. The “blisters” you are referring to are actually a normal part of losing baby teeth. Sometimes when teeth start to come through, children experience some bleeding under the skin, which typically causes small blisters or bruises on your child’s gums. The blisters, bluish in color, will disappear once the tooth comes through, and the tooth itself will still come through as it should.

Even though they can look a little frightening at first, there is no treatment required to treat blisters, nor are these blisters preventable. In fact, our bodies do a great job of cleaning up the loose ends of baby tooth loss and permanent tooth emergence, and not too long after, it’s as if no blisters ever happened. It’s important to note, however, that these blisters should not be pricked or cut as doing so may cause an infection in your child’s mouth.

If you are worried about blisters or bruises in your child’s mouth, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens. We especially encourage you to give us a call if your child has had one of these blisters for more than a month and the tooth has yet to come through.

Celebrate Labor Day by Getting Away

September 3rd, 2015

Labor Day honors the contributions that workers have made to this country, and for many Americans, the holiday is a great time to relax at home with family and friends. But there are quite a few people who celebrate the holiday by getting out of town, with an estimated 33 million people traveling more than 50 miles over Labor Day weekend each year. If you’re dreaming of a great Labor Day escape but you’re not quite sure where to go, here are a few ideas from our team at our office to give you some travel inspiration.

Explore a National Park

On a national holiday like Labor Day, it’s only fitting to experience the beauty of America’s landscapes by heading to the nearest national park. If you’re confined to an office most days of the year, national parks can provide a relaxing and scenic escape, whether you’re by yourself, traveling with a group of friends, or bringing the whole family along. Depending on how close you live to the nearest park, you can stay for an afternoon or for longer than a week. With 58 parks located in 27 states, there are plenty of beautiful areas to choose from.

Chow Down in a BBQ Haven

Barbecuing is a popular Labor Day activity, but instead of sweating over your own grill or oven, try visiting one of the country’s BBQ capitals. U.S. News and World Report names Memphis as the top BBQ destination, with more than 80 BBQ restaurants in the city, most notably Corky’s BBQ and Central BBQ. Kansas City is also known for the sweet taste of its sauces, while central Texas is said to have perfected the technique of smoking tender and flavorful brisket.

Relax on the Beach

Many people think of Labor Day as the unofficial start of fall, which brings cooler temperatures, more rain, and for many people, an end to lazy days at the beach. End your beach days with a bang by taking a trip to one of the coasts or to a lakeside beach. For an added dose of festivity, find a city or town that celebrates the occasion with a fireworks display over the water.

Whether you’re looking to turn your getaway into a full week affair or you simply want to experience a quick escape, make the most of your holiday by changing your surrounding scenery. Happy Labor Day from the dental practice of Dr. Richard Mullens!

How does whitening toothpaste work and how effective it is at whitening teeth?

August 27th, 2015

Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association seal of approval can help prevent tooth decay and relieve other conditions, such as bad breath, sensitive teeth, and gingivitis.

Beyond these health effects, another motivation for frequently brushing your teeth with high-quality toothpaste is to keep your teeth white. If you want whiter teeth but do not want to undergo in-office or at-home bleaching treatments, you might consider choosing whitening toothpaste for your daily brushing.

Why Consider Whitening Toothpaste

Whiter teeth are more attractive, which can help you feel more confident in your smile. Your smile is also one of the main components of the first impression you make on people in your professional and personal life. Having a whiter smile and greater self-assurance can send the message that you take care of yourself and are confident in your abilities.

How Whitening Toothpaste Works

The American Dental Association explains that all toothpaste has whitening properties because they help remove food particles from your teeth. To carry the American Dental Association seal for whitening, however, toothpaste must contain certain chemicals that help remove stains.

Unlike bleaching products, which contain carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, whitening toothpaste only cleans the enamel rather than changing the color of your teeth. To obtain the benefits of whitening toothpaste, you need to use it regularly.

The Effectiveness of Whitening Toothpaste Varies

Due to individual variations in the color of your teeth, some people are more likely than others to achieve the desired results with whitening. Teeth that are tinted grayish are unlikely to respond well to bleaching, while brown teeth can sometimes respond, and yellowish teeth are most likely to become pearly white with bleaching.

If Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff believe that bleaching is not a viable option for you, proper oral hygiene and the use of a whitening toothpaste are your best bets for keeping your teeth as white as possible. In addition, avoid using tobacco products, and rinse your mouth after drinking coffee.

Surprising Ways to Prevent Cavities

August 20th, 2015

There are numerous ways to prevent cavities. Some, like brushing your teeth regularly and visiting our Jacksonville, FL office, are more obvious than others. Beyond the standard methods of preventing cavities there are a number of different ways to keep your mouth healthy that you might also find surprising.

1. Reduce your consumption of carbs and sugar.

The consumption of sugar is ultimately the biggest catalyst for cavities. By limiting the sugar you consume both at meals and while snacking you will in turn be preventing cavities. But this goes for all carbs, not just sugar. See, even more complex, lower glycemic, carbs can lead to cavities in your mouth, so the best way to prevent them is to limit your carbohydrate intake. This is not to say that you have to cut out carbs all together, but by reducing your intake, you will prevent cavities and it can also lead to a healthier body overall.

2. Rinse your mouth with food-grade hydrogen peroxide.

For some people this may seem a little odd, but washing your mouth out with a food-grade hydrogen peroxide is an excellent way to prevent cavities. Doing so will kill harmful bacteria that accumulates in your mouth much in the same way applying the anti-septic to a cut does. That said, when you rinse your mouth out similar to how you would use a mouth wash, you want to make sure you don't swallow the hydrogen peroxide, spit it out instead.

3. Use a straw.

If you are someone that drinks a lot of sugary beverages a great way to prevent cavities is to use a straw. This way the sugar in the beverage does not come into contact with your teeth as much as it would if you were to drink straight from a glass, can, cup, or bottle.

4. Chew gum.

Chewing gum is another viable way of preventing cavities. You, of course, will need to chew a sugarless gum flavored with a substitute like Xylitol, and preferably with a cavity fighting ingredient in it.

5. Eat cheese.

Plain and simple cheese has a protein called casein which helps build calcium in your teeth which is vital to the integrity of your mouth and preventing cavities.

How does The Wand® STA work?

August 13th, 2015

The Wand STA (single tooth anesthetic) is an anesthetic delivery system. The system eliminates the use of the traditional syringe-style injection for numbing your mouth before a dental procedure. If you’re afraid of needles, then the Wand STA system is perfect for you.

How the Wand STA Works

The Wand is a computer-controlled local anesthetic delivery system. By using the the Wand STA, Dr. Richard Mullens can numb only the tooth that needs work, not your entire mouth.

Benefits of the Wand STA

The Wand STA was created to eliminate the use of the traditional syringe style injection. It has many benefits, including:

  • Minimal to no pain during the numbing process
  • It eases fear and anxiety for you if you’re afraid of needles
  • The majority of patients state they didn’t even notice when they were giving the local anesthetic
  • In most situations your mouth, tongue, lip, and cheek will not be numb, only the tooth that is being worked on

The Wand STA – What to Expect

The Wand STA is a computer unit. Dr. Richard Mullens will deliver the local anesthetic with a tool called the hand piece; it looks very similar to a pen. We place the pen on the gum where the injection is to be given and control the flow of the injection using the computer. What you probably do not know is that the actual pain that comes from the traditional syringe injection is caused by the rapid flow of the local anesthetic. Since we control the flow with the computer, it is slow and steady, which reduces the pain of the numbing process.

It is important to visits our Jacksonville, FL office regularly to maintain good oral health. The Wand STA system is beneficial in providing a comfortable, syringe-free dental experience.

Oh no, not the dentist!

August 6th, 2015

If you or your children suffer from dental anxiety, you aren’t alone. According to the Cleveland Clinic, between nine and 15 percent of Americans admit to feeling sufficiently afraid of going to the dentist to avoid making an appointment. The potential consequences of dental anxiety extend beyond poor oral health. Lack of dental care can cause serious but easily preventable medical conditions.

Dental Anxiety versus Dental Phobia

Dental anxiety provokes a sense of fear in people, typically before they arrive at our office. Those fears or worries are often exaggerated. Dental phobia shares many of the symptoms that characterize dental anxiety. It is a much more serious manifestation of that anxiety, and may provoke a sense of panic or terror in people. While people who suffer from dental phobias know that their feelings are irrational, they are unable to control, stop, or change those thoughts.

People who have dental phobias often avoid going to the dentist, and they come up with every possible excuse to justify not going. The only time a person who suffers from a dental phobia will go to the dentist is when he or she is forced to do so, or because of intense tooth pain. People who have dental anxiety don’t go to such extremes to avoid going to the dentist; anxiety usually begins in anticipation of the appointment.

What We Do to Ease Patient Anxiety

Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff have many techniques we can use to help patients feel more comfortable at their appointments. Dental Fear Central gives some simple suggestions to help children and adults who are apprehensive about going to the dentist, even if they suffer from the more severe form of anxiety: full-blown dental phobia.

  • The Tell-Show-Do Approach: We help our patients relax by making sure they understand what is involved in the exam and any procedure they may undergo. We tell patients about the procedure, show them the tools and equipment we intend to use, and answer questions before actually performing the procedure. This is helpful for patients who don’t know what to expect.
  • Distraction: We offer personal music players and a collection of CDs that patients can listen to. The relaxing qualities of music may help distract a patient enough to make the process less stressful. In-office televisions allow you to watch TV while waiting for your appointment.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff know that some patients are anxious about dental treatment, and we go to great lengths to make you feel more comfortable. Good oral health is very important, and when your mouth isn’t healthy, you can suffer from many other easily preventable medical problems.

How to Make Brushing Fun

July 30th, 2015

Let’s call it the cranky phase. Let’s call it the “Mom, I don’t want to” stage. When kids are little, getting them to brush can be a challenge. They bite the toothbrush and eat the toothpaste. They make faces in the bathroom mirror, brush for two seconds, and run away. When it’s time to brush, some kids even resort to kicking and screaming, which makes the bedtime chore a lot like, well, pulling teeth.

As a parent, you know the importance of good oral hygiene, so when the dreaded “brushing hour” arrives, if you want to prevent your child from turning into an angry pumpkin, you better have a few tricks up your sleeve to make brushing fun.

Game time

Kids love games, so it’s time to get creative and turn tooth brushing into game time. Whether you’re playing a hide and seek, peek-a-boo game with your child as he or she brushes, or singing the ABC’s as your child brushes for two minutes, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office recommend turning the process into play. Games are based on a reward system, right? If your child does a good job, put a sticker on the calendar. Tell your son or daughter that five stickers will earn a treat at the end of the week.

Fun accessories

A toothbrush that lights up and blinks when you turn it on is more fun than a traditional toothbrush from the dentist’s office. The same is true of a toothbrush that’s shaped like your child’s favorite animal or features a cartoon character. A fun accessory like a Smurfs or Angry Birds toothbrush might make all the difference. A timer is another fun accessory. Give your child the special responsibility of setting it for two minutes before brushing.

The Great Toothpaste Experiment

Kids can be notoriously picky eaters, so it stands to reason that they would be picky about their toothpaste flavors too. Little Johnny might like strawberry, whereas Suzie prefers mango. Spend a night experimenting with different flavors (yes, it’s another game). Say something like, “It’s just like sampling different flavors of ice cream, right kids?”

Eventually, your child will develop the healthy habit of brushing on a regular basis, and think nothing of the time it takes to clean his or her teeth. Just remember to make it fun, and it can be a great experience for you both!

To learn more about making brushing fun for your little one, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

How to Care for a Teething Baby

July 23rd, 2015

After hours of juggling a wailing baby, you’re probably desperate to address teething pain. If your baby is irritable, drooling, and chewing on hard objects, he or she is likely teething. Although some discomfort while your baby is teething is inevitable, learning a few basic approaches can ease painful gums and soothe your frazzled nerves.

  • Offer your finger. Simply chewing on your nice, plump finger may be enough to ease your little one’s pain. Make sure you clean your finger before placing it in your baby’s mouth.
  • Use a teething ring. A firm rubber teething ring allows your child to gnaw, and alleviates pain. If your baby seems to like sucking on a bottle, replace the milk or formula with water during teething periods. This reduces sugar intake and decreases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Cool it down. Stick a clean, moist washcloth in the freezer (place it on a tray for cleanliness) and offer that to your baby. The cooler temperature of the chilled cloth eases the pain of teeth erupting through the gums. Soaking the washcloth in non-caffeinated tea, such as chamomile, may reduce inflammation associated with teething.
  • Grab some hard foods. Certain foods allow your kiddo to gnaw, and can ease teething pain. For example, frozen bananas, large chunks of chilled carrots, an apple, or frozen bagels make good teething pain relievers. If you’re offering your child solid food, watch carefully to ensure that your infant doesn’t bite off a piece and choke.
  • Try a natural remedy. Years of grandmotherly wisdom suggest that home remedies might help with teething. Try rubbing clove oil, peeled ginger root, or vanilla extract onto your child’s gums. Although there isn’t scientific evidence to prove these remedies are effective, they may help your little one through the painful teething process. Just remember to test the method out on your own gums first to ensure any tingling or numbing is bearable for your child.
  • Use medications. If your baby seems to be especially uncomfortable, over-the-counter medications may be appropriate. Giving an age-appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) may reduce discomfort. Make sure you check with your child’s pediatrician or our office first to ensure the medication is safe.

If nothing seems to be helping your child’s teething pain, you can always schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens. Our team at our office understands the unique health needs of your little one, and are more than happy to help ensure he or she grows up with a beautiful smile.

For more information about teething, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office today!

The Wand® STA vs. Traditional Anesthetic

July 16th, 2015

Many people don’t like going to the dentist for anything other than a checkup, but you’re probably going to need dental work at some point. It may be a simple filling or a crown, bridge, or root canal, and you’ll get the work done with an anesthetic so you can’t feel anything. The worst part of the entire process, for many people, is getting the anesthetic to numb up your mouth.

Traditional anesthetic is a dreadful process for some who don’t like long needles. A newer alternative is the Wand STA. It’s a system that has a pen-like device for administering the anesthesia. This wand is connected to hardware that looks like a small computer tower.

Pain with Using the Wand STA versus Traditional Anesthetic

The pain you may feel when the dentist injects you with traditional anesthetic actually isn’t due entirely to the needle. It’s the result of the anesthesia being injected too quickly. With the Wand STA, this isn’t a problem. The system is designed to inject the anesthesia more slowly so you don’t feel the pain.

Control of the Wand STA versus Traditional Anesthetic

Dentists who use traditional anesthetic are entirely responsible for controlling the entire operation. They’re very well-trained, but there is always room for human error. You can end up with unnecessary pain if the anesthetic is administered too quickly. The Wand STA control tower connects to the pen-like wand and automatically controls the rate at which the anesthetic is administered. Because of its small size, it’s also helpful in working on places in the mouth that are harder to reach.

What are the drawbacks of the Wand STA?

It is natural to wonder why all dentists don’t use the Wand STA in their offices if it’s easier for them and more comfortable to use. So, what’s the catch? Actually, there isn’t one for patients. The only reasons not to use the Wand STA are related to drawbacks for dentists and staff, mostly from a cost and training standpoint.

Of course, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team stop at nothing to provide our patients with the very best, regardless of the cost to us. That’s why the Wand STA is something we offer to all our patients at our Jacksonville, FL office.

Improve Your Oral Health with CEREC®

July 9th, 2015

You can improve your oral health with CEREC, the most technically advanced tooth restoration method available today. Broken, worn, decayed, misshapen, or otherwise damaged teeth do not function well and are difficult to clean. This means imperfect teeth do more than ruin your smile; even one bad tooth can negatively affect your oral health.

If you are like millions of people with broken, slightly crooked, or misshapen teeth, you have a hard time cleaning in all the nooks and crannies around these teeth. This leaves these areas vulnerable to buildup of bacteria and plaque that can lead to painful gum infections and tooth decay.

Dentists often perform dental restorations, using synthetic materials to create crowns and fillings that restore the tooth’s shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance. Dental restoration reduces those hard-to-clean nooks and crannies, making it easier for you to maintain good oral hygiene. Dental crowns can even protect a tooth from further decay, halting oral disease in its tracks.

CEREC® to Improve Your Oral Health

CEREC is one of the most revolutionary ideas in dental restorations that improve oral health. CEREC is an acronym, short for CEramic REConstruction. The system uses a special camera, computer, and an in-office milling machine to create restorative pieces in just one office visit.

To use the CEREC system, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team use the camera to take a 3D picture of your teeth and mouth. The camera then sends the images to the computer, where we use the information to create your new dental crown or other restoration. The milling machine then creates the actual restoration used to restore your imperfect tooth or teeth.

Because CEREC restorations are computer generated, they fit better than traditional crowns and restorations. This superior fit leaves fewer gaps for bacteria to hide, reducing your risk for gum disease and tooth decay. Dr. Richard Mullens can perform CEREC in just one office visit, so you never leave your teeth vulnerable to bacteria while you wait for days or weeks for your conventional crown to come back from the lab.

Make an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office today to learn how you can improve your oral health with CEREC.

Fun Facts for the Fourth

July 2nd, 2015

The Fourth of July is a great time to get together with friends and family members for BBQ, games, fireworks, and other celebrations in honor of our country’s independence. While your fellow revelers eat hot dogs and wave flags, you can impress them by sharing these fascinating facts and historical tidbits about some of our country’s traditions and symbols from the team at our office.

The Statue of Liberty

With a torch in one hand and a tablet in the other, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of our country. However, as recognizable as certain parts of the statue are, not many people know that broken shackles, which represent oppression and tyranny, are lying at Lady Liberty’s feet. According to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the copper-plated lady weighs in at a whopping 450,000 tons and has been holding her torch up for more than 125 years, which must make for some impressive arm muscles.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Since 1916, people have been flocking to Coney Island on the Fourth of July to witness what some people call the “superbowl of competitive eating.” Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest challenges competitors to devour as many hot dogs as they can in just ten minutes, with the current record holder swallowing a whopping 68 hot dogs! If you’d like to witness this bizarre and frenzied eating competition but you won’t be anywhere near Coney Island on the fourth, don’t worry. ESPN has been broadcasting this popular event for several years, so you can watch from the comfort of your couch while you eat a reasonably portioned meal.

The History Behind Fireworks

Viewing the nighttime fireworks display is exciting way to finish off the fourth. Many people know that these brilliant displays probably originated with the Chinese. However, many historians also believe that fireworks were stumbled upon when the Chinese roasted bamboo sticks over fires and watched them explode. After many years of roasting the sticks, a group of alchemists created an early form of gunpowder, which they stuffed into the bamboo sticks to create an even more powerful explosion, paving the way for the today’s modern fireworks.

Whether you’re planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty, watching fireworks in Jacksonville, FL, or even participating in a hot dog eating contest, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team hope you have a safe and fun-filled holiday. Happy Fourth of July!

What is hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

June 25th, 2015

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or HFMD, is a type of contagious viral illness that causes a rash in the mouth and on the hands and feet of infants and young children, and, while rare, adults. Characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus, a bacterium that lives in the human digestive tract. HFMD can spread from person to person, typically via unwashed hands.

What are the symptoms of HFMD?

Symptoms of HFMD usually begin with a fever, sore throat, poor appetite, or general malaise. A couple of days after the fever starts, kids may develop painful sores in the mouth. A skin rash characterized by red spots may also develop, usually on the palms of your child’s hands and soles of their feet. It’s important to note some children may only experience a rash while others may only have mouth sores.

Is HFMD serious? Should we be concerned?

Usually not. Nearly all children infected recover anywhere between seven to ten days without medical treatment. Rarely, however, a child can develop viral meningitis and may need to be hospitalized. Other rare complications of HFMD can include encephalitis (brain inflammation), which can be fatal.

How can my child prevent HFMD?

There is no known vaccine to defend your child against HFMD. However, the risk of your child contracting the disease can be reduced by:

  • Making sure your child washes his or her hands often
  • Thoroughly cleaning objects and surfaces (these include doorknobs and toys)
  • Making sure your child avoids close contact with those who are infected

To learn more about hand-foot-and-mouth disease or to schedule an appointment for your child, please give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office!

How often does my child need to see the dentist?

June 18th, 2015

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, checkups at our office are recommended for all children two times a year. Children should be evaluated for cavities and other emerging dental issues every six months, because these problems can lead to more serious dental problems and health issues if left untreated.

While it is always good to follow the official guideline mentioned above, it is also important to understand that each child is unique and his or her dental needs are equally unique. If your child shows signs of dental or orthodontic problems, Dr. Richard Mullens might recommend more frequent visits.

One way to help your son or daughter maintain good oral health between pediatric dental visits is to monitor brushing and oral care habits, especially if the child is still very young. Children who are two to five years of age will usually still require at least some degree of monitoring during their dental care routine.

The Checkup Visit

During your child’s regular dental care checkups, Dr. Richard Mullens will evaluate the current state of oral health and will be able to recognize any issues. The twice-yearly checkup visits are typically the time at which problems like cavities, irregular growth patterns of the teeth, and oral decay are discovered. Thus, making these appointments for your child, and following through with them, is extremely important.

Learning and Maintaining Good Oral Health

Dr. Richard Mullens and our Jacksonville, FL staff are your partners in terms of your child’s health care. Even when your child is an infant and a toddler, good brushing and other oral care habits can be taught. We will help you to educate your child about how to care for teeth in the most effective way, and you can carry those lessons home and help your child to follow them for the ultimate in oral health.

How to Care for a CEREC® Restoration

June 11th, 2015

Our Jacksonville, FL office often provides CEREC for patients who need tooth restorations. Quite simply, patients love their new smiles. And they love the durable, easy-to-care-for natural of CEREC.

For many people, a CEREC restoration is like getting a childhood smile back again -- only more brilliant than ever before.

After treatment, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team hear a lot of questions about how to keep the repaired smile looking fresh and clean. Keep these tips in mind:

Talk to us: Please don’t leave our office with any unanswered questions about your new restoration. Let us know if you have any concerns about diet, tooth and gum care, or if you feel any discomfort.

Check your smile: People who aren't thrilled with their smiles often avoid looking at their teeth and gums. You may be in the habit of brushing and flossing without even checking the mirror.

With a new smile, the mirror becomes your friend again. Use the mirror when you clean your teeth to make sure you've removed all visible food particles. Check your gumline for redness or tender areas.

Chew things over: Your CEREC restoration should provide a very normal and comfortable eating experience. In fact, if your teeth were giving you problems while eating, the treatment should help relieve the discomfort. If you still experience pain or chewing feels uncomfortable, call our office and let us know.

Brush and floss: CEREC dental restorations need the same care as your natural teeth. Keep brushing and flossing after meals. Use a mouthwash if you prefer or if we recommend one for gum care. Follow any special advice the doctor or the hygienist gives you during your exam.

Finally, make sure to come see us every six months for a cleaning and exam. Caring for your CEREC restorations is that simple, and has the added benefit of helping keep teeth and gums in good shape, too.

Getting Ready for Summer Sports

June 4th, 2015

With the warmer and longer days here, we know many of our patients at our office will be much more active in the summer. Though most of our patients are probably already ready to hit the field for some summer fun, we thought we would discuss a few precautions to take when it comes to keeping your teeth safe as you enjoy playing your favorite sports.

Use a Mouthguard

Are your kids participating in contact sports this summer? If the answer is yes, we strongly encourage you to have them fitted for a mouthguard at our office before the season starts. Athletes can avoid serious mouth and jaw injuries by using a mouthguard.

Be Mindful of Sports Drinks

While sports drinks can be refreshing after a game, they unfortunately contain high levels of sugar and citric acid, which are known to erode the teeth and reduce the minerals in the outer tooth enamel. The simplest way to prevent sports drinks from damaging your teeth? Avoid them completely and drink water instead. Water is a great option to keep you hydrated before, during, or after a game.

Floss, Floss, Floss

While we always tell our patients about the importance of flossing, it is especially important on the day of the game. Athletes are likely to consume more sugar; from energy bars and chews to gum, you are not doing your teeth any favors. All that sugar may give you that extra bounce in your step when out on the field, but we want you to remember to floss when you get home, or else contend with an increased risk of cavities down the road.

If you have any questions about keeping your teeth and mouth healthy while participating in summer sports, please give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office! Have fun!

Solutions for Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

May 28th, 2015

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common side effect of many medications. It can also be a side effect of cancer treatments, or the result of certain auto-immune diseases. Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office will tell you that for most people, discontinuing their medication isn’t an option. The solution is two-fold: find ways to increase saliva production and eliminate specific things that are likely to increase dryness in the mouth.

Lack of saliva creates a situation in the mouth that allows harmful organisms such as yeast and bacteria to thrive. It may also make it difficult to swallow food, create a burning feeling in your mouth, or cause bad breath, among other problems.

Medications that are known to cause dry mouth include:

  • Anti-depressant drugs
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Drugs for lowering blood pressure
  • Allergy and cold medications — antihistamines and decongestants
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Medications to alleviate pain
  • Drugs used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Saliva helps people digest their food. It also functions as a natural mouth cleanser. Xerostomia increases the risk you will develop gum disease or suffer from tooth decay.

Solutions for dry mouth

  • Carry water wherever you go, and make a point of taking regular sips.
  • Avoid oral rinses that contain alcohol or peroxide.
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candies that contain xylitol.
  • Limit your consumption of caffeine, carbonated beverages (including seltzer and sparkling waters), and alcoholic beverages.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and use dental floss or other inter-dental products to remove food particles that get stuck between your teeth.
  • Look for oral rinses and other oral hygiene products that bear the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval.
  • Brush your teeth and use oral rinses that contain xylitol. Certain gels and oral sprays are equally helpful. Biotene is one over-the-counter brand that makes products designed to treat dry mouth.
  • Make sure you get your teeth checked and cleaned twice a year. Dr. Richard Mullens will be able to examine your mouth for problems and treat them before they turn into something more serious.

You may not be able to solve your dry mouth problem altogether, but you’ll be able to deal with it by following these recommendations. You’ll be able to increase saliva production while reducing your risk of more serious dental problems. To learn more about preventing dry mouth, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Memorial Day: Parades, remembrance, and the unofficial start of summer!

May 21st, 2015

“The purpose of all war is peace.” - Saint Augustine

Fire truck sirens, baton twirlers, marching bands covering patriotic tunes, colorful floats, costumes, and millions of red, white, and blue American flags being waved in the air on a beautiful day in late May, that is what Memorial Day is all about. It is a federal holiday celebrated with town parades, remembrance, and a sense of unity and community togetherness.

Our team at our office wants to take this time to wish you and your family a happy Memorial Day, as well as pause for a moment to reflect on what this holiday means and how it has changed over time. No, this is not a history lesson, but just a couple of thoughts and observances for you to take with you on your way to the next barbecue.

On the last Monday in May, America observes Memorial Day as a time to remember and celebrate the men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country in the Armed Forces. The holiday originated after the Civil War; at that time it was known as Decoration Day. While holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter remain the same from year to year, Memorial Day has changed over time, and in the 21st century we observe a far different holiday than what Americans did after the Civil War, or even the World Wars.

While many people place flags at cemeteries and visit national memorials in order to honor those who have passed away serving the country, Memorial Day is also a time for family barbecues, pool parties, trips to the beach, blockbuster movies, long weekend getaways, and fireworks. In America, Memorial Day has come to represent the unofficial start of the summer – a long, sunny, warm weekend devoted to family togetherness, outdoor events, and community.

It is time to load up the potato salad and the apple pie and head over to the neighbor’s house for their annual barbecue. And yes, contrary to popular belief, we do eat sweets, especially homemade apple pie! Everything in moderation, of course.

So whether you’re in the Jacksonville, FL area or beyond, Happy Memorial Day to you and yours from Dr. Richard Mullens!

What's on your child's reading list?

May 14th, 2015

What better way for children to spend their time than cuddled up by the fireplace or out in the yard with a book in hand? Dr. Richard Mullens and our team encourage you to inspire your child’s mind with a few great books. Sure it may be easy to put off reading when balancing a busy schedule, but reading is vital to kids’ brain development. Plus, reading is always fun!

This week, we thought we’d ask: What are you or your child reading? Do you have any suggestions for must-read books? Out of ideas for great reads? Ask us during your next visit, and Dr. Richard Mullens and our team would be happy to provide a few suggestions. You may also ask a local librarian here in Jacksonville, FL for some ideas.

Happy reading! Be sure to share your book picks or your all-time favorites with us below or on our Facebook page!

Summer is Almost Here: Tips for a bright, white smile!

May 7th, 2015

Summer is almost here, which means a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories is just around the corner for our patients at our office.

Everyone wants a glowing and radiant white smile when the sun comes around and we have a few reminders to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful over the summer! Try to stay away from drinks that will stain your teeth like coffee, soft drinks, or dark colored juices. Not only will drinks like this weaken your enamel but they will also darken that fabulous smile you're working on! Another tip is to try and focus on brushing your teeth; everyone knows that when busy schedules start picking up, getting a good brushing session in tends to take the backseat! A good tip for keeping your mouth safe from staining and other possible pitfalls is to rinse your mouth with water after any meal you can’t fully brush your teeth after. Your teeth, inside and out, will benefit!

And remember, whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, or just having fun in the backyard this summer, we want to hear all about it! Make sure to let us know what you’re up to below or on our Facebook page! We also encourage you to post any photos from your adventures!

The CEREC® Treatment Process

April 30th, 2015

If you’ve ever wondered why restorative dentistry takes so long or requires so many appointments, you’ll be pleased to learn about CEREC, or Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, also known as CEramic REstoration. This high-tech approach can get you finished with your treatment in a single dental visit at our Jacksonville, FL office. This is what you should know about the CEREC treatment process.

You get digital impressions with CEREC.

CEREC is a type of computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) dentistry. Dr. Richard Mullens and our team will prepare your tooth and then take a digital image using specialized equipment and software. Next, the onlay, crown, or other restorative device is manufactured on-site. Since the process is digitalized, it’s comfortable and accurate.

Treatment only takes a single visit.

Nobody likes going to the dentist multiple times for a single problem. Among the most inconvenient parts about getting a crown is needing two appointments. During the first visit, you not only need to have a mold taken, which is uncomfortable enough in itself. You also need to have a temporary crown put on the tooth and hope that it lasts, without much discomfort, until your second visit.

With CEREC, the digital impression is used to quickly produce your final crown on-site. That means we can apply your crown and you’ll be ready to go. You don’t need to return for a second appointment in a few weeks.

CEREC materials are made of porcelain or ceramics.

Some crowns, bridges, and fillings are made of metal. While lead-free metals can be safe, silver and gold-colored objects in your mouth aren’t attractive. CEREC crowns and bridges are made of ceramic, and fillings are porcelain. They are closer to the natural color of your teeth. In addition, porcelain fillings can be more durable than composite ones.

CEREC lets you avoid multiple trips to the dentist, and it can also give better results. Ask Dr. Richard Mullens about CEREC to find out whether it is an option for you.

Preventing Tooth Decay in Children

April 23rd, 2015

Childhood tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting nearly one in three children between the ages of two and five. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that tooth decay can appear in children as young as six months old. As a parent, it is possible to spare your child from early childhood tooth decay, and potentially prevent a lifetime of oral health problems in one fell swoop.

Birth to age two

Good oral health begins before your child’s teeth ever erupt from the gums. During the first few months of life, you should be wiping your child’s gums with a damp cloth after eating. As soon as teeth appear, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office recommend you start brushing them with a toddler toothbrush and water, and call our Jacksonville, FL office to schedule your child’s first visit. Never allow your child to go to bed with a bottle, and try to limit beverages other than water only to meal times. Children who walk around or go to sleep with bottles or sippy cups full of juice or milk are exposed to more sugars and are more likely to develop tooth decay.

Ages two to six

All of your child’s primary teeth should erupt by age three. Brush your toddler’s teeth at least twice daily with a toddler toothpaste and toothbrush. As your child gets older and learns not to swallow toothpaste, you may begin to use oral care products specially designed for preschoolers and elementary-age children. Be sure to maintain regular dental appointments and cleanings as recommended by your child’s dentist, and encourage your son or daughter to begin drinking from a regular cup. This is also the time to teach your child the importance of healthy eating habits, which includes limiting sweets and sugary desserts to mealtime.

By first grade, your child will begin to lose primary teeth. This is the time to start talking with Dr. Richard Mullens about dental sealants, which can prevent tooth decay from forming on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Sealants are painless, easy to apply, and undetectable to other people.

Tips

Fluoride is an important ingredient for healthy teeth. Check to make sure the water your child drinks is enriched with fluoride. Also, brush your child’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, and talk to our office about whether fluoride treatments could be right for your family. For more information about preventing your child’s tooth decay, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Make Every Day Earth Day

April 16th, 2015

Earth Day began in 1970 as an event to raise awareness of our environment. What began as a single day in April is now recognized around the world to bring attention and education to global environmental issues. Conserving our natural resources, reducing water and air pollution, and developing green technologies are all ways in which we can improve the environment around us.

Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse

One of the easiest ways to participate in Earth Day is by simply reducing the amount of refuse that ends up in landfills. Many communities have recycling programs for paper, plastic, and metal refuse. By keeping recyclable items out of landfills, we reduce the need for new disposal space and the amount of energy needed for burning refuse. Recycling products also helps conserve the resources that are used in making new products.

You can save money by reducing your consumption of many everyday products. Single disposable water bottles can be recycled but they are costly. By using filtered faucet water, you can conserve your financial resources. Disposable paper towels can also be wasteful. Consider reusable cleaning rags for the majority of your chores.

Reusing items saves both the environment and your finances. A large number of products can be re-purposed to create a new item. Old furniture can be remade into a new piece. Old clothing can be used for craft items. If you are not able to find ways to reuse your old items, donate them to a charity. Remember to continue your positive environmental steps on a daily basis.

Other things you can do to improve the environment

Everyone, young or old, can find ways to participate in improving the environment. Some ideas include:

  • Planting trees
  • Picking up litter
  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Walking, bicycling, or carpooling to work or school
  • Disposing of hazardous waste properly
  • Using rain barrels to conserve water for plants

Earth Day is designed to appreciate and celebrate the health of the earth. Keeping the earth healthy is important, but keeping your mouth healthy is important, too. Healthy teeth and gums contribute to your overall health and well-being, so remember to call our team at our office to schedule an appointment. Have a happy and healthy Earth Day, from Dr. Richard Mullens!

How Tooth-Colored Fillings Improve Your Smile

April 9th, 2015

Today’s crowns, veneers, and tooth colored fillings are very natural looking compared to early counterparts. There was a time when dentists placed silver fillings exclusively. This material is still used, however the most common material used today in fillings is composite, tooth-colored fillings. Composite fillings can be made to match any shade of tooth and even let light travel through them like natural enamel.

Composite fillings are great in many different scenarios. The most obvious reason is when a cavity is present. This is an excellent way to seemingly erase the imperfection that once was. It is almost as if the cavity was never there.

Placing composite fillings to reshape teeth can also minimize excessive spacing. In the case of a diastema, (a large space between the two front teeth) composite material is a non-invasive and cost-effective choice that provides instant results. It can be an alternative to braces.

Mottled enamel is a symptom of fluorosis, which causes discoloration and imperfections in the enamel. Composites are the material of choice for masking this condition.

Composite fillings are easy to place, easy on the eyes, and easily repaired. With skill and good composite material, a filling can be easily disguised. This look is desired most in our society today, where dental perfection is now standard.

In conclusion, your smile is in good hands with composite fillings. There are some great materials that give a near perfect match to the appearance of natural tooth enamel. Smile with confidence knowing no one ever has to know. Your secret is safe with us at our office!

What is CEREC® and what are its benefits?

April 2nd, 2015

When you are having trouble with your teeth, one of the worst parts of the experience can be making multiple trips to the dentist instead of getting everything done in one trip. CEREC allows you to save time and get better results by taking advantage of advanced technology to restore your teeth with a crown, inlay, or onlay.

What is CEREC?

CEREC is the short term for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, or CEramic REConstruction. CEREC uses CAD/CAM (computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing) technology to take impressions quickly and generate a precisely fitted filling so you can leave our office sooner.

How can CEREC help you?

One of the biggest advantages of CEREC is its convenience. If you need a crown, inlay, or onlay, you can get your teeth restored during a single trip to our office. Traditionally, these procedures require two trips to the dentist.

During the first, the dentist cleans the tooth, makes a mold, and places a temporary restoration onto the tooth. In a couple of weeks, after the permanent restoration is ready, you need to return to the office so that the dentist can remove the temporary fix and place the permanent one.

The CEREC process lets you receive your permanent restoration right here in our Jacksonville, FL office, so you do not have to live for weeks with a temporary fix and schedule another appointment. In addition, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team use digital impressions to make a mold for the filling. This is more comfortable and accurate than traditional impressions with plaster.

Another benefit of CEREC is that it uses a single block of solid ceramic materials instead of pressed ceramic and metal. CEREC restorations are able to withstand moderate chewing so yours will last for years. The lifespan of a CEREC restoration is longer than similar work with traditional methods. In addition, the color of CEREC ceramic is closer to the color of your natural teeth, which will make your restoration virtually unnoticeable.

For more information about CEREC single-visit restorations, contact our office.

Five Fun Snacks for Healthy Teeth

March 26th, 2015

Snacks can taste good and give your child’s energy a boost, but they can also be bad for teeth. Sugary, sticky snacks, such as candy, cookies, and snack cakes can lead to tooth decay if eaten regularly between meals. Still, there are plenty of fun snacks for healthy teeth.

The trick when selecting snacks is to avoid too many added sugars and refined carbohydrates that stay on the teeth and give bacteria a chance to ferment and produce acid from them, which can lead to tooth decay. In addition, snacks should provide nutrients to support a healthy mouth. These are five fun snacks you can feel good about giving to your child.

1. Yogurt and cereal.

Yogurt contains calcium, which is an essential mineral for strong and healthy teeth. Select plain yogurt or yogurt flavored with real fruit, rather than flavored yogurt that is sweetened with added sugar. We recommend choosing a whole-grain cereal, which is less likely to lead to dental caries. Choose a low-sugar or unsweetened cereal to avoid accidentally making the snack as sugary as a candy bar.

2. Tuna and whole-wheat crackers.

Canned tuna contains vitamin D, which is an essential vitamin for helping your body absorb and use calcium. Whole-wheat crackers are natural sources of antioxidants for a strong immune system, and they’re lower in refined carbohydrates than white crackers.

3. Bell pepper strips and hummus.

Red, yellow, and green bell peppers are excellent sources of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. Vitamin C is also a good choice for supporting regeneration or maintenance of healthy gum tissue. Vitamin E is another antioxidant, and it also supports a healthy immune system. A strong immune system is protective against infections, such as bacterial infections associated with gum disease.

4. Turkey and cheese roll-ups.

Turkey is carbohydrate-free, so it doesn’t leave residues of sugars on teeth for bacteria to ferment. Lean ham is another good choice. Low-fat cheddar, mozzarella, or Swiss cheese is a good source of calcium as well as protein. For a more substantial snack that’s still low in carbohydrates and sugar, add a few celery sticks.

5. Peanut butter and carrots.

Peanut butter is another source of vitamin E. Carrots provide vitamin A, which is essential for a strong immune system. You can also substitute cauliflower or broccoli florets for the carrots, and ranch dressing for the peanut butter, and still have a snack that’s fun to eat and good for your child’s teeth.

For more great snack tips, ask a member of our Jacksonville, FL team at your child’s next appointment!

Oral Cancer Facts and Figures

March 19th, 2015

Oral cancer is largely viewed as a disease that affects those over the age of 40, but it can affect all ages, even non-tobacco and alcohol users. Oral cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, and the floor of the mouth. Our team at our office recently put together some facts and figures to illustrate the importance of visiting our Jacksonville, FL office.

Our friends at the American Cancer Society recommend an oral cancer screening exam every three years for people over the age of 20 and annually for those over age 40. Because early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment, be sure to ask Dr. Richard Mullens and our team to conduct an oral exam during your next visit to our Jacksonville, FL office.

  • Symptoms of oral cancer may include a sore in the throat or mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal, a red or white patch that persists, a lump or thickening, ear pain, a neck mass, or coughing up blood. Difficulties in chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaws are often late symptoms.
  • The primary risk factors for oral cancer in American men and women are tobacco (including smokeless tobacco) and alcohol use. Risk rises dramatically (30%) for people who both smoke and consume alcohol regularly.
  • Oral cancers are part of a group of cancers commonly referred to as head and neck cancers, and of all head and neck cancers they comprise about 85% of that category.
  • Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer among men.
  • Oral cancer is more likely to affect people over 40 years of age, though an increasing number of young people are developing the condition.
  • Death rates have been decreasing over the past three decades; from 2004 to 2008, rates decreased by 1.2% per year in men and by 2.2% per year in women, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • About 75% to 80% of people with oral cavity and pharynx cancer consume alcohol.
  • The risk of developing oral cavity and pharynx cancers increases both with the amount as well as the length of time tobacco and alcohol products are used.
  • For all stages combined, about 84% of people with oral cancer survive one year after diagnosis. The five- and ten-year relative survival rates are 61% and 50%, respectively.
  • It is estimated that approximately $3.2 billion is spent in the United States annually on treatment of head and neck cancers.

Cancer can affect any part of the oral cavity, including the lip, tongue, mouth, and throat. Through visual inspection, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office can often detect premalignant abnormalities and cancer at an early stage, when treatment is both less extensive and more successful.

Please let us now if you have any questions about your oral health either during your next scheduled appointment, by giving us a call or asking us on Facebook.

Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day

March 12th, 2015

Millions of people, around Jacksonville, FL and beyond, wear green on St. Patrick’s Day so they can show their spirit for the holiday and avoid getting pinched. While it may be easy for you to throw on a green shirt, sport a St. Patrick’s Day button, or wear a pair of emerald-hued shoes, if you’re an avid St. Patty’s Day enthusiast you may want to try something different this year. Dr. Richard Mullens thought of a few ideas that will help you take your holiday spirit to the next level:

Visit Chicago’s Green River

If you happen to be near the Windy City during St. Patrick’s Day or you’re thinking of planning a trip, don’t miss out on going downtown to watch the large-scale celebration that kicks off when the city dyes the river bright green. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago has been celebrating the holiday with this tradition for more than 50 years, with tens of thousands of people gathering annually to witness the mysterious dying process and the stunning result.

Don Green Face Paint

Just like an avid sports fan on game day, you can use green face paints to showcase your enthusiasm for this holiday. Avoid breakouts or allergic reactions by only using paints that are specifically meant to be applied to the skin. A little bit of face paint can cover a large area, so feel free to get creative and decorate the whole family on St. Patrick’s Day.

Eat Green All Day

Not a fan of green eggs and ham? With the increasing popularity of green smoothies, there’s no better time to get in on this health craze. To create a green smoothie without the aid of food coloring, you can simply blend a generous amount of a leafy green vegetable, such as spinach or kale, with the ingredients that you would typically use to make a smoothie, like fruit, ice, milk, or juice. Keep the trend going throughout the day by using those same vegetables to create a green soup, egg salad, or a batch of bright green pastries. As an added bonus, you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamins without changing the taste of most of these foods.

If your old holiday routine has gotten stale, leave your green T-shirt in the drawer and try one or all of these tips. Don’t be surprised if you have so much fun that you decide to start a new, annual St. Patrick’s Day tradition! Have a happy St. Paddy’s day from our office!

Are your teeth ready for the big day?

March 5th, 2015

Capturing the Moment

At our office we know that just about anyone who has taken on the challenge of planning her own wedding could tell you how important the little details can be. Things like having complementary colors, the right location, show-stopping flowers, and delicious food are all a big part of planning your spring wedding. Another little detail that has a big "I do" related role? Your smile.

Whether you’re the bride, or an attendant, looking your best when you tie the knot (or help someone tie the knot) is essential. If your teeth aren’t ready to make an entrance, turning to one of the many available teeth whitening solutions is a great option.

Reliable Solutions

Before the wedding day arrives, you should take your smile into consideration. If diet and daily wear-and-tear have caused your teeth to lose their original luster, our team can help! In-office procedures do cost more than kits you use at home, but with an in-office treatment, you benefit from a professional taking proper care of your teeth.

In addition, relying on our office to handle teeth whitening before the wedding can give you access to trustworthy advice on how to keep your teeth looking their best for a longer period of time. It’s common for someone experienced in assisting people with their oral health to suggest investing in an in-office whitening technique and then following up with a teeth-whitening kit at home.

This is a season of new beginnings and beauty. Take the time to bring out your most beautiful smile before the big day. Don’t let your smile hold you back on your wedding. With our in-office teeth whitening, you can be sure that you’ll be more confident and comfortable interacting with friends and family. So remember, when in need of some quality oral care in Jacksonville, FL to think of Dr. Richard Mullens!

Dr. Mullens Gives Back: Give Kids a Smile

March 3rd, 2015

Dr. Mullens and our team love the community in which we live and work. That’s why Dr. Mullens was excited at the opportunity to participate in the Give Kids a Smile event at the Sulzbacher Center recently!

The Sulzbacher Center is Northeast Florida’s largest provider of comprehensive services for homeless men, women, and children, according to the organization’s website. They seek to empower and restore hope and self-sufficiency to homeless and at-risk members of our community through health, housing, and income services.

Dr. Mullens and other local dentists helped put on this event, reaching over 50 children here in our community. They provided dental care to the children and taught them about good oral health habits, such as brushing, flossing, and educating them on what snacks are best for their teeth.

There are many opportunities to get involved with the Sulzbacher Center, whether it is volunteering your time, donating items, attending fundraising events, or making monetary contributions. Check out the center's website to learn more! www.sulzbachercenter.org

How do I make my child’s diet safe for his or her teeth?

February 26th, 2015

The food you feed your child can have a lasting effect on his or her oral health. In fact, diet plays a major role in whether a child develops cavities and decay, which can lead to many dental visits and potential tooth loss. So what should you feed your child to ensure he or she has a healthy smile for life?

Foods to Avoid

It is normal for your child to take interest in many foods -- especially those filled with sugar and carbohydrates. But as tasty as these foods are, they can cause rapid decay when eaten in excess. That’s not to say your child can never have sugar again. Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff suggest limiting starchy and sugary foods such as candy and potato chips as much as possible.

Remember that some seemingly healthy foods can present the threat of decay too. Some of the most common culprits are sticky foods like peanut butter, raisins, and granola bars, which can stick to the teeth after eating. If you serve these foods to your child, be sure to have him or her brush immediately after eating to remove any lingering sugary residue.

Beverages

Many beverages marketed toward children contain sugar servings that far exceed the daily recommendations from national health organizations. They suggest no more than three to four teaspoons of added sugar per day for young children.

Make an effort to serve only water to your child any time other than meal times. During meals, allow your child to have milk or juice, but in limited serving sizes. Most importantly, never allow your young child to sleep with a bottle or “sippie cup” full of juice or milk. Doing so can cause rapid tooth decay: a condition known as “baby bottle caries.”

A Healthy and Balance Diet

So long as your child is brushing regularly and eating a healthy, balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, you should have little or no problem with tooth decay. For more questions about how your child’s diet affects his or her oral health, contact our Jacksonville, FL office to schedule a consultation.

I’m on a diet and getting MORE cavities!

February 19th, 2015

Health gurus rave about replacing unhealthy food choices with healthy ones in your diet. If you want to maintain your beautiful smile as well as your waistline, choose foods that are good for your teeth and good for losing weight. This article will discuss some of the worst healthy foods for your teeth and gums, and what you can do to continue to enjoy them.

When watching your weight, snacks heavy in sugar and starch are the first target for elimination. You want to trade those empty calories for something with more nutritional value. A healthier snack is fruit and vegetables. When you are substituting empty calories with whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, consider a few implications for your dental health.

The most acidic fruits are grapes, grapefruit, and strawberries. Want to know the number-one worst healthy food for your tooth enamel? Apples! An apple a day may keep the doctor away but you may soon be calling your dentist.

Another healthy food often incorporated into dieting is salads. But consider what you put in those salads. Salad dressings are filled with vinegar and sweeteners. These make a salad very acidic and can change the pH of your mouth from alkaline, which is good for your teeth and gums, to acidic, which puts your smile at risk for erosion and decay.

Last but not least is diet soda. You might be cutting down on the calories but you are still putting your teeth at risk for decay. Though calories are reduced, the acid is not.

You do not need to eliminate any of these foods from your diet. Simply alter what you do after eating these foods to decrease the amount of acid your teeth are exposed to.

During your next visit to our office in our Jacksonville, FL office, we can discuss your diet. We may recommend using certain products to fortify your teeth or change the way you routinely care for your teeth.

Please enjoy the wonderful whole foods that are great for a healthy waistline. A healthy waistline and a healthy smile have a positive influence on your general health. A healthier you is a happier you. The happier you are, the more you smile. Keep your smile brilliant and beautiful with the care your teeth deserve at the practice of Dr. Richard Mullens.

Choose Chocolate on Valentine's Day

February 12th, 2015

From a student handing out sweets for her classmates to an older married couple exchanging boxes of candy, Valentine’s Day is the time of year when people like to show affection by gifting sugary treats to their loved ones. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of Valentine’s Day candy, you can celebrate the holiday in a healthier way by making dark chocolate your confection of choice.

Contribute to Your Health

According to the Cleveland Clinic, studies have shown that the cocoa beans used to make chocolate contain flavonoids, which can help protect the body against damage from various toxins. Flavonoids may also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and the brain. Dark chocolates typically contain a higher amount of flavonoids than other types, making them a great choice for chocolate lovers. However, you should keep in mind that many companies produce chocolate that is so heavily processed that the flavonoids are largely eliminated. Your best bet is to look for high-quality dark chocolates and cocoa powders that have undergone minimal processing.

Protect Against Cavities

If you think there’s no way candy could ever be beneficial for your teeth, think again. The Texas A&M Health Science Center has reported that the tannins present in cocoa beans may actually help prevent cavities by interfering with bacteria’s harmful interaction with teeth. Just like with flavonoids, tannins have been found to be present more often in dark chocolates, rather than milk chocolates, giving you another great reason to choose the richer, sweet varieties.

Avoid a Sticky Situation

One more benefit of choosing chocolate over other candies is that it is less likely to get stuck in the crevices and spaces between teeth. Gooey sweets like taffy can stay lodged in the mouth for longer periods of time, putting you at a greater risk for developing cavities. When you choose your chocolate, be sure to avoid types that also contain sticky ingredients like caramel or marshmallow, and instead opt for the plain varieties.

Remember that the health benefits you can receive from dark chocolate are largely based on eating the candy in moderation. With that being said, it’s easy to make this delicious and health conscious switch when you’re out shopping for your sweetheart, friends, loved ones, and yourself. Have fun satisfying your sweet tooth this year and Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at our office!

What is gum disease?

February 5th, 2015

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gum tissues, and is something seen all too often by Dr. Richard Mullens. Extending from inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) to more serious infections and complications (periodontitis), there is a wide range of gum disease severity.

Not only does gum disease affect the health of your mouth and teeth, but according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, it can affect your general health as well. This is because an infection in the mouth as a result of gum disease can travel to other parts of your body through the bloodstream. Gum disease is also a risk factor for heart disease, and can play a role in blood sugar levels.

Causes and Risk Factors

Gum disease is essentially caused by the build-up of bacteria in your mouth. If you brush and floss every day, this bacteria is washed away, but if not, it turns into plaque. If left unchecked, this plaque buildup can lead to gum disease.

Some of the common risk factors for gum disease include not taking good care of your teeth, failing to have one’s teeth cleaned every six months, experiencing hormonal changes, smoking cigarettes, developing diabetes, being genetically exposed to gum disease, or taking certain types of medications.

Gingivitis versus Periodontitis

There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Both are bad for you, but gingivitis is less severe. It is typically the first stage, and involves inflammation of the gums from plaque and tartar on the teeth. If your gums are swollen and bleed, this is a sign of gingivitis.

Periodontitis, a more severe case of gum disease, occurs when your gums pull away from the teeth and pockets form. These pockets are a concern because they can harbor infection.

Treatments for Gum Disease

Treatments for gum disease depend on the cause and severity. Deep cleaning to remove the plaque underneath the gum line – called root scaling and planing – is one of the most common treatments for gum disease. Antibiotics placed under the gums to rid you of an infection or reduce the inflammation may also be advised. In some cases, surgical procedures, including flap surgery and bone and tissue grafts, are needed.

If you have bleeding or swollen gums, pockets between your gums and teeth, pain, or other issues, you might have gum disease. Visit our office for an exam and learn the best course of action.

When should my child start using toothpaste and how much should I use?

January 29th, 2015

As a parent, it is your job to instill good dental habits in your kids, and this starts even earlier than you might realize. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry responds to the “when to start” question with a succinct “The sooner the better!”

From the time your baby is born, you should make sure that your child’s gums are regularly cleaned using water and a toothbrush made for infants. Once the first tooth erupts, you should visit the pediatric dentist for the first time. Dr. Richard Mullens and our staff often recommend that if your child is a year old, but has yet to get the first tooth, you should bring your son or daughter to our Jacksonville, FL office for his or her initial dental care appointment.

Once your child’s teeth start to appear, you can begin brushing two times per day, using fluoride toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush made specifically for your child’s age group, and one with has soft bristles.

Only a small smear of toothpaste is needed if your child is under two years old. Once the child celebrates his or her second birthday, you can use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Continue this practice until your child is five.

Of course, it is important that you monitor your child’s tooth brushing closely to help educate about proper techniques. Some young children might try to eat or swallow toothpaste, and this needs to be strongly discouraged. Be sure to teach proper rinsing and spitting behavior to round out your child’s early childhood tooth-care regimen.

For young kids, tooth brushing can be made into a fun event, and you can find a multitude of special toothbrushes that appeal to kids. There are even uniquely flavored and colored toothpastes that might encourage your child to get into the brushing game!

Ways to Make Brushing Fun for Your Child

January 22nd, 2015

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should visit a dentist, like Dr. Richard Mullens, when his or her first tooth pops through the gum, or by time they are one year old.

Children do not always want to brush their teeth. In fact, the average child has three cavities by the time they reach their third birthday. However, if you make brushing fun for them, they will look forward to it, and develop a lifelong habit of good oral hygiene.

How to Make Brushing Fun

  • Let them pick out their own toothbrush, like one with their favorite cartoon character.
  • Allow your child to choose their own special toothpaste, as long as it adheres to AAPD guidelines for safety.
  • Brush to a fun song that is two to three minutes long. When the music stops they are done brushing.
  • Brush your teeth with them. Make it a family affair!
  • Toddlers may be afraid of having their teeth brushed or brushing them by themselves. Allow them watch as you brush your teeth; this will help them to see that brushing their own teeth will not hurt them.
  • Reward systems are great incentives for children, just don’t overdo it. You’re trying to instill good brushing habits, not simply reward them for something they need to do.
  • Try an app on your phone; you’ll be surprised how many there are and how much fun your child will have using them.
  • It’s important to make sure every tooth gets brushed, so as you child brushes their teeth, count them. Then when they are finished ask them how many teeth they have. You can switch it up a little by giving each tooth a silly name or make up a short rhyme about each tooth as your child brushes.
  • Use educational tools, such as the movie “The Adventures of Timmy the Tooth.”
  • Read books to your child about brushing their teeth and good oral hygiene.

All you need is a little imagination to help your child learn to love brushing their teeth!

Why Baby Teeth Matter

January 15th, 2015

The primary teeth are the initial teeth that erupt from a child’s gums in the first few years of childhood. There are a total of 20 primary teeth, most of which will have appeared no later than age three. Because they are only temporary, some parents believe they are less important than the permanent teeth that will emerge around age five or six. However, primary teeth hold a special significance and are important for a child’s long-term oral health.

Function and importance of baby teeth

Baby teeth have several basic functions. Decay can interfere with these functions, and potentially lead to life-long complications. For example, severe tooth decay that causes tooth loss during childhood, perhaps due to sleeping with a bottle at night, can obstruct a child’s speech development. It can also hinder his or her ability to sufficiently chew food.

The primary teeth also serve as place-holders for the permanent teeth. When a primary tooth falls out or must be removed before its time, surrounding teeth may shift into the space the tooth once held. This can cause orthodontic complications once the permanent teeth begin to erupt, which can lead to serious tooth alignment problems and call for extensive orthodontic treatment.

Caring for baby teeth

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office will tell you it is never too early to begin caring for your child’s teeth. Baby teeth require the same care and attention that permanent teeth do. The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist as soon as the teeth begin to erupt from the gums. Early childhood dental visits usually include examinations, cleanings, fluoride treatments, and hygiene education for parents. It is also important to adopt an oral care routine at home that includes daily brushing, flossing, and dietary modifications that support a lifetime of good oral health.

To learn more about baby teeh, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens for your little one, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Making Dentistry More Comfortable with the Wand® STA

January 8th, 2015

We’re proud to have adopted the Wand Single Tooth Anesthesia (STA) system. The Wand STA uses a computer interface to deliver anesthetic to a small area of your mouth. We can target only the tooth, nerves, or gums where you need dental care. The Wand STA system leaves the rest of your teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks feeling normal.

The benefits for you: fewer uncomfortable side-effects from anesthesia, like drooling, mumbling, and loss of feeling in your cheeks. In addition, you’ll be able to eat and drink (and taste your meal!) soon after the procedure. You get all the benefits of anesthesia, though, including reduced pain and inflammation during a procedure.

The biggest benefit of the Wand STA system is its precision. Dr. Richard Mullens can choose the area to target and how much anesthetic is needed. The computer-controlled Wand STA system helps control the amount of anesthetic so that only the targeted area is numbed. By providing a slow, steady stream of anesthetic, the system avoids causing the stinging sensation that can come with injections.

The Wand STA represents a big step forward in reducing the anxiety and pain associated with dental anesthesia. Many patients tell us the Wand STA injections were completely painless. In fact, it’s not unusual for a patient to ask when the process will start – even though it has already begun!

On top of that, since the Wand STA system delivers the anesthetic agent to a precise area, there’s no more waiting in the dentist chair for the numbness to set in.

The Wand STA can help patients with dental anxiety, too. For some, the thought of a needle entering the mouth causes great discomfort. If that describes you, rest assured that the Wand STA provides a non-threatening and more comfortable experience at our Jacksonville, FL office.

New Year's Day Around the World

January 1st, 2015

New Year’s Day marks the beginning of the calendar year in most parts of the world. The holiday is celebrated on January 1st of each year. Customs and celebrations vary by country, religion, and even individual desires. Whether celebrated quietly or with gusto, the day brings the start of new opportunities for those that observe it.

United States and Canada

In both the US and Canada, celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve. At midnight on January 1st the New Year is welcomed with bells, horns, whistles, and other noisemakers. Fireworks are often part of the celebrations. In New York City, Times Square comes alive with revelers. In Toronto, there are large celebrations which may feature concerts, late-night partying, sporting events, and fireworks, with free public transit service during peak party times. Many individuals in North America greet the year by making resolutions for improvements in their lives.

China

In China, many people celebrate two forms of a new year. They may observe January 1st, but the traditional Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar. Parades with paper lanterns and dragons made from silk are a significant part of the festivities. Legends say that the dragon spends most of its time in hibernation so fireworks are used to keep the dragon awake.

Jewish Celebration

Jewish New Year’s observances begin with Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the New Year, and end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This ten-day celebration is held in September or October, based on the Hebrew calendar. The New Year is not marked as much with loud celebrations as with personal insight to mend wrongs and resolve to better oneself.

Other countries and cultures also have different dates for New Year’s Day observances:

  • Vietnam observes the New Year in February
  • In Iran, the day is celebrated on March 21st
  • Islamic cultures often observe the tenth day of the month of Muharram
  • Russian Orthodox observers use the Julian calendar and celebrate on January 14th
  • Buddhist celebrations are held from April 13th through 15th

If you observe New Year’s Day by making healthy resolutions, include dental care in your plans with Dr. Richard Mullens. The health of your teeth and gums contributes to your overall health. Caring for your mouth now can prevent many dental problems later in life. our office wishes you a healthy, prosperous, and happy New Year!

What is a pediatric dentist?

December 25th, 2014

Our team at our office hears this question a lot. According to our friends at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), pediatric dentistry is “an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral healthcare for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special healthcare needs.”

Pediatric dentists, such as Dr. Richard Mullens, are dedicated to the oral health of our young patients from infancy through their teen years. Our team at our office has the experience and qualifications to care for your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth throughout his or her various stages of childhood.

Pediatric dentists complete at least four years of dental school, including an additional two additional years of residency training in dentistry for infants, children, teens, and children with special needs.

At our office, we know children are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. And that is why Dr. Richard Mullens and our team know how to examine and treat children in ways that make them relaxed and comfortable.

To learn more about pediatric dentistry, or to schedule your child's next visit at our Jacksonville, FL office, please give us a call today!

The Evolution of the Toothbrush

December 18th, 2014

Oral hygiene has always been an important part of maintaining overall health. For thousands of years, humans have found ways to keep their teeth and mouths clean. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), “early forms of the toothbrush have existed for nearly 5,000 years.” But what exactly did the first toothbrush look like?

Toothbrush Timeline

With help from The Library of Congress, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team have compiled a timeline with some interesting details about the evolution of the toothbrush:

  • 3000 BC – Perhaps the earliest form of the toothbrush, the “chew stick” was used by Ancient civilizations. People would rub this thin twig with a frayed end against their teeth to remove food and plaque.
  • 1498 – The bristle toothbrush was invented in China and had many similarities to the toothbrushes used today. These devices were made by attaching the stiff, coarse hairs from the back of a hog’s neck to handles that were typically made from bone or bamboo.
  • 1938 – Signaling the end of the boar bristle, Dupont de Nemours introduced nylon bristles, and Americans welcomed Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush, the first nylon toothbrush.
  • 1960 – The Squibb Company introduced Broxodent, one of the first electric toothbrushes, to the American market.

Toothbrushes Today

Today, there are many brands of toothbrushes that often advertise different benefits. The variety of options may seem overwhelming, but the most important thing is for you to find a toothbrush that you like and find easy to use.

The ADA recommends that you choose a toothbrush that fits comfortably and allows you to effectively reach all areas of your mouth. Whether you decide to use a manual or a powered toothbrush, make sure that you thoroughly clean all surfaces of your teeth twice a day.

Society has come a long way since the days of the chew stick, but one thing that remains the same is the importance of consistent and effective personal oral hygiene.

How Our Office Makes Your Child’s Visit Anxiety-Free

December 11th, 2014

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office specialize in pediatric dentistry, and we understand that children can be frightened of things they do not understand. This anxiety is often heightened by an unpleasant dental experience or stories they hear from classmates. We have many methods at our Jacksonville, FL office to make your child’s dental visit pleasant and anxiety-free.

Listening

The first thing Dr. Richard Mullens and our team do is talk to your child, listen to any concerns he or she may have, and take the time to explain the dental work that will be done. Often children will lose their fears by simply understanding what is happening and why. In addition, you are welcome to be in the room with your child during exams and treatments. When a child is able to see that the parent is relaxed, this is more conducive to the child’s relaxation.

Relaxation

When you arrive at our office, let your child to play with the toys we provide. This starts the visit in a positive manner. Taking your child’s mind off the exam is useful. While your child is undergoing an examination or procedure, listening to music or watching a video can support a sense of relaxation. When children understand that we care, their anxiety levels are reduced.

Sedation

Nitrous oxide is a sedation technique commonly used to reduce anxiety and alleviate any pain. It is beneficial partly because the effects wear off quickly. Topical pain relievers can also be useful for children with sensitive teeth, and this will eliminate discomfort.

Deeper sedation is useful for complex dental issues, extreme anxiety, or a fear of needles. A liquid or tablet sedative can be given before your child’s appointment. This type of sedation is also helpful for children with a fear of the masks used for nitrous oxide.

We welcome you and your child to discuss any concerns that you have regarding his or her dental appointment. We want your child to be free from anxiety about visiting Dr. Richard Mullens. The earlier your child’s fears are addressed, the less likely the fear will carry into adulthood.

Kids and Teeth Grinding

December 4th, 2014

Grind, grind, grind… if your little one happens to be a teeth grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Teeth grinding, or what Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office also call bruxism, is common in children. In fact, three out of ten kids grind or clench their teeth, usually in response to stress, jaw growth, malocclusion, losing teeth, or other discomforts, such as allergies. Kids typically outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach their teenage years.

Many kids who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they’re doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw, facial, neck, or shoulder pain. In most cases, if it hadn’t been for a parent or sibling telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed.

There are children, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications, from cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw. Dr. Richard Mullens will tell you that teeth grinding is not something to take lightly. Teeth grinding can have serious consequences that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth fractures and damage to the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ.

The first step in helping your child recover from teeth grinding is noticing and diagnosing the problem. Symptoms of teeth grinding typically include:

  • Grinding noises when your child is sleeping
  • Complaints of tightness or pain in the jaw
  • Complaints of headaches, earaches, or facial pain
  • Complaints of pain when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth

If you suspect your child is a teeth grinder, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team will be able to help. Please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office! We look forward to treating your child!

Thanksgiving Trivia

November 27th, 2014

At our office we love learning trivia and interesting facts about Thanksgiving! This year, Dr. Richard Mullens wanted to share some trivia that might help you feel a bit smarter at the holiday dinner table and help create some great conversation with friends and family.

The Turkey

There is no historical evidence that turkey was eaten at the first Thanksgiving dinner. It was a three-day party shared by the Wamponoag Indians and the pilgrims in 1621. Historians say they likely ate venison and seafood.

According to National Geographic, the dinner at the Plymouth colony was in October and included about 50 English colonists and 90 American Indian men. The first Thanksgiving dinner could have included corn, geese, and pumpkin.

Today, turkey is the meat of choice. According to the National Turkey Association, about 690 million pounds of turkey are consumed during Thanksgiving, or about 46 million turkeys.

The Side Dishes

The green bean casserole became popular about 50 years ago. Created by the Campbell Soup Company, it remains a popular side dish. According to Campbell’s, it was developed when the company was creating an annual holiday cookbook. The company now sells about $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup each year, which is a major part of the recipe.

While there were likely plenty of cranberries for the pilgrims and Indians to enjoy, sugar was a luxury. What we know today as cranberry sauce was not around in those early Thanksgiving days. About 750 million pounds of cranberries are produced each year in the US, with about 30 percent consumed on Thanksgiving.

The Parade

Since Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until Lincoln declared it in 1863, the annual parades were not yearly events until much later. The biggest parade that continues to draw crowds is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Beginning in 1924 with about 400 employees, they marched from Convent Avenue to 145th Street in New York City. Famous for the huge hot-air balloons today, it was actually live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo that were the stars of the show then.

However you choose to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, we wish you a safe, happy and healthy holiday with those you love.

Oral Health Problems: An indicator of overall health problems?

November 20th, 2014

If you are like many people, you might think of your oral health as separate from your overall health. After all, most dental coverage plans are distinct from health care coverage. However, your oral health goes far beyond being able to chew nutritious and enjoyable foods. Oral health problems may be an indicator of a variety of other health problems.

Links between Oral Health and Overall Health

In the late 1980s, researchers noticed a trend among patients who had recently suffered from heart attacks. As the Journal of the American Dental Association reported, they observed that these patients were more likely to have dental caries or cavities, periodontitis or inflammation around the tooth, and other forms of gum disease. Later studies found similar results, and dentists and doctors now recognize poor oral health as a risk factor for a variety of heart conditions, such as heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and coronary heart disease.

There are even more links between oral health problems and overall health problems. Some individuals do not find out that they have Type 2 diabetes until a dentist sees that they have periodontitis. If you have diabetes, worsening periodontitis can indicate that your diabetes is not under control.

Poor oral health is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, poor oral health puts you at higher risk for respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, because harmful pathogens can enter your body through your mouth.

Take Care of Your Teeth

Keeping your teeth healthy remains important, especially as you grow older. Older adults are more prone to dental caries and other oral health problems, as well as to chronic diseases. While taking care of your oral health might not prevent a specific disease, a healthy mouth is a significant factor in your overall health.

You can take care of your teeth by continuing to brush twice a day and floss every day. Avoid consuming too many sugary and starchy foods, and drink water after each meal or snack to rinse your teeth. See Dr. Richard Mullens for regular checkups, and contact our office if you have any concerns about your teeth or gums.

What happens during my hygiene appointment?

November 13th, 2014

Regular visits to the dentist are important for people of all ages. Seeing Dr. Richard Mullens as recommended provides preventive care for oral diseases. If a disease is already present, early detection can prevent hefty dental bills and further damage to the teeth and gums. Once you have made the decision to visit our office, you may ask yourself, “What happens during my hygiene appointment?”

Preparation

Arrive at your appointment a few minutes early and bring along any insurance cards or medical information. While it may seem irrelevant, a full medical history can be important, since certain conditions include symptoms that occur inside the mouth.

Initial appointment

In some offices, the first appointment is a screening appointment, during which a dental hygienist will go over your medical and dental history with you, assess the condition of your teeth and gums, then schedule a future appointment to complete the cleaning and any other treatments you may need. In other offices, the screening and cleaning will be done over the same appointment. The dental hygienist may:

  • Count your teeth
  • Clean your teeth by using a small tool to scrape them in order to remove plaque
  • Brush and floss your teeth
  • Apply a fluoride treatment using foam that sits on your teeth within a tooth mold, or a gel that can be “painted” on with a small brush
  • Inspect your teeth for cavities or signs of decay
  • Administer oral X-rays. You will be covered with a special blanket to protect your body and then given a small piece of plastic on which to bite.

Seeing the dentist

After the dental hygienist completes his or her portion of the appointment, the dentist will usually come in and inspect your teeth. After an initial inspection, the dentist may:

  • Perform a quick tooth count as well as a more thorough inspection, looking for signs of decay in and around the teeth
  • Use a small tool called a “probe” in order to check for signs of gum disease around the base of your teeth
  • Visually inspect the skin around your mouth, called the “mucosa”

If you need any further dental work completed, you will usually be required to make an additional appointment. To learn more about hygiene visits, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

How Missing Teeth Can Affect Your Health

November 6th, 2014

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, an estimated three out of four Americans suffer from gum disease. In milder cases, the disease is called gingivitis. More severe cases are called periodontitis. Despite the prevalence of periodontal disease (and it is very common), only three percent of people who suffer from periodontal disease get treatment for it. Gum disease has been linked to other serious diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Periodontal Disease Is Common Among Americans

The Journal of Dental Research published the findings of a joint study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). The study compared the full periodontal exam that participants received for this study against partial periodontal exams participants received for an older study.

The results show the rate of periodontal disease today could be as much as 50 percent higher than earlier estimated. Shockingly, this means that about twice as many Americans as previously believed suffer from gum disease – either moderate or severe.

The Link between Chronic Illness and Periodontal Disease

Many people who have chronic medical problems don’t have dental insurance, or the money to spend on dental care. Not surprisingly, this and a lack of understanding about proper oral hygiene leads to situations in which an initially minor problem turns into something far more severe, and probably preventable.

Gum diseases and cavities are caused by infections. When you get a cavity, the infection develops in the tooth itself. You may never feel anything, so unless you get regular, twice-a-year dental exams, you might not know there is a problem.

With gum disease, the infection occurs in the bones and tissues that form the gums and support the teeth. The tissues that surround teeth, and the bones that lie below the gums, are necessary to hold your teeth in. When those aren’t strong enough to support your teeth, you lose them.

Tooth loss has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and an increased risk for kidney disease. Gum disease and severe infections in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body faster than people realize. A healthy mouth is alkaline. It’s vital for you to maintain an alkaline pH to keep harmful bacteria away.

When people eat, their pH changes, and the environment inside the mouth becomes more acidic. Since the typical American diet is very acidic, harmful bacteria thrive in the mouth. Typical foods include breads, grains, starches, and sweets – the foods people love the most. Since it isn’t always possible for people to brush after every meal, the mouth pH remains acidic, and the acid contributes to faster tooth erosion.

What does all this mean for you? The health of your mouth is more important than you realize. Get those regular dental exams, and make sure that you and your family keep to a regular routine of brushing and flossing. Good oral hygiene can help prevent periodontal disease, and that will lower your risk of tooth loss.

The Intriguing History of Halloween

October 27th, 2014

Halloween is fast approaching, and Dr. Richard Mullens wanted to be sure to wish our patients a happy day, no matter how you might celebrate this holiday. The Halloween that is familiar to most people today bears little resemblance to the original Halloween; back in the "old days" it wasn't even called Halloween!

Festival of the Dead

Halloween started out as a Celtic festival of the dead that honored departed loved ones and signified a change in the cycle of the seasons. The Celtic people viewed Halloween, then called "Samhain," as a very special day – almost like our New Years day in fact, as their new calendar year began on November 1st. Samhain was the last day of autumn, so it was the time to harvest the last of the season's crops, store food away for winter, and situate livestock comfortably for the upcoming cold weather. The Celts believed that during this day, the last day of winter, the veil between this world and the spirit world is the thinnest, and that the living could communicate with departed loved ones most effectively on Samhain due to this.

Modern Halloween

Halloween as we know it today started because Christian missionaries were working to convert the Celtic people to Christianity. The Celts believed in religious concepts that were not supported by the Christian church, and these practices, which stemmed from Druidism, were perceived by the Christian church as being "devil worship" and dangerous.

When Pope Gregory the First instructed his missionaries to work at converting the Pagan people, he told them to try to incorporate some of the Pagan practices into Christian practices in a limited way. This meant that November 1st became "All Saints Day," which allowed Pagan people to still celebrate a beloved holiday without violating Christian beliefs.

Today, Halloween has evolved into a day devoted purely to fun, candy, and kids. What a change from its origins! We encourage all of our patients to have fun during the holiday, but be safe with the treats. Consider giving apples or fruit roll-ups to the kids instead of candy that is potentially damaging to the teeth and gums.

Remind kids to limit their candy and brush after eating it! Sweets can cause major tooth decay and aggrivate gum disease, so to avoid extra visits to our Jacksonville, FL office, make your Halloween a safe one!

What exactly is tinnitus?

October 20th, 2014

It’s estimated that about one in every five people is affected by tinnitus, which is a ringing or noise in the ears. But tinnitus isn’t a condition in itself; it’s actually the symptom of an underlying condition. Some of these underlying conditions could be hearing loss, injury to the ear, or some sort of circulatory disorder.

Another common cause if tinnitus is a dental injury or dental issue, whether it involves the jaw or the temporomandibular joint, better known as the TMJ. “Somatic tinnitus” is the term given to the version that is attributable to injuries to the head or neck area. Symptoms of somatic tinnitus may include noticeable fluctuations in sound volume, intermittency, headaches, memory loss or increased forgetfulness, and an increased likelihood of being depressed or sad.

Dr. Richard Mullens will tell you tinnitus usually isn’t serious and is more common in older populations. For that reason, many people won’t even seek an answer to what’s causing it. But people can also experience more severe cases of tinnitus that can affect a person’s ability to complete everyday activities, which has a larger impact on their lives. For people facing these more severe cases of tinnitus, treatment may be necessary to increase their quality of life. It’s also worth noting that tinnitus seems to worsen with age, so while symptoms might not be a problem one year, they may be more significant and distracting the next.

If you have tinnitus that is caused by the misalignment of the TMJ or an injury to the mouth, that’s a condition that can be corrected by Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office. We will work to relieve your symptoms by realigning the jaw or adjusting your bite with routine dental care. Sometimes we won’t even have to go this far, because an oral infection or gum infection may be causing your problem. We might also recommend other life changes, such as dietary adjustments and medication.

If you're experiencing tinnitus-like symptoms and have ruled out various other reasons for it, contact our Jacksonville, FL office today. Dr. Richard Mullens and our team will carefully analyze your situation and put you on a treatment course so that you can kick the symptoms for good.

Who’s afraid of the dentist?

October 13th, 2014

Is the sound of a drill enough to make your child flinch or cringe? Does he or she worry about the twice-yearly dental checkup at our office? Trust us when we say your child is not alone!

To help eliminate that distress, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team put together five steps to help your child overcome his or her dental anxiety when visiting our office.

1. Ask your child what they’re most afraid of. Is it the sound of the drill? Do you have needle phobia? Has your child been traumatized by previous dental visits? Have children write down their fears, one by one, and talk about them.

2. Don’t wait. The more frequently your child visits our office, the less work will need to be done at any given visit. Simply having Dr. Richard Mullens professionally clean your child’s teeth twice a year prevents many, if not most, problems down the road.

3. Bring a distraction such as music to your child’s appointment. Just plug in those earphones, have your child close his or her eyes, and get lost in the music. Listening to tunes can also be a pain killer.

4. Remind your child to unwind. Inhaling slowly and counting to five helps. Encourage children to hold their breath for ten seconds, then exhale slowly to the count of eight, and repeat as needed. It’s easier if they’re not focused on the work going on inside their mouth.

5. Ask us. Before any procedure your child undergoes, we encourage you to ask Dr. Richard Mullens or one of our assistants why we’re using the tools we’re using. Ask us what we’re doing during your child’s procedure, what the tool is used for, and how it benefits your child. Also, please ask about anti-anxiety medications we may prescribe to help your child relax during his or her appointment.

Remember, our team at our office are health care professionals who strive to improve your child’s oral health, and will do all we can to ensure a trauma- and pain-free experience during his or her visit!

We hope these tips help! For more on pediatric dental anxieties, ask us during your next visit to our Jacksonville, FL office! Or, ask us below or on Facebook!

What's on your fall reading list?

October 6th, 2014

How better to spend the fall months than inside by the fireplace with a warm cup of cider and a book in hand? Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office encourage you to warm up your mind this fall season with a few great books. Sure it may be easy to put off reading when balancing a hectic schedule, but reading is vital to brain development. Besides, reading is always a blast!

This week, we thought we’d ask what you or your child are reading this fall. Do you have any suggestions for must-read books this year? Out of ideas for great fall reads? Ask us for suggestions, and we would be happy to provide a few. You may also ask a local librarian here in Jacksonville, FL for some ideas.

Happy reading! Be sure to share with us your fall picks or your all-time favorites below or on our Facebook page!

How do you accommodate a child with special needs?

September 29th, 2014

Providing dental care for patients with special needs can be a challenge at times, both for the dentist and the family of the individual. Fortunately, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office have the experience needed to provide optimal care for your special-needs child. Here are just a few of the ways our office works to help those who need a little extra care.

Assistance with at-home dental health care

We understand that sometimes at-home dental care can be extremely difficult for those with special needs. Individuals with physical difficulties, which may prevent them from holding the toothbrush, and those with developmental issues, who may have difficulty understanding the importance of dental hygiene, need extra attention with regard to home hygiene care. Our team at our office can provide support and education to ensure your child will achieve and maintain a healthy smile. For example, devising improvised toothbrushes to help patients get a properly grip, creating a specialized meal plan, and establishing a more frequent office visitation schedule to monitor overall dental health are all areas where our office is happy to help.

Coordinating office care

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team understand that sometimes special-needs patients feel anxiety when it comes to receiving dental care. In many cases, reliably seeing the same dental health professionals can help to promote a relationship and soothe the patient. We encourage special-needs patients to make appointments at the optimal time of day for them to help everything go smoothly as well. We also encourage preparing your child in advance of the appointment so he or she is not surprised in the office. In certain situations, Dr. Richard Mullens may also recommend sedation dentistry. Occasionally, special-needs patients are too overwhelmed by the thought of dental care and exams are best performed with the support of light sedation.

Accommodating physical needs

We also understand that special needs patients sometimes need physical accommodations. Two of the more common examples we face are patients in wheelchairs who need access to the office. We are fully compliant with all accessibility regulations to make sure our patients receive the care they need. Other patients need physical props for their mouth to help keep it open if they are physically unable to do so.

Dental care for patients with special needs requires knowledge and experience of limitations and how to address them. In our Jacksonville, FL office, you will find an accommodating staff ready to help, so your child can receive optimal dental care.

Snacks for Healthy Teeth

September 22nd, 2014

Concerned parents often ask Dr. Richard Mullens about which kinds of snacks are best for a child's teeth. While most know that candy isn't always the best choice, many parents are confused about which kinds of after-school snacks can actually be beneficial for teeth. Left to their own devices, children might pick the sugary snack that comes in colorful packaging. There are, however, choices that are much better for your child's teeth.

Go Natural

The foods that are best for your children's teeth are also the best for their overall health. Choosing whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, is always the best option for snacks. Try sticks of celery and let your kids dip it into all-natural peanut butter, or a juicy and crunchy apple cut into wedges.

Lean Proteins

Lean protein, such as chicken breast, fish, turkey, and lean cuts of pork also make good snacking options. For the best overall health, avoid giving your child a lot of lunch meats, because such products are often higher in sodium. However, these proteins are also low in sugar, which is always a preferable choice when it comes to teeth.

Avoid Packaged Foods

Sugars are unhealthy partly because they stick more readily to the surface of the teeth. Even foods that appear to be healthy, such as many brands of granola bars, can in fact be loaded with hidden sugars. Sugar can also be found in higher concentrations in dried fruit, honey, and syrups. The rule is that if a foodstuff has been altered in any way from its original state then there are perhaps better choices.

Beverages

Drinks are another murky area. Parents often presume that fruit juices are an acceptable beverage when in reality many of them are loaded with excessive sugar as well. The best beverages for your child's teeth are water and low-fat milk. Milk has the added benefit of containing calcium, which is highly beneficial for the bone structure that supports the teeth.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but it is also a great snack to keep teeth healthy. The next time your children are looking for an after-school snack, guide them toward healthier, low-sugar options that are beneficial to their overall health and their teeth.

Pacifiers and Your Child's Oral Health

September 15th, 2014

Children are born with a natural sucking reflex. In fact, sonogram images from the womb often reveal an unborn baby practicing by sucking on his or her fingers or thumb. Not only does sucking aid in your baby’s ability to acquire food and nutrients, but it is also a security and possible analgesic outside of meal times.

Though it is both normal and beneficial for parents to soothe their children with pacifiers during infancy, long-term use could interfere with oral health and development. Most children will stop using a pacifier on their own. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends halting pacifier use after age three. Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use after this time can cause the upper front teeth to begin to lean outward. It can also cause new teeth to erupt crookedly, and it can negatively affect jaw alignment.

If your child is not showing signs of self-weaning by age two, you may begin the process by limiting pacifier usage to specific times, such as nap time or when getting vaccinations. Offer an alternative security item, such as a blanket, and be sure to praise your child when he or she chooses the blanket over the pacifier.

Tips

  • Never under any circumstances should you dip your baby’s pacifier in something sweet. Though it is a tempting way of encouraging your child to take a pacifier when crying, it can also lead to early childhood tooth decay.
  • If your child has not discontinued pacifier use by age three, talk with Dr. Richard Mullens about behavioral modifications or appliances that can help your child wean.
  • Never use negative reinforcement to discourage pacifier use. Punishment for pacifier use is not effective for changing your child’s habits.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s pacifier usage or which types of pacifiers are best for your child’s oral health, please give our team at our office a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Is there really a link between my mouth and heart?

September 8th, 2014

Yes, indeed! While brushing, flossing, and regular visits to our office are all key to maintaining a healthy smile and mouth, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team want you to know the state of your oral health has a significant effect on your overall health.

Our mouths are full of bacteria—some good, and some harmful. Some types of bad bacteria can cause cavities, gingivitis and even periodontal (gum) disease. Without proper oral care and hygiene, these harmful types of bacteria are capable of entering your blood stream through inflamed gums, when inhaled through the mouth or through saliva.

Gum disease, in turn, has been linked to a number of health problems, researchers have found. These include:

  • Heart disease: Gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease. Gum disease also is believed to worsen existing heart disease.
  • Stroke: Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke caused by blocked arteries.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes and periodontal disease may be more likely to have trouble controlling their blood sugar than diabetics with healthy gums.
  • Premature birth: Women who suffer from gum disease during pregnancy may be more likely deliver their baby early, and it is likely her infant may be of low birth weight.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office are experts in identifying and treating periodontal disease. Give us a call today at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office to schedule an appointment to improve your oral health and your overall health, too!

Happy Labor Day!

September 1st, 2014

Labor Day is upon us, and that means the non-official end to summer. Before the kids head back to school and temperatures start to cool down, this is your last chance to barbeque in the beautiful Jacksonville, FL community, head to the lake, and wear your favorite pair of white pants.

About Labor Day

Each year, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is the one day of year Americans celebrate their achievements in work, which the US Department of Labor says has contributed to prosperity and well-being of America as a whole. Americans have been celebrating Labor Day since the 1880s, and today it is an official federal holiday.

Interesting Facts About Labor Day

  • Every year, more than 30 million Americans travel over Labor Day weekend.
  • Canada was the first to celebrate Labor Day, and the US soon followed.
  • President Cleveland made Labor Day and official US holiday in 1894.
  • Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and NCAA sports seasons for fans.
  • Labor Day marks the end of hot dog season, when Americans consume seven billion hot dogs.

Thanks for being a valued patient of our dental office. Our staff would like to wish you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. Enjoy your time off!

Can children be at risk for developing periodontal disease?

August 25th, 2014

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team hear this question a lot. While many people believe periodontal disease is an adult problem, studies have indicated that periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, as well as other serious infections such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are prevalent among kids and adolescents. First, let’s identify the differences between gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease in which only your child’s gums are affected. Characterized by swollen and red gums that bleed easily, gingivitis causes an inflammation of the gums, and is the first stage and mildest form of periodontal disease. The good news is that gingivitis is often reversible. Treatment for gingivitis includes having your child come in for a professional teeth cleaning. It also includes daily brushing, which will help eliminate plaque from the surfaces of your child’s teeth. Your child should also get in the habit of flossing daily to remove plaque and food particles wedged in the crevices between his or her teeth.

Periodontitis

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease that can not only damage your child’s gum tissue, but also destroy the underlying bone which supports the teeth. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. In some cases, the bacteria from the ensuing infection may also be distributed to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums, periodontal ligament, and bone that surround and support your child’s teeth. Periodontal disease causes gums to become red, swollen, and tender, and can even cause the gums to recede (pull away) from the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.

Having persistent at-home oral care regimen is a critical step in your child’s fight against periodontal disease. But sometimes brushing and flossing are simply not enough. Having your child’s teeth cleaned twice a year, or as recommended, is crucial.

Early diagnosis of gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease can give you and your child peace of mind. If you are concerned your child is suffering from gum disease, we recommend that you give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office. We look forward to working with you and giving your child a smile to last a lifetime!

Wisdom Teeth Emergencies: Causes and treatment

August 18th, 2014

When you think of a dental emergency, you may picture teeth that have fallen out or severe tooth pain. But it is not uncommon for wisdom teeth to develop conditions or problems that require urgent care from Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office. Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt in the late teen years to early 20s. Spacing and crowding problems often cause impaction and infections, which is why many people elect to have their wisdom teeth removed. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain related to your wisdom teeth, call our office to schedule a wisdom teeth consultation.

Perisoronitis and Infections

You may develop perisoronitis if you have a partially-erupted wisdom tooth that has become inflamed. Often, inflammation is caused by food lodged beneath the gum. Here at our office, we can gently search for and remove food debris, as well as clean the affected area and treat it with antibiotics. Do not avoid treatment, however, as untreated perisoronitis can lead to infection, which ultimately places your health at risk.

Crowding and Impaction

When your wisdom teeth erupt, they may cause overcrowding of your teeth, which can have a negative effect on their alignment. This can make it harder for you to clean your teeth properly, and it also increases the chances for developing tooth decay and other oral health problems in the future. For some people, the wisdom teeth never erupt, becoming impacted beneath the gum and causing problems with the neighboring teeth.

If you have an impaction or wisdom tooth crowding, make an appointment with our office soon. We will be happy to evaluate the progress of your wisdom teeth, as well as their effect on the rest of your jaw. Depending on our analysis, we will then discuss your options for treatment and whether extraction might be right for you.

Complications from Wisdom Tooth Extraction

If you have recently had your wisdom teeth extracted, blood clots will have formed in the open sockets the teeth previously occupied. In most cases, the gums heal normally, assuming you follow post-surgical care instructions. However, a small percentage of wisdom tooth extractions do not heal according to plan. If you continue to experience pain or other unusual symptoms following a wisdom tooth extraction, please give us a call. We’ll do everything we can to minimize discomfort and help you heal safely and quickly.

Remember, our team is here to support your dental health in every capacity. We are dedicated to providing excellent service before, during, and after all wisdom tooth procedures, so you can rest assured that your oral health is in good hands.

Healthy Diet for Adolescents

August 11th, 2014

Adolescence is a critical period for oral hygiene. By the teenage years, kids will have lost all their baby teeth and replaced them with permanent teeth. Furthermore, many oral hygiene habits solidified in adolescence carry through to adulthood. Teaching adolescents to follow a healthy diet not only benefits their physical fitness but helps them maintain strong teeth and healthy gums.

Fruits and vegetables

Parents know that eating broccoli is important, but were you aware that it can keep teeth and gums healthy, too? Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office will tell you that eating plenty of crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, celery, apples, and pears, increases your saliva production. Saliva works to brush away bad bacteria that produce dangerous acids that wear away tooth enamel.

It’s also important to avoid acidic foods, which can exacerbate cavities and other dental problems. Although oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, lemons, and berries are healthy, they can also wear away the enamel of your teeth. To be safe, it’s important to brush after each meal or swish with mouthwash to remove excess acid from your mouth.

Sugar-free foods

Many candies and treats are chock-full of sugar, making them dangerous for your child’s dental health. If you have a sweet tooth, fear not: you don’t have to give up the sweet stuff entirely. Whenever possible, opt for sugar-free substitutes rather than regular sugar. For example, chewing sugar-free gum or drinking sugar-free beverages is better for teeth. These sugar substitute molecules don’t wear away enamel, which makes them safer for dental health.

Watch the beverages

Most adolescents have been told that soda will rot your teeth, but you may not realize that other beverages can be just as sugary. Many fruit juices, even those that boast 100% fruit, contain dozens of grams of sugar per serving. Similarly, popular energy drinks pack a sugary punch. When possible, drink water or milk. If your child is craving a hot beverage, turn to tea over hot chocolate or a sugary latte.

Dairy products

Teeth are like any other bones; they rely on calcium and other minerals to stay strong. To help build strong teeth, have your child drink milk or eat other dairy products to get his or her daily calcium. Yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese are good options as well. If your child can’t tolerate dairy, consider calcium-fortified soy milk or orange juice to provide that daily dose of vitamins and minerals.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

The Thumb-Sucking Habit

August 4th, 2014

At our office, we are often asked “should I be concerned with my child’s thumb sucking?” So, our team thought we’d share what our thoughts are on your child sucking his or her thumb.

Infants Who Suck Their Thumbs

As infants begin experimenting with the basic functions of their mouths, from sucking on a bottle to beginning to speak, it is natural for them to suck their thumbs. Parents with young babies who regularly suck their thumbs probably don’t need to feel overly concerned, so long as fingers are kept clean and the habit is kept in check. For most children, the exploratory stage of thumb sucking ends after just a few short years. Problems with thumb sucking occur when infants grow into young children but the habit has not been resolved.

Dangers of Thumb Sucking

One of the main differences between an infant and a child sucking his thumb is the formation of the mouth and teeth. An infant’s mouth is barely beginning to grow and develop, so sucking a thumb might actually help to stimulate the process. For a child with a mouth full of teeth, however, a thumb-sucking habit might cause some serious problems. As a parent, it can be very important to watch your child carefully to make sure the sucking habit is regulated.

As a child grows and develops, baby teeth begin to fall out. A child sucking his or her thumb during the baby teeth stage may not run any great risks. Our team at our office often sees that once a child has developed his or her permanent teeth, the problems with thumb sucking can become more serious. KidsHealth.org states that children who suck their thumbs beyond the age of four or five might increase their risk of developing an overbite, infections, and other dental problems.

What You Can Do To Help

Parents who want to prevent possible problems for their child would be wise to begin preventive care early on. While you don’t need to be overly concerned about an infant sucking a thumb, it might be a good idea to help your toddler break the habit before permanent teeth begin to show.

  • Try to use positive rewards for good behavior instead of negativity or threatening behavior.
  • Talk openly with your child about the potential dangers of a thumb-sucking habit.
  • Help your child find other productive things to do with the hands as a means of distraction. Playing a game of blocks, for example, might be a great diversion.
  • Support and encourage your child while he or she is trying to break the habit.

As children develop, they have many things to learn and to think about. By understanding a few simple facts about thumb sucking, you can help your child develop in a healthy and positive way. If you have any other questions, feel to contact us at our Jacksonville, FL office, or ask Dr. Richard Mullens during your next appointment!

Sealants Protect Your Child’s Teeth from Decay

July 28th, 2014

Sealants provide a thin coating over molars that can be a powerful tool to protect your child’s teeth from decay. This simple and painless solution can be applied in a matter of minutes by our team at our office, forming a protective shield and avoiding costly and painful cavities or other forms of tooth decay later.

The Causes of Tooth Decay

Our mouths are routinely filled with germs and bacteria. Some of these bacteria can be helpful in converting the foods we eat (especially sugars in the food) into acids that our bodies use to break down food. However, when we eat too much sugar, the excess acids can cause cavities and other decay in teeth.

Molars (our chewing teeth) are prime sites for tooth decay because they have rough surfaces with lots of little grooves where small food particles and germs find places to stay for extended periods of time. If you can prevent tooth decay in your child’s teeth now, you may be able to avoid treatments for decaying teeth later in life—costly and painful procedures like crowns and fillings.

Protecting Against Decay

A comprehensive plan for mouth care can protect against tooth decay. This plan should include:

  • Drinking water with fluoride in it or using other fluoride supplements
  • Eating a healthy diet (avoiding excessive sugar)
  • Brushing teeth regularly
  • Applying sealants

On their own, each of these activities is good but does not provide enough protection against decay. Fluoride is best for protecting the smooth surfaces of our front teeth, but may not provide enough of a shield for our rough, uneven back teeth. In addition, toothbrush bristles may not get to all the tiny food particles and germs in our mouths. For these reasons, sealants are the recommended preventive measure for molars in the fight against germs.

Who needs sealants, and when?

The best time to get a sealant is when your child’s adult teeth are just growing in. Between the ages of about five and seven, children grow their first permanent molar teeth, and they grow a second set of permanent molars between the ages of 11 and 14. Sealants placed on these teeth as soon as they grow in will be most effective in preventing tooth decay before it occurs.

If your child still has his or her baby teeth, Dr. Richard Mullens may recommend sealants for teeth that are especially rough or uneven and may be prone to tooth decay. When your child loses his or her baby teeth, we will apply new sealants to the permanent teeth when they grow in. In addition, our team may recommend sealants for adults in special cases; for example, if a previously placed sealant falls out, if you never had sealants put in as a child, or if your teeth are prone to decay and the preventive treatment may help.

Talk to us during your next visit at our Jacksonville, FL office to learn more about how dental sealants can help protect your child’s teeth.

Five Nutrition Tips for Healthy Kids' Smiles

July 21st, 2014

If your child could have it his way, chances are he would eat Lucky Charms for breakfast, a peanut butter and fluff sandwich for lunch, and chicken fingers slathered in ketchup for dinner.

Kids will be kids, and maintaining a healthy diet is often the farthest thing from their minds. Do you remember the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, that folksy wisdom can be applied to oral health, too. Think of it like this: an apple a day keeps the dentist at bay. Here are five nutrition tips Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office wanted to pass along that will give your child a healthy, bright smile.

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables. We weren't joking about the apple. An apple naturally scrubs and cleans your teeth. The nutrients and antioxidants in vegetables are good for the entire body.
  2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calcium is a mineral needed by the body for healthy bones and teeth, and proper function of the heart, muscles, and nerves. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are good sources of calcium. Dark leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified foods like orange juice and tofu are also healthy options.
  3. Keep snacking to a minimum. Sticky and gummy snacks can increase a child’s risk of tooth decay. Unless a child brushes after every snack (and what child does?), sticky snacks can easily get lodged between the teeth.
  4. Limit soda intake. Drinking large amounts of soda has been linked to childhood obesity. Soda is loaded with sugars and acids, and these ingredients also damage the teeth. Soft drinks have long been one of the most prominent sources of tooth decay. Have your child drink water throughout the day or juice that’s low in sugar concentrate.
  5. Chew sugarless gum. After all those fruits and vegetables, sooner or later your child is going to want a treat. Chewing gum stimulates saliva, which in turn helps keep teeth clean and bacteria-free. Sugarless gum contains xylitol. The combination of excess saliva and xylitol reduces plaque, fights cavities, and prevents the growth of oral bacteria.

For more information on keeping your child’s smile looking its very best, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Canker Sores and Stress

July 14th, 2014

Canker sores are painful lesions that form in the soft tissues of the mouth, usually along the inner lips, under the tongue, and along the cheek walls. They are usually small and round, and take on a white or yellow hue. Though most are generally harmless and tend to heal on their own within a week or two of appearing, canker sores can be very irritating.

Only about one in five people develop canker sores. Of those who do, many develop them recurrently as a result of external factors. Though canker sores have been connected to allergies and hormonal changes, many people who are prone to developing canker sores find that their outbreaks are stress-related.

A combination of emotional stress and fatigue can be a perfect storm for the development of mouth sores. Some people say they are not under stress when canker sores form, but the sores appear several days after a stressful event or situation instead. Managing stress, reducing anxiety, and getting plenty of sleep may help prevent canker sores from forming and ensure that existing ones heal more quickly.

What to do if you develop canker sores

Do not be alarmed if you develop a canker sore. They are not contagious and are not harmful to your health. Over-the-counter oral numbing products can be used to manage pain, as can ice chips. Canker sores may heal faster if you apply milk of magnesia to them daily and avoid spicy foods that could irritate them.

You should contact your doctor if you find that your canker sores are unusually large or persist without healing for several weeks. Our team at our office also recommends seeking out professional treatment if you experience extreme pain or a fever develops in association with a canker sore outbreak.

For more information about canker sores, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Don’t let a dental emergency ruin your summer vacation!

July 7th, 2014

For many of our patients at our office, summer means a season of relaxation, vacation, and outdoor fun and activities. While you can’t take a vacation from dental emergencies, you can always be prepared for anything that can happen. Today, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team thought we would give our patients a few tips on handling a dental emergency when you’re far from home (and our office).

Throbbing Toothache – Try brushing and flossing to ease the pain; the issue could be simply that a piece of food is nestled in an uncomfortable spot between your teeth. If that is the case, try to gently remove the object with dental floss. If it still hurts, stick to soft foods, try an over-the-counter pain reliever, or dip a cotton ball in clove oil and insert it on the affected area until you can get to a local dentist.

Bitten Lip or Tongue – Clean the area gently with a cloth and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to a hospital emergency room immediately.

Lost Filling or Crown – Dental wax will work to keep the sharp edges of your tooth from bothering you. If you can, save the crown or filling, and if you happen to have denture adhesive handy, you can use it to temporarily reattach the crown until you can get to a local dentist.

Broken Tooth – Hold the tooth by the crown and rinse off the root of the tooth in water if it’s dirty. If possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket. If that isn’t possible, put the tooth in a cup of milk and get to a local dentist as quickly as possible.

Broken Jaw – Apply cold compresses to control swelling. Visit a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

If you have a dental emergency after regular office hours and you happen to be in town, please give us a call. If you are calling us after hours, please follow the emergency prompts to contact Dr. Richard Mullens.

Happy Fourth of July

June 30th, 2014

Every year, Americans all over the world celebrate the birth of the country and its independence on the Fourth of July. There are countless ways that people celebrate and they range from community parades and large scale gatherings to concerts, fireworks displays, and smaller scale celebrations among family and friends. For some people, July 4th is synonymous with baseball, while for others it is all about the beach of barbecues. However you celebrate, you can be sure that red, white, and blue is visible everywhere throughout the area.

The Beginnings of Fourth of July Celebrations

Although it wasn't officially designated as a federal holiday until 1941, the actual tradition of celebrating Independence Day goes back to the time of the American Revolution (1775 – 1783). At the time of the American Revolution, representatives from the 13 colonies penned the resolution that ultimately declared their independence from Great Britain. The continental congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd of 1776. Two days later, Thomas Jefferson's famous document that is now known as the Declaration of Independence, was adopted by delegates representing the 13 colonies.

First States to Recognize the Fourth of July

In 1781, Massachusetts became the first state (or commonwealth) whose legislature resolved to designate July 4th as the date on which to celebrate the country's independence. Two years later, Boston became the first city to make an official designation to honor the country's birth with a holiday on July 4th. In that same year, North Carolina's governor, Alexander Martin, became the first governor to issue an official state order stipulating that July 4th was the day on which North Carolinians would celebrate the country's independence.

Fun Facts About the Fourth of July

  • The reason the stars on the original flag were arranged in a circle is because it was believed that would indicate that all of the colonies were equal.
  • Americans eat over 150 million hot dogs on July 4th.
  • Imports of fireworks each year totals over $211 million.
  • The first “official” Fourth of July party took place at the White House in 1801.
  • Benjamin Franklin didn't want the national bird to be the bald eagle. He believed that the turkey was better suited to the coveted distinction. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed with him, and he was outvoted, so the bald eagle became the official bird of the United States.

For many, the tradition is something entirely different. Along the coastal areas of the United States, people may haul out huge pots to have lobster or other types of seafood boils. Others may spend the day in the bleachers at a baseball game, or at a park, cooking a great traditional meal over an open fire. No matter how or where you celebrate, one thing is certain: all Americans celebrate July 4th as the birth and independence of our country.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Periodontal Disease in Adolescents

June 23rd, 2014

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office know that periodontal disease isn't something exclusive to adults. It can affect adolescents as well. Gingivitis, which is a milder form of periodontitis, is a form of periodontal disease, and a warning that more serious problems may arise. Untreated gingivitis can develop into full-blown periodontitis.

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) explains that research proves that younger people may develop more severe forms of gingivitis. Gingivitis is linked to periodontal disease. Children and adolescents who have type 1 diabetes or immune deficiencies are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease.

There are three types of periodontal diseases Dr. Richard Mullens and our team see in children and adolescents.

Chronic gingivitis

Parents may suspect that their adolescent has chronic gingivitis if he or she shows or complains of symptoms such as redness, swelling, or bleeding gums. Early treatment may prevent gingivitis from developing into a more severe form of periodontal disease.

Aggressive and/or chronic periodontitis

Once called adult periodontitis, the term chronic replaces “adult” because periodontitis can occur in people in their early teenage years, and progress throughout their teens. Chronic and aggressive periodontitis primarily affects incisors and first molars. One of its distinguishing characteristics is bone loss. Curiously, patients who suffer from this form of the disease have minimal dental plaque on examination.

Generalized aggressive and chronic periodontal disease

This form of periodontal disease has many of the same characteristics of the chronic and aggressive form, but this more severe type of the disease affects the entire mouth. Symptoms include major plaque and calculus accumulation, and inflamed gums.

In both forms of more severe periodontal disease, the overall gum structure may change. The severity of these changes may alter gum strength enough to loosen teeth, or even worse, cause them to fall out.

The success of any treatment is largely contingent on early diagnosis. Dr. Richard Mullens should conduct a thorough periodontal exam as part of an adolescent’s twice-yearly complete dental examinations.

The mouth is full of bacteria. Some of it is necessary for food digestion. Diseases are more likely to develop if bacteria travel to open places in the mouth, such as exposed gum pockets or cavities. Proper dental hygiene is essential for a healthy mouth, and a healthy mouth offers greater protection against painful dental diseases.

Be sure every member of your family has a complete dental exam and cleaning twice a year, and contact Dr. Richard Mullens when you or your young kids or adolescents complain of pain, sensitivity, or other oral problems. Early detection at our Jacksonville, FL office leads to treatment of oral problems and prevents them from turning into serious periodontal disease and potentially irreversible problems.

Sleep Apnea: How we can help

June 16th, 2014

At our office, we understand that getting high-quality sleep is vital to maintaining your overall health. Insufficient sleep can lead to an inability to concentrate, motor vehicle accidents, and difficulty performing at work. Since approximately 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, this poses a significant public health problem. If you think you may have sleep apnea, talk to Dr. Richard Mullens and our team about devices that can help you get a good night’s rest.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a relatively common disorder in which breathing stops or becomes very shallow during the night. These bouts of paused breathing may last a few seconds or as long as several minutes. When 30 or more breathing interruptions occur per hour, sleep apnea leads to dramatic reductions in sleep quality. In many cases, this condition is caused by your airway becoming blocked or collapsed during sleep.

Anyone can get sleep apnea, but there are certain factors that increase your risk. Having small airways, being overweight, being male, or having a family history of sleep apnea increases the likelihood that you will develop the disorder. If you think you have sleep apnea, visit highly encourage you to visit our Jacksonville, FL office for a thorough physical exam, comprehensive medical history, and a sleep study.

Treatment Options

Several treatment avenues are available for people with sleep apnea. One popular option is to wear an oral appliance. For example, a mandibular advancement device (MAD) looks like a sports mouthguard and slightly repositions your jaw, to keep your airway unobstructed. Another option is a tongue-retraining device (TRD), which holds your tongue in place to ensure that your airway stays open during the night.

For individuals with mild-to-moderate sleep apnea, dental devices are a smart option. Many patients enjoy improved sleep, reductions in snoring, and less fatigue during daytime hours. If you’re curious about getting an oral appliance to help with your sleep apnea, please consult our team at our office. After a consultation and examination, we can fit the type of device that works best for your condition.

CEREC® Crowns vs. Traditional Crowns

June 9th, 2014

There are different situations for which Dr. Richard Mullens may recommend a crown, and Dr. Richard Mullens will recommend different types of crowns depending on your unique situation. Dental crowns are made from various materials, including all-metal, porcelain-fused-to-metal, all-ceramic or porcelain, or resin. The material the crown is made of will dictate the length of time you may have to wait for it, whether or not you will need a temporary, and of course, the cost.

A crown is a protective cap. Possible reasons Dr. Richard Mullens may want to give you a crown include:

  • To cover a tooth after a root canal
  • To cover a cracked or broken tooth
  • To cover a weak tooth, either because of a large filling, or because of the likelihood that it will crack or break
  • To cover an implant
  • To cover anchor teeth that support a bridge

CEREC crowns

CEREC crowns are made of a solid block of ceramic or resin materials. This type of crown is made right in our office during a single visit. There is no need to construct a temporary crown, take impressions for the permanent crown, and wait for the crown to be made at an off-site dental laboratory to be returned to our office about a month later.

This type of crown uses computer technology to take a picture of the tooth that will receive the crown, as well as the surrounding teeth. Thanks to CAD software that works with this system, Dr. Richard Mullens can design the tooth while looking in your mouth, and make sure the color matches the rest of your teeth. Also, because the crown is made from a single block of material, it is considerably stronger than many other types of crowns.

Types of traditional crowns

All metal: All-metal crowns don’t require as much tooth preparation, and therefore don’t alter the existing tooth structure as much as porcelain-fused-to-metal or ceramic crowns. They are the longest-lasting type of traditional or permanent crown, and are far less likely to break or chip. Metals used may include gold alloy, palladium, nickel, or chromium.

Porcelain fused to metal: Porcelain can be matched to your natural tooth color. A disadvantage, however, is that these types of crowns create more stress and wear on the surrounding teeth than either pure metal or resin. The metal sometimes shows through at the bottom of the tooth, near the gum line. Porcelain can chip or break, but can be made to look exactly like your real teeth.

All ceramic/all porcelain: This type of crown is most easily matched to your existing teeth. Because there is no metal, there is no risk that it will show. This type of crown is ideally suited to people who have metal allergies. The greatest disadvantage is that ceramic or porcelain may cause more wear and tear to the surrounding teeth. On the other hand, it is ideal for front teeth because they look very much like real teeth.

Resin: Resin crowns are cheaper than ceramic, porcelain, or metal crowns. This material is more prone to fracturing and causes more wear and tear on the crown itself.

Different situations warrant different types of crowns. Dr. Richard Mullens will discuss your situation and determine which type of crown you need. Our team at our office is happy to answer any questions you may have about crowns, CEREC, or any other aspect of your oral health.

To learn more about CEREC, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

June is National Smile Month: Show off your smile!

June 2nd, 2014

The community health awareness group Oral Health America has reported that 82 percent of adults are unaware of the role that infectious bacteria can play in tooth decay or cavities, and almost three out of five children aged 12 to 19 have tooth decay. Since June is National Smile Month, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office thought we’d remind our patients about the importance of good oral hygiene visits between office visits.

To keep your family’s smiles healthy and beautiful for years to come, be sure to:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between your teeth
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit Dr. Richard Mullens for scheduled appointments

If you want to know more about healthy home care habits, feel free to ask our team at your next appointment, or ask us on Facebook!

Memorial Day

May 26th, 2014

Memorial Day is not only a federal holiday in the United States, but it is a day of observance and remembrance of those who died in service. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn day has been marked on calendars since the end of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the war.

Marking the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, or other tokens has been practiced throughout history, but it wasn't until the mark of the end of the Civil War that a special day was decided upon as the one to spend in remembrance. By 1890, every state in the country was observing Decoration Day. It wasn't until 1967 when the name formally changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, in order to encompass all fallen American soldiers in all wars and conflicts. In June of 1968, Congress moved the official date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend.

Today, while there is certainly an air of remembrance on Memorial Day, it has become more a day of spending time with family, friends, and other loved ones. This day is also heralded as the start of summer, with many schools finishing for the year around this time. Our team at our office remembers it as a day to take solace and remembered those lost.

Traditional observances of Memorial Day are still held, and they often involve raising the American Flag then lowering it to a half-staff position until noon, and then raising it once again to its full height afterwards. The flag is lowered to remember those who've lost their lives while in service to their country, and then it is raised to signify our willingness to not let their sacrifice be in vain.

From community parades in the Jacksonville, FL area, backyard cook-outs, and fireworks to formal ceremonies, Memorial Day is commemorated in many different ways. No matter how you choose to spend this day, take a moment to remember those who've lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

Why Visiting the Emergency Room for Your Dental Problem isn’t a Good Idea

May 19th, 2014

Emergency rooms are for emergencies, so before you head to the hospital because of a dental problem, you need to ask yourself this question: Is what you're experiencing really a medical emergency? While emergency room visits for dental related issues are on the rise across the United States , they’re not necessarily the best solution for every problem. Many people don't know about emergency dental care services, many of which are available 24/7, and so they go to the ER.

These types of statistics are common across the country. However, despite the numbers, not all dental problems are created equal. If you've experienced some type of injury to your mouth, jaw, or face, then an ER visit is a good idea, but if you're suffering from a toothache, cavity, or broken crown or veneer, then the ER is not the best place to handle the situation. If you're having a dental emergency, then seeking emergency dental care should be your course of action.

Seeking Long-Term Solutions

The ER doesn't provide a long-term solution to your dental issue; it only gives you temporary relief. There’s a chance they will simply hand you a prescription for pain medication and tell you to call your dentist in the morning. In the end, you’re going to be saddled with two medical bills, and nobody wants that. Even if the ER outfits you with a temporary crown or filling, you're still going to have to make a follow-up appointment our office.

There are numerous homemade remedies that can sooth tooth and gum pain. However, if you're experiencing a dental emergency, the ER is not the place to go. The specialized emergency team at our office is available to take care of every dental problem you may have. In the case of a dental emergency, don't wait any longer than necessary. Feel free to contact our Jacksonville, FL office at any time, day or night.

Good Oral Health Habits When You’re Pregnant

May 12th, 2014

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office will tell you that good oral health habits when you are pregnant are very important. A plaque or infectious buildup can affect the baby in gestation, and cause some unforeseen issues during birth. There are a few steps relating to oral health that can help prevent complications and other pregnancy issues. Here are a few things to consider about oral health when you are expecting.

Proper brushing

Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is essential when you are pregnant. This will peel away any buildup that you have on your teeth, and help create a shield against future buildup. Swallowing large amounts of plaque or bacterial buildup can and will affect the gestation of the fetus, and can cause certain complications.

Floss

Flossing will also help remove a lot of the buildup in your teeth that can promote infection. Make sure you floss at least once a day. Bacterial infections fester on food buildup, and certain destructive viruses can also breed and grow on these remnants.

Morning sickness

The acidity of vomit can erode the enamel on your teeth, and create buildup of damaging particulates in your teeth. If you are experiencing regular morning sickness, rinse your teeth with a mixture of baking soda and water. This will remove buildup, and alleviate some of the acidity from the vomit.

Alcohol-free, antimicrobial mouthwash

Regardless of whether you are trying to or not, you will swallow small amounts of your mouthwash. Alcohol can affect your gestating baby. Use an antimicrobial, alcohol-free mouthwash.

Visit the dentist

If you have any dental issues, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office away. We will be able to diagnose and treat any oral health issues immediately, and make sure they do not affect your developing child. Protecting your baby includes protecting your oral health.

Wishing all our moms a happy Mother’s Day!

May 5th, 2014

"Motherhood: All love begins and ends there." - Robert Browning

We would like to take this moment to thank all the great moms out there for being so great during their child’s visits to our office. Whether it’s driving their kids to regularly scheduled appointments or for “being there” while their child is treatment, the moms who come to our office are all stellar individuals, so Dr. Richard Mullens and our entire staff would like you to know that we appreciate you all!

Happy Mother’s Day and enjoy your special day!

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should my child use?

April 28th, 2014

Imagine that you sit down for some evening television, and during the course of the evening, you see five commercials regarding dental products. They all claim to be the best. Then remember your last visit to the dental aisle at a local grocery store. The choices are overwhelming and there seems to be no sure answer as to which would be the best choice for your child.

our office recommends that parents break down the decision process. First, consider your child’s age and stage of development. Up until age ten to 12, your child cannot adequately brush or floss independently. It is not a maturity issue, but rather dexterity. Automatic toothbrushes are highly appropriate for all ages. Brushing quality improves when using a battery-powered toothbrush. Use it together with your child, and always play an active role in your child’s oral home care.

As a general rule, the brush head of the toothbrush should be a little larger than the child’s upper portion of the thumb. This will help ensure it will fit in all the places it needs to.

Flossers are great for children. These will have a horseshoe shape on one end with floss in-between. A particular brand name does not matter. Some have a higher quality and this should be evident when you use them. You can make a choice for individual preference with color, handle size, or shape, etc.

There are many brands of toothpaste and there are also differences in the ingredients. Some contain sodium fluoride, the standard ingredient in cavity prevention. Others have stannous fluoride, which is anti-bacterial and anti-cavity. Potassium nitrate is commonly found in anti-sensitivity, and triclosan is found in one particular brand for anti-bacterial properties. It is most common for children to be at a high risk for cavities. Therefore, our team at our office recommends toothpaste with fluoride once your child is old enough to spit.

Before a child can spit, use toothpaste without fluoride. This is an ideal time to use toothpaste with xylitol. Xylitol should be listed as the first ingredient; this way you’ll get the almost medicinal property of this natural sweetener. After you have found the right type of toothpaste, consider its flavor. The best kind of toothpaste is one that will be used, so choose a flavor that your child will love!

If you have any other questions, our would like specific brand recommendation feel free to call us at our office or ask Dr. Richard Mullens during your next appointment!

Every Day is Earth Day

April 21st, 2014

During the early days of the environmental awareness movement, those who demonstrated against pollution, toxic chemicals, and the general public health were known as hippies. The early 1970s were a time of change, and assertions that we needed to pay more attention to the Earth's atmosphere were generally dismissed. But within a couple decades, it had become clear that the previous generation was right; the citizens of the world needed to become more environmentally conscious.

Many people feel that they can't make a difference if they don't do something big. But caring for the environment doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing concept. In fact, the little things you do can add up to make a great impact, especially in our community. Here are a few ways you can help the environment on Earth Day, April 22nd and all year around.

Four Small Ways to be Environmentally Friendly

  • Recycle Your Textiles. Nearly 21 million tons of textiles are added to American landfills each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Donating your unwanted clothing to a secondhand store or an organization that repurposes fabric helps cut down on solid waste and conserves natural resources.
  • Reduce Usage of Disposables. Plastic bottles and bags, disposable diapers and other things we can use and toss out are convenient, but they're not necessary. Simply choosing to replace one of type of disposable with a reusable product can help you cut down on waste that has a large negative impact on our environment.
  • Conserve Water. If everyone in the United States turned off the water while brushing their teeth, more than 1.5 million gallons of water could be conserved. Turn the water on long enough to wet your toothbrush for brushing and rinsing, and then immediately turn the water off again.
  • Turn Off the Lights. Flip the light switch to "Off" if you're going to leave a particular room for 15 minutes or more. This will conserve energy on incandescent light bulbs and cut down on cooling costs.

It's not necessary to be an activist or install solar panels all over your home to help the environment. Although you can do these things, the little everyday measures make a big difference in helping to conserve energy and the environment, while reducing your carbon footprint. Our team at our office wants to remind you to celebrate Earth Day and help the environment, knowing that it will benefit your and your children's generation.

What causes tooth loss?

April 14th, 2014

When children lose baby teeth, it’s a time to rejoice. But when adults suffer from tooth loss, it may be a sign of a serious problem. That’s when it’s time to give us a call at our office.

What are the reasons for missing teeth?

The loss of permanent teeth can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging anywhere from hereditary factors to tooth decay to traumatic injury. Here are the following reasons why adults suffer tooth loss:

  • Gum disease: The number one cause of lost teeth in adults is gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, an infection of the structures that support the teeth. Once gum disease reaches and destroys the alveolar bone, the teeth begin to loosen and will eventually fall out or need to be extracted.
  • Tooth decay: If cavities are left untreated, they can destroy tooth structure as well as cause infection in the supporting bone.
  • Tooth injury: An injury can either knock out a tooth immediately or cause damage to the root or pulp that will later require extraction. We recommend using a mouthguard if you play sports.
  • Tooth fracture: A fracture in a tooth is often caused by teeth grinding, or what Dr. Richard Mullens and our team call bruxism. A crown may be the answer, but depending on the location of the crack or fracture and how deeply it extends, the tooth may not respond well to repair with a crown and may need to be extracted instead.

What are the risk factors for tooth loss?

  • Poor oral hygiene: Patients who only occasionally brush or floss their teeth are more likely to develop tartar, plaque buildup, and other bacteria that cause decay.
  • Not visiting the dentist: Seeing Dr. Richard Mullens every six months for a cleaning and checkup prevents any developing oral health issues, as well as ensures that plaque and tartar do not build up over time.
  • Smoking: Smokers and users of smokeless tobacco are more likely to develop periodontal disease that can cause tooth loss. If you are a smoker it is crucial to visit us on a timely schedule.
  • Various health conditions: Patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic health issues are more likely to suffer from gum disease.

Scheduling an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens at our Jacksonville, FL office will give you an accurate diagnosis and a variety of treatment options. It’s important to know that periodontal disease is “silent,” meaning you will not always experience pain as a signal of infection. When caught early, treatments are usually successful.

Give us a call today to schedule your next visit!

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 7th, 2014

What is oral cancer?

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. If you have been putting off a visit to our Jacksonville, FL office, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits to our office can be the first line of defense against oral cancer, by identifying early warning signs of the disease, or helping you with preventive care tips to lower your chances of developing it.

Oral Cancer Rates in America

Nearly 40,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and more than 8,000 die every year from this disease. It is a devastating illness: most people who are diagnosed with it do not live more than five years beyond their diagnosis. Oral cancer has a higher death rate than many other common cancers, including cervical cancer, testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and thyroid or skin cancers. The high death rate results from the fact that most oral cancers go undiagnosed until the disease is well advanced and has spread to another part of the body—most often, the lymph nodes in the neck.

What causes oral cancer?

While there is no way to predict exactly which individuals will get oral cancer, there are some potential causes you should know about—because in some cases, you can minimize these risk factors.

  • Age (most patients diagnosed with oral cancer are over the age of 40)
  • Tobacco use, either from cigarettes or smokeless chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption (especially in combination with tobacco use)
  • Persistent viral infections, such as HPV16
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables

In addition, oral cancer tends to occur at a rate six times greater in men than in women, and more often for African Americans than other ethnic groups. No genetic links have been identified to explain the higher incidence in these populations, so lifestyle choices remain the likeliest cause.

Oral Cancer Treatments

Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment of oral cancer usually involves a multi-disciplinary team that includes surgeons, oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and rehabilitation and restorative specialists. Our team will decide on the best approach for each patient, depending on the risk factors and how far the cancer has progressed. The strategy will be different in every case. Some of the most common methods include chemotherapy, radiation, and potential surgery.

Finding out you have cancer can be devastating news. If you are concerned that you might be at risk for developing oral cancer, talk to us about screenings and other things you can do to reduce your risk.

Tooth Eruption Timeline

March 31st, 2014

Parents, and even older children, can become concerned about tooth development. Wondering when teeth should erupt, and being concerned when the teeth do not appear on schedule, is common. First, you need to remember that each individual is different. Guidelines are just guidelines, but Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office thought we would pass on this information to help you.

Primary teeth

Children normally have 20 primary or baby teeth. The first two to appear are usually the lower central incisors between six to ten months of age. These fall out between five and seven years of age.

  • Two upper central incisors – eight to 12 months
  • Two upper lateral incisors – nine to 13 months
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 16 to 22 months
  • Two upper first molars – 13 to 19 months
  • Two upper second molars – 25 to 33 months
  • Two lower lateral incisors – ten to 16 months
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – 17 to 23 months
  • Two lower first molars – 14 to 18 months
  • Two lower second molars – 13 to 31 months

As you can see, all the primary teeth normally have erupted before three years of age, but the timeline can vary by four to six months. Except for the lower central incisors and second molars, upper teeth tend to appear before lower teeth.

Permanent or adult teeth

Adults normally have 32 permanent teeth. However, four of these are wisdom teeth or third molars, which are often removed.

  • Two upper central incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two upper lateral incisors – eight to nine years
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 11 to 12 years
  • Two upper first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 11 years
  • Two upper second premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two upper first molars – six to seven years
  • Two upper second molars – 12 to 13 years
  • Two upper third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years
  • Two lower central incisors – six to seven years
  • Two lower lateral incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – nine to ten years
  • Two lower first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two lower second premolars or bicuspids – 11 to 12 years
  • Two lower first molars – six to seven years
  • Two lower second molars – 11 to 13 years
  • Two lower third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years

Please discuss any of your dental concerns during your visit with Dr. Richard Mullens. If there is a problem with tooth development, the earlier we address it, the better the outcome. We specialize in pediatric dentistry and look forward to helping you and your child with all your dental needs. To learn more about tooth eruption, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

CEREC® Single-Visit Crowns

March 24th, 2014

CEREC is an acronym for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. It is a type of dental technology that incorporates two computer technologies: CAD (computer-aided design), and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing). CEREC technology allows Dr. Richard Mullens to design, make, and perfect a crown while you wait in the office. The process is generally completed in less than an hour.

The process begins when we take a picture of the tooth that will receive the crown. Using that picture, a digital impression of the real tooth is created. The proprietary software allows us to create the adjacent teeth digitally, which aids in the process of recreating the computer image that is sent to the milling machine via wireless transmission.

If we recommend a CEREC crown, you will get a permanent crown during a single office visit. We will be able to take a picture of your tooth and mouth, and then create the crown for your tooth. The design process allows us to match your crown to your real tooth as closely as possible.

CEREC crowns are made out of either ceramic material or a type of synthetic resin. Blocks of the material Dr. Richard Mullens will choose go into the milling machine, where diamond blades file and shape the block of solid material into a crown that will look as much like your real tooth as possible.

Before permanently securing the crown in your mouth with resin cement, we will smooth, file, and refine the shape of the crown, putting it in your mouth to check your bite, and removing it to make small adjustments. After cementing the tooth in your mouth, Dr. Richard Mullens will check to make sure the surface of the crown is smooth enough to make proper contact with your teeth when you bite down.

For more information about CEREC, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

St. Patrick's Day

March 17th, 2014

On March 17, everyone has a little Irish in them. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous celebration of Irish heritage. The holiday originated as a commemoration of Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland. The saint arrived in Ireland in 432 and earned the reputation of a champion of Irish Christianity. March 17th, the day of St. Patrick’s death, has been commemorated by the Irish for over 1,000 years. St. Patrick’s Day is still observed as a religious feast day by several Christian denominations, but it is better known in the public imagination as a rich celebration of Irish culture.

St. Patrick’s Day has been an official public holiday in Ireland since 1903. Each year, the Irish celebrate with a several-day festival that includes theater performances, music, fireworks, and festive parades. The celebration is also a public holiday in Northern Ireland, Montserrat, and Newfoundland and Labrador. In other parts of the world with heavy Irish populations, it is an unofficial celebration of Irish heritage. Parts of Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, South Korea, Switzerland, New Zealand, the United States, and Australia commemorate the holiday each year. Typical celebrations in these countries include drinking green beer, wearing green, eating traditional Irish foods, parades, and shamrock decorations.

Many people, Irish and non-Irish alike, take part in the “wearing of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, the color originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue. His use of shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish made the green clover emblematic of the holiday, leading to the traditional green attire worn by thousands on St. Patrick’s Day. Other little-known facts about St. Patrick’s Day include the following:

  • Each year, the United States and Ireland face off in a rugby competition called the “St. Patrick’s Day Test.”
  • Montreal celebrates the holiday with an annual parade, which has been held each year since 1824. The Montreal city flag even features a shamrock in its corner, as a nod to its Irish heritage.
  • The Guinness World Records named St. Patrick’s Day the “Friendliest Day of the Year.”
  • Along with Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world.

No matter your cultural heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to let loose and celebrate your inner Irish-ness! Don your greenest attire and exclaim “Erin go Bragh!” (Ireland forever!) to everyone you meet. From Dr. Richard Mullens - have a great St. Paddy’s day!

Use Pediatric Dentists to Treat Children

March 10th, 2014

There are many different types of dental specialties out there, so how do you know when you should see a general dentist (your regular dentist), and when you should seek the help of a dentist with specialized training? This article covers the basic differences between a pediatric dentist and a family or general dentist, and why it may be beneficial to find a specialized doctor to work with your children’s teeth.

What is a pediatric dentist?

All dentists, regardless of which specialty they practice, attend a four-year dental school for either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. Once they have completed the initial degree program, some dentists choose to proceed to additional training in an area of dental specialty. Pediatric dentistry is one of those specialties.

A pediatric dentist will study the development of teeth from infancy through the teen years. Babies, toddlers, school-age children, and teenagers experience different growth phases and have different needs for their oral health care from adults. A dentist with post-graduate training in this specialty can often provide a more comprehensive approach to treatment to meet those needs.

Specialized Needs Pediatric Dentists Can Address

Starting with the first teeth that grow in your child’s mouth (usually around six months of age), you need to begin caring for your child’s teeth. However, it’s not as simple as just doing the same things you do for your adult teeth, because children have specific needs and may have concerns and issues that you do not face for your oral health care as an adult.

There are several concerns unique to younger dental patients. Beginning with babies, parents need to be aware of the specific oral care required for children. For example, babies who drink from bottles can develop baby bottle tooth decay if parents do not properly clean their teeth. Young children may develop a habit of sucking their thumb, which can contribute to poor oral hygiene. Children who have trouble with teeth grinding may need specialized care. And children have specific dietary needs that serve their need to develop strong teeth and gums.

All these concerns can be addressed by a pediatric dentist with specialized knowledge of childhood oral health and teeth development. General dentists often know some of this information, but without the specialized training they may not be able to provide the care that is geared toward the needs of your children. In addition, pediatric dentists will often have a practice that is built entirely with children in mind, with décor, staff, and other elements that can help put children at ease when it’s time to visit the dentist.

If you have young children, consider our pediatric dentistry office. At our office, our specialized care for young patients features a caregiver with the knowledge and training to provide your children with the best possible care.

March is National Nutrition Month!

March 3rd, 2014

While you don’t have to wait to start eating right, March is the month the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asks everyone to pay special attention to what goes into our bodies. The Academy has designated the month of March for focusing the public’s awareness on what they eat.

What Not to Eat

The academy points out that the foods you eat have a direct effect on the health of your teeth and specifically on tooth decay. Bacteria rely on carbohydrates to thrive. That is why Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office tell our patients to cut back on both candy and sweets. They consist of simple sugars that feed the bacteria in your mouth and enhance tooth decay.

It’s the hidden sugars that will cost you, though. Get in the habit of reading labels on food and looking for products with added sugar. This includes ingredients that end with the suffix “ose.” When it comes to nutrition, these foods offer little value beyond satisfying that sweet tooth.

What You Should Eat

Turn to foods that not only taste good but are good for your teeth too. Dairy products, for example, provide the body with nutritional items that support tooth enamel. Foods high in protein feature phosphorus, a nutrient critical to oral health.

You can’t really go wrong by adding color to your diet, either. Fruits and vegetables make for a colorful plate and a healthy meal. Use some caution with acidic fruits like oranges or even tomatoes, because the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include these foods in a meal instead of eating them by themselves.

Remember, good nutrition is something you should worry about all year long, not just when celebrating National Nutrition Month. March just serves as a fun reminder that eating right is a proactive step in managing your dental health.

We encourage you to give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office to learn more!

Are you at risk for tooth erosion?

February 24th, 2014

Many people consume carbonated or sugary drinks and acidic foods every day but have no idea those beverages may be harming their teeth, making them vulnerable to tooth erosion. The acid in the foods we eat and drink can cause tooth enamel to wear away, making your teeth sensitive and discolored. Dr. Richard Mullens will tell you that in many cases, what’s important is not what you eat and drink, but rather how you consume it.

What is tooth erosion?

Tooth erosion is the loss of tooth structure caused by the weakening of dental enamel, which is the strongest substance in the human body. Enamel is the thin, outer layer of hard tissue that helps maintain the tooth’s structure and shape. When the enamel is weakened, it exposes the underlying dentin, causing your teeth to appear yellow.

What causes tooth erosion?

Tooth erosion may occur when the acids in the foods and beverages you eat and drink, as well as other factors we will discuss later, weaken the enamel on your teeth. Typically the calcium contained in saliva will help remineralize (strengthen) your teeth after you consume foods or drinks that contain some acid. However, the presence of a lot of acid in your mouth does not allow for remineralization to happen.

Acid can come from many sources, including the following:

  • Drinking carbonated or fruit drinks. All soft drinks (even diet varieties) contain a lot of acid and are capable of dissolving enamel on your teeth. Bacteria thrive on sugar and produce high acid levels that can eat away at enamel.
  • Eating sour foods or candies. All those sour candies may taste great, but these treats can be acidic to your teeth. Sour and fruity candy, such as Starburst and Skittles, are the worst for your teeth since these candies have a low pH value, which is known to ruin enamel.
  • Low saliva volume. Saliva helps prevent decay by neutralizing acids and washing away leftover food in your mouth.
  • Acid reflux disease. Acid reflux, or GERD, brings stomach acids up to the mouth, where the acids can erode enamel.
  • Bulimia or binge drinking. These conditions can cause tooth damage because they frequently expose teeth to stomach acids.
  • Wear and tear. Brushing your teeth too vigorously or grinding your teeth at night can erode enamel.

What are the symptoms of tooth erosion?

Acid wear may lead to serious dental problems. When your tooth enamel erodes, your teeth become more vulnerable to cavities and decay, and you may begin noticing the following symptoms:

  • Severe sensitivity or tooth pain when consuming hot, cold, or sugary foods or drinks
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Rounded teeth
  • Transparent teeth
  • Visible cracks in teeth
  • Cupping, or dents, that show up on the biting or chewing surfaces of the teeth

What you can do to prevent tooth erosion

  • Reduce or eliminate altogether your consumption of carbonated drinks. Instead, sip water, milk, or tea.
  • If you must consume acidic drinks, drink them quickly and be sure to use a straw so that the liquid is pushed to the back of the mouth. Don’t swish them around or hold them in your mouth for a long period of time.
  • Instead of snacking on acidic foods throughout the day, we suggest eating these foods just during meal times in order to minimize the amount of time the acid makes contact with your teeth.
  • After consuming highly acidic food or drinks, rinse with water to neutralize the acids.
  • Chew sugar-free gum to produce more saliva, as this helps your teeth remineralize.
  • Brush with a soft toothbrush and be sure your toothpaste contains fluoride.
  • Dr. Richard Mullens may also recommend daily use of a toothpaste to reduce sensitivity (over-the-counter or prescription strength) or other products to counter the effects of erosion.

It’s important to know that the majority of dental problems, such as tooth erosion, do not become visible or painful until they are advanced. And, unfortunately, serious oral issues are painful and expensive to treat. A deep cleaning twice a year by our team at our office is the best way to hit all the spots you may have missed with brushing and flossing and prevent any issues that may have gone unseen.

Make sure your teeth get the professional attention they deserve! If you are overdue for your next checkup or cleaning, please give us a call to schedule an appointment at our conv

Choosing the Dental Filling Option that's Best for You

February 17th, 2014

Did you know there are as many types of dental fillings as there are flavors of ice cream? Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Still, when you visit the dentist with a cavity, there are many filling options. Most of us just sit in the chair, open our mouths, and let the dentist work his or her magic. But have you ever stopped to consider what the dentist is filling and restoring your decayed or broken tooth with?

Five types of dental fillings

There are five basic kinds of dental filing material. The dentist decides which type to use based on the degree of the decay, the cost of the material, and the type of dental insurance you have.

  1. Dental amalgam, or silver fillings, have been used to fill cavities for more than 150 years. Dental amalgam is the most common type of dental filling. It's strong, durable, and less expensive than other types.
  2. Composite fillings, or white fillings, are popular because the color matches the rest of your teeth. Composite fillings are a combination of resin and plastic. They are more aesthetically pleasing than silver fillings, but are also less durable.
  3. Ceramic fillings are durable and visually appealing (tooth-colored), but they are expensive. They are made of porcelain and have been shown to be resistant to staining.
  4. Glass ionomers are typically used on children whose teeth are still changing. Constructed from glass and acrylic, glass ionomers are designed to last fewer than five years. The benefit of these dental fillings is that they release fluoride, which protects the changing tooth from further decay.
  5. Unless you’re a rock or movie star, gold fillings aren’t common. While a gold filling is durable, non-corrosive, and can last more than 15 years, it not only takes more than one dental visit to place, but, as you can imagine, it is expensive.

For more information about fillings, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

Valentine's Day History

February 10th, 2014

Valentine’s Day is best known as a celebration of love in all its forms. Pink hearts, red roses, and cute greeting cards adorn every surface you see. What many people don’t realize is that the modern Valentine’s Day celebration arose from a religious holiday.

St. Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated as a religious feast day in honor of early Christian martyrs. Three martyrs named Valentine were honored: a priest in Rome, the persecuted bishop of Interamna (a town in central Italy), and a saint martyred in Africa. This saint’s day was celebrated throughout Christendom, although it was removed from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969.

The origin of Valentine’s Day as a holiday for lovers began with Geoffrey Chaucer in his 1382 poem “Parlement of Foules.” Chaucer wrote, “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate,” and the modern romantic holiday was born. William Shakespeare and other writers mentioned Valentine’s Day as a day of love.

Valentine’s Day as we know it came about in the early 19th century. In Victorian England, printers began manufacturing small numbers of cards with romantic verses, lace, ribbons, and other frills. Anonymous Valentine’s Day card were a popular way for young lovers to exchange romantic sentiments in an otherwise prudish time. As the 19th century progressed, printers began mass manufacturing Valentine’s Day cards. People in the United States give an estimated 190 million valentines every year, and up to one billion if you count children exchanging cards at school! With the rise of the Internet, Valentine’s Day e-cards have become a popular mode of communication, with millions of e-cards sent each year.

The other items associated with Valentine’s Day include chocolate and flowers. The tradition of giving chocolates has been around for decades, and Richard Cadbury created the first box of Valentine’s Day chocolates nearly 150 years ago. Today, purchases of chocolate total over $1 billion in the United States alone, with 35 million heart-shaped boxes sold each year. Loved ones also exchange flowers, with red roses being associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. On Valentine’s Day itself, florists sell nearly 200 stems of roses.

Although many people dismiss Valentine’s Day as a commercialized “Hallmark holiday,” it is beloved to couples and romantics across the United States and other countries. The team at our office wants to remind all patients that no matter what your celebratory plans, February 14th can be a wonderful day to celebrate the loved ones in your life. Happy Valentine’s Day!

February is Heart Month

February 3rd, 2014

The American Academy of Periodontology stresses the importance of good oral health since gum disease may be linked to heart disease and stroke. Thus far, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established, but there are multiple theories to explain the link between heart disease and periodontal disease. One theory suggests that oral bacteria may affect heart health when it enters the blood and attaches to the fatty plaque in the heart's blood vessels. This can cause the formation of blood clots. Another theory suggests the possibility that inflammation could be a contributing link between periodontal disease and heart disease. Gum disease increases plaque buildup, and inflamed gums may also contribute to the development of swollen or inflamed coronary arteries.

What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease is caused in part by the buildup of fatty proteins on the walls of the coronary arteries. Blood clots cut off blood flow, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart. Both blood clots and the buildup of fatty proteins (also called plaque) on the walls of the coronary arteries may lead to a heart attack. Moreover, periodontal disease nearly doubles the likelihood that someone will suffer from coronary artery disease. Periodontal disease can also worsen existing heart conditions, so many patients who suffer from heart disease need to take antibiotics before any dental procedures. This is especially true of patients who are at greatest risk for contracting infective endocarditis (inflammation of the inner layer of the heart). The fact that more than 2,400 people die from heart disease each day makes it a major public health issue. It is also the leading killer of both men and women in the United States today.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that destroys the bone and gum tissues around the teeth, reducing or potentially eradicating the system that supports your teeth. It affects roughly 75 percent of Americans, and is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. People who suffer from periodontal disease may notice that their gums swell and/or bleed when they brush their teeth.

Although there is no definitive proof to support the theory that oral bacteria affects the heart, it is widely acknowledged better oral health contributes to overall better health. When people take good care of their teeth, get thorough exams, and a professional cleaning twice a year, the buildup of plaque on the teeth is lessened. A healthy, well-balanced diet will also contribute to better oral and heart health. There is a lot of truth to the saying "you are what you eat." If you have any questions about you periodontal disease and your overall health, give our Jacksonville, FL office a call!

Gum Disease and Your Child

January 27th, 2014

At our office, we know that unfortunately, gum disease can exist in your child’s mouth without you even knowing. In fact, your child may be suffering from the beginning stages of periodontal (gum) disease without noticing any pain or discomfort. Since gum disease can be undetectable, it’s critical to watch for the warning signs in order to prevent the disease from growing worse!

If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens as soon as possible:

  • Gums that are red or swollen
  • Gums that feel tender
  • Gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are receding
  • Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loose teeth
  • Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position

If your child is experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment right away by calling our Jacksonville, FL office. Dr. Richard Mullens and our team can diagnose the problem and begin treatment to save your child’s teeth!

Our team at our office looks forward to seeing you!

Common Emergency Care Visits: Toothaches or abscesses

January 20th, 2014

Dental problems do not always wait for normal office hours. Broken fillings or damaged teeth are common reasons for emergency treatment. Toothaches and abscesses can also require prompt attention. Dr. Richard Mullens can provide you with the information and treatment you need to prevent the problem from becoming worse. Emergency dental care is only a phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Abscess

An abscess is a bacterial infection, and will normally cause pain and swelling around the affected tooth and gum area. Antibiotics are not always necessary, but you should seek treatment quickly. Left untreated, an infection can spread and cause serious complications.

Toothache

There are many reasons that you may develop a sudden toothache. The cause of the pain may be a particle of food lodged between your tooth and gum line. One of the first steps you can take is to rinse your mouth with warm water. You may also try gently flossing the area to dislodge the particle. Do not continue flossing if bleeding occurs.

Toothaches can occur from a carie — a cavity in the tooth — or from a fracture. Sensitivity to heat or cold may also cause tooth pain. You should make an appointment to ensure that a minor problem does not become serious. We may recommend acetaminophen or another pain reliever to reduce the pain before your visit.

Additional tips and treatments:

  • If you have fractured a tooth, rinse the area with warm water to keep the surfaces clean. Apply a cold compress to the outside of your facial area to reduce swelling.
  • A tooth that has been knocked out should be kept moist, in a clean container, until you can receive treatment.
  • Do not apply aspirin directly on a damaged tooth or gum area as it can cause tissue irritation.
  • If you suspect that your jaw has been broken, go to an emergency room immediately.
  • If you have bitten or damaged your lips or tongue, rinse your mouth well with warm water. If bleeding continues, call us or seek other medical attention immediately.

Our team at our office is ready to assist you when you have an emergency dental need. When you call, please provide us with as much information as possible so we can offer recommendations that will assist you until your appointment. Do not delay; emergency treatment is available and immediate treatment is the best course of action.

Minimally Invasive Dentistry

January 13th, 2014

As the field of dentistry advances and the use of technology in the field increases, the concept of minimally invasive dentistry has emerged. Preservation of a healthy set of natural teeth for each patient should be the objective of every dentist. Minimally invasive dentistry is characterized by the following core beliefs:

  • Regard original tissue as more valuable than its artificial counterpart.
  • Preserve, rather than replace, original tissue.
  • Focus on the prevention of disease above its treatment.
  • When treatment is necessary, use invasive means as little as possible.

Prevention

  • Prevention begins with good oral hygiene.
  • Dental caries are considered an infectious disease.
  • Early detection of caries and other diseases can prevent the spread of infection and, consequently, further damage to healthy tissue.
  • Infection control can reduce the incidence of restoration practices by as much as 50 percent.
  • Focus on remineralization of enamel and dentin as a preventive effort in treating caries.

Preservation

Our team at our office will tell you the goal of minimally invasive dentistry is to preserve as much original tissue as possible. The preservation of original tissue leaves a tooth stronger in structure than one which has been modified through invasive measures.

When a restoration, such as a filling, must be made to a tooth, a greater amount of healthy tooth tissue than actual decayed tissue is often removed. An estimated 50 to 71 percent of the work a dentist completes involves repair or replacement of previous restorations. The use of durable restoration materials decreases the need for later repair or restoration work.

Treatments

Tooth tissue can be preserved at a greater percentage through the use of innovative adhesive materials. Glass ionomer cements release minerals into the surrounding tooth tissue and help prevent future cavities. Resin-based composite and dentin bonding agents are designed to bond to the enamel and preserve it.

New technology and the invention of small, hand-held tools allow for a less-invasive form of restoration. One such form is air abrasion, a technique that involves using powerful air pressure to direct aluminum oxide particles toward the tooth, which results in a gentler, less-damaging cut to the tooth.

For more information about minimally-invasive surgeries, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens, please give us a call at our convenient Jacksonville, FL office!

What to Look for when Choosing a Mouthwash

January 6th, 2014

Mouthwash is important for more than just keeping your breath fresh and smelling great. Combined with other forms of dental hygiene, it can help prevent plaque, cavities, gingivitis, and other gum diseases. But it may be difficult for you to choose the right mouthwash off the shelf. Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office wanted to share a few things to look for when choosing a mouthwash.

Fluoride mouthwashes

Fluoride has been the subject of many debates in the oral health community. If you live in the United States, the tap water already contains small amounts of fluoride to promote dental health. You may not need to use a fluoride mouthwash if this is the case. However, if you are cavity-prone, fluoride creates a protective film over the teeth that protects against these buildups. It also helps strengthen the enamel over the teeth, maintain good dental hygiene, and keep your teeth strong for the rest of your life.

Alcohol mouthwashes

Alcohol in mouthwash works as an antiseptic: it clears the mouth of germs and some viral infections. However, if you have issues relating to dry mouth, alcohol can exacerbate the problem. If this is the case, consider using an alcohol-free mouthwash. This will free your mouth from the drying effects of the alcohol base. Also, if you have children, you will want to get an alcohol-free children’s mouthwash, because kids are prone to swallowing the substance, and this can lead to toxic side effects. Even if you are an adult using the mouthwash, if it contains alcohol, you should avoid swallowing it.

Antibacterial mouthwashes

Antibacterial mouthwashes have chemicals to help fight gum disease and other infections. Most mouthwash products contain at least trace amounts of these antibacterials; however, some mouthwashes are made specifically to fight bacterial infections. Remember that mouthwash is prevention, not a cure, so if you are presently suffering from a bacterial infection, you should visit our Jacksonville, FL office right away. Dr. Richard Mullens may be able to recommend a more powerful antibacterial mouthwash that can help you reduce your pain and other symptoms.

New Year's Eve

December 30th, 2013

Watching the clock tick down the final seconds until midnight, many of us- our office included- feel nostalgic about the passing year and hopeful about the new one to come. New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world, with over-the-top celebrations taking place in dozens of countries. The Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in Western nations and around the world, was implemented in 1582. Since that time, December 31st has marked the final day of the year, with midnight heralding the beginning of a brand new year. In the United States, New Year’s Day is a public holiday; government offices, schools, public organizations, and many businesses are closed for the day. Ponder the following fun facts as you think about your plans for the holiday:

  • Approximately one billion people watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City. This televised event is one of the most iconic New Year’s celebrations in the world. For many years, watching the ball drop meant tuning in to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, an iconic television special dear to the hearts of many viewers.
  • The idea for the New Year’s Eve ball came about because of a citywide ban on fireworks. Before 1907, when fireworks became illegal in New York City, celebrations included an elaborate fireworks show. The large, glittering, illuminated ball was developed as an alternative. Although the first ball was heavy at 700 pounds, the modern New Year’s Eve ball is made of Waterford crystal and tips the scale at six tons!
  • The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, return to school, or increase personal savings. However, approximately 88% of New Year’s resolutions fail. But don’t let that discourage you! Resolutions are most likely to succeed when they are clear, achievable goals. Setting out a concrete plan to achieve your resolution also boosts your chances of success.
  • Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring good fortune in the new year. Collard greens, cabbage, and ham hocks are also considered lucky foods to enjoy. Just steer clear of the chicken or turkey dinners; eating poultry is a bad omen for the year to come.

Whether you plan to stay in Jacksonville, FL, or head out into the crowds to watch the ball drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy friends and family. Send your loved ones well wishes for the New Year, and look for that special someone to share a midnight kiss with for good luck!

IV Sedation Dentistry: What is it, and how can it help?

December 23rd, 2013

While Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office strive to offer a comfortable and unmatched experience for all our patients, we realize that fear or anxiety while visiting the dentist still affects some of our patients. For those of our patients who need extra comfort and relaxation during their visits, we are more than happy to offer IV sedation, a safe and effective option that provides a deeper and more complete relaxing state than most common oral medications.

Sedation dentistry at our Jacksonville, FL office can turn a nerve-wracking and sweaty-palmed visit into a comfortable and pleasant one, and allows our patients to drift through their appointments, including complex dental work, feeling completely relaxed and without any discomfort or pain.

During sedation, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team will monitor your comfort, providing as much medication as necessary to keep you relaxed. We will also use the best tools we have at our disposal to monitor your vital signs so that you can have peace of mind before your procedure.

Dr. Richard Mullens and our team will be able to tell you if you are a candidate for sedation dentistry and will be more than happy to discuss any concerns, issues, or fears you may have before or during your visit. By talking with us about sedation dentistry, you can feel more comfortable and relaxed during your next visit to our office. Give us a call today!

Pediatric Dentistry Q&A

December 16th, 2013

Today, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office thought we would answer some of the most frequent questions about pediatric dentistry and oral health we hear from parents.

What constitutes a “healthy, balanced diet” for my child?

A healthy, balanced diet contains all the nutrients your child needs to grow, including one serving each of fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish and eggs per day. Make sure your child limits snacking in between meals and limits how frequently they consume food or beverages that contain sugar, which is known to cause tooth decay. Besides pastries, cookies, and candy, sugars are usually found in processed foods such as crackers, cereals, and soda, as well as in condiments like ketchup.

Should my kid give up all foods that contain sugar?

Absolutely not, we simply recommend choosing and serving sugars sparingly. A food with sugar is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. When your child chews during his or her meal, the saliva produced helps neutralize the acids that are found in sugary and starchy foods. Foods that are not easily washed away from your child’s teeth by saliva, water, or milk have more cavity-causing potential.

What causes cavities?

Many types of bacteria live in our mouths—some good, some bad. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on your child’s teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids then attack the enamel, and eventually eat through the enamel and create holes in the teeth, which Dr. Richard Mullens and our team call cavities, or caries.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

This is a great question that we hear a lot. Make sure that your child brushes his teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, as flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing simply can’t. And finally, we encourage you to schedule regular appointments with Dr. Richard Mullens at our Jacksonville, FL office so that we can check the state of your child’s teeth and gums, as well as provide a professional cleaning to protect him or her from cavities and gum disease.

What is the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?

We recommend you clean your baby’s gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. This is even before your baby’s first tooth appears. As soon as his or her first tooth does appear, you may begin using a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore or ask us for one during your next visit.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, we recommend rinsing the irritated area with warm salt water and placing a cold compress on his or her face if it is swollen. If you have any at home, give your child acetaminophen for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the affected teeth or gums. Finally, give us a call as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens.

We hope that helps! Please give us a call if you have any questions or ask us next time you visit our office for your child’s appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens! If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

Five Tips to Help Kids Overcome Their Fears of the Dentist

December 9th, 2013

Is your child nervous about visiting Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office? Today, we put together some tips to help ensure your little one relaxes before his or her next dental checkup!

  1. Start early. The earlier your child visits our Jacksonville, FL office, the better. This will provide your child with a familiarity and ensure that he or she is comfortable with our team, office, and surroundings, whether it’s for a preventive visit or an emergency. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child first visit the dentist at age one or when the first tooth is visible.
  2. Choose your words wisely. When preparing for a visit, go easy on the details. Over-explaining and adding more information about treatment such as a filling will lead to more questions as well as add unnecessary alarm. Remember to keep a positive attitude!
  3. Bring a distraction to your child’s appointment. Bringing along music is a great idea. Just plug in those earphones, have your child close his or her eyes, and get lost in the tunes. Listening to music can also be a pain killer.
  4. Consider a “pretend visit.” Before your child’s appointment, try role playing with him or her—you be the doctor and your child is the patient. All you'll need is a toothbrush. The key is getting your child familiar with the routine so that he or she is more relaxed once it’s time for the real visit with Dr. Richard Mullens.
  5. Stress the importance of good oral health. Instill in your child that visiting the dentist is a necessity, not a choice, and that visiting the dentist will lead to a lifetime of smiles.

We hope this helps! For more on dental anxieties, ask us during your next visit to our office! Or, ask us on Facebook!

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

December 2nd, 2013

In our continuing efforts to provide the most advanced technology and highest quality care available to our patients at our office, we proudly screen our patients for oral cancer. The fact is, every hour of every day in North America, someone dies of oral cancer, which is the sixth most common diagnosed form of the disease. The five-year survival rate is only 50 percent, and oral cancer is one of the few cancers whose survival rate has not improved.

Oral cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, and the floor of the mouth. Symptoms of oral cancer may include a sore in the throat or mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal, a red or white patch that persists, a lump or thickening, ear pain, a neck mass, or coughing up blood. Difficulties in chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaws are often late symptoms. While there is no way to predict exactly which individuals will get oral cancer, there are some potential causes we want you to know about. In some cases, it is possible to minimize these risk factors.

  • Age (most patients diagnosed with oral cancer are over the age of 40)
  • Tobacco use, either from cigarettes or smokeless chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Persistent viral infections, such as HPV16
  • A diet lacking or low in fruits and vegetables

Finding out you have oral cancer can be devastating news. If you are concerned that you might be at risk for developing oral cancer, talk to us about screenings and other things you can do to reduce your risk. Through a routine visual inspection, Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office can often detect premalignant abnormalities and cancer at an early stage, when treatment is both less expensive and more successful, and can potentially save your life. Ask Dr. Richard Mullens and our team at our office about a screening at your next appointment!

Thanksgiving in North America

November 25th, 2013

Thanksgiving marks the start to the holidays; a season filled with feasting, indulging, and spending time with family and friends are always special. Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for giving thanks, and while this may seem like such a natural celebration, the United States is only one of a handful of countries to officially celebrate with a holiday.

Unlike many holidays, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, and it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. In Canada, it is celebrated on the second Monday of October, which is, oddly enough, much closer to a time when harvests were likely gathered. In addition to the different dates, the origins of the celebration also share different roots.

Thanksgiving in the United States

Giving thanks for a bountiful harvest are not new, but the modern day holiday in the US can be traced to a celebration at Plymouth in Massachusetts in 1621. This feast of thanksgiving was inspired by a good harvest, and the tradition was simply continued on. At first, the colony at Plymouth didn't have enough food to feed everyone present, but the Native Americans helped by providing seeds and teaching them how to fish, and they soon began to be able to hold a feast worthy of the name. The tradition spread, and by the 1660s, most of New England was hosting a Thanksgiving feast in honor of the harvest.

Canadian Thanksgiving

An explorer of early Canada named Martin Frobisher is accredited for the first Canadian Thanksgiving. He survived the arduous journey from England through harsh weather conditions and rough terrain, and after his last voyage from Europe to present-day Nunavut, he held a formal ceremony to give thanks for his survival and good fortune. As time passed and more settlers arrived, a feast was added to what quickly became a yearly tradition. Another explorer, Samuel de Champlain, is linked to the first actual Thanksgiving celebration in honor of a successful harvest; settlers who arrived with him in New France celebrated the harvest with a bountiful feast.

A Modern Thanksgiving

Today, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with the best of Americana. From feasts and football games to getting ready for the start of the Christmas shopping season, Thanksgiving means roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, and green bean casserole. No matter how you celebrate this momentous day, pause for a moment to give thanks for your friends, family, and all the bounties you’ve received. Happy Thanksgiving from our office!

My gums are shrinking!

November 18th, 2013

Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed that your teeth looked longer? Does it seem like your gums are shrinking? This condition is called recession—many adults have it. Let’s look at some of the causes and what you can do about it.

During your exam at our office, we will take measurements to check for periodontal disease. Dental professionals take recession measurements to see how much attached gingiva is present. This is the kind of tissue that is most resilient to infection.

The more recession, the less attached gingiva. The less attached gingiva, the less bone support. The less bone support, the higher your chances of tooth loss. It is quite a domino effect.

Don’t lose hope. The effect can be halted once you know the cause of your recession.

Do you ever wake up with your jaw clenched, and/or a headache that originates just above your ears? Clenching or grinding your teeth can cause recession. When there is added stress on a tooth, it flexes at the gum line.

Over time this causes microscopic breaks in the enamel and then a notch appears. The gum line is forced to move away from its original position. If this is something you see in your mouth, we can discuss the possibility of an occlusal guard at your next visit.

How do you brush your teeth? Do you brush in a straight line or circles? What kind of bristles do you use? Are the bristles on your toothbrush frayed?

When you brush in a circle, you are sweeping all along the gum line, removing the plaque from most angles. When you brush in a straight line, you may often miss the concave portion of the gums. This leaves plaque behind and leads to gingivitis. Whenever gingivitis occurs, the body attacks supporting structures like bone while trying to get rid of the infection. This is periodontal disease, which can cause recession.

Recession may also result from an irritant on the gums, such as a bar from a partial denture or orthodontic appliance (braces).

Gums do not “grow back.” The most common treatment for advanced recession is a tissue graft. There are many different kinds of tissue grafts.

Other factors can cause recession. If you think recession is happening in your mouth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens to discuss your options, so you can make the appropriate treatment choice.

Are you a tooth grinder?

November 11th, 2013

Perhaps you had a particularly irritating commute home from work, and you realize at the end that your jaw was clenched tight the entire time. Or maybe you grind your teeth when you are nervous or anxious about an upcoming business meeting. Most people grind their teeth from time to time, but it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of chronic tooth grinding. Known as bruxism, this condition can lead to oral health problems and dental issues later.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism

  • Your partner might complain about the fact that you grind your teeth while you sleep. People who grind their teeth on a regular basis often do so during the night, and aren’t necessarily aware it is happening. However, your partner will more than likely notice if you develop this condition. If he or she mentions that it happens often, you might want to contact our team at our office.
  • You may experience a persistent and unexplained headache if you grind your teeth too often. You may not realize why you have this headache, because you are not aware of the fact that you have been grinding your teeth. Take note of any headaches you have, and if you cannot attribute them to another source, please give us a call to set up an appointment with Dr. Richard Mullens.
  • Your jaw will more than likely become sore if you suffer from bruxism. If you wake up in the morning and have any discomfort in your jaw, you might have spent the night grinding your teeth. Our team can give you tips and advice for managing bruxism.

While many people associate their teeth grinding with stress, it actually is caused more often by crooked teeth, an overbite, or an under bite. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to a variety of complications, including dental injuries, hearing loss, and the onset of TMD. If you think that you might be a chronic tooth grinder, it might be time to set up an appointment at our Jacksonville, FL office in order to find out which treatment options are available to you.

November Marks National Diabetes Awareness Month

November 4th, 2013

Diabetes is a chronic disease that increases the risk for many serious health problems, including severe gum disease. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and it’s a great time for us at our office to remind our patients that the way you care for your teeth at home doesn’t just affect your oral health; keeping your mouth healthy is vital to your overall health, too.

Diabetes is the result of a deficiency, or lack of the hormone insulin to properly transport glucose (blood sugar) to the cells throughout the body. According to the American Diabetes Association, the most common types of diabetes are Type One (90-95 percent of cases), Type Two (five percent), and gestational or pregnancy diabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35 to 60 percent chance of developing diabetes, mostly Type Two, in the ten to 20 years following their pregnancy.

In the past decade, researchers have found links between periodontal (gum) disease and diabetes. Not only are people with diabetes more vulnerable to gum disease, but diabetes may also have the potential to affect blood glucose control, as well as contribute to the advancement of diabetes.

Nearly 26 million Americans currently live with the disease, with an additional 79 million in the pre-diabetes stage. There is some good news we want you to know, however; you can protect your gums and teeth from the effects of diabetes by visiting our Jacksonville, FL office for an exam. Patients who are living with diabetes may require more often visits to ensure their dental health remains in tip-top shape. Many insurance plans provide expanded benefits for diabetic patients, and Dr. Richard Mullens can tell you how often you need to come in for an appointment.

For more information on how we can help, please do not hesitate to give us a call at our Jacksonville, FL office.

What do you love about our office?

January 25th, 2013


From your very first visit to our office, we strive to provide superior treatment in a pleasant, friendly atmosphere. We are always updating our office with the most advanced and up-to-date dental technologies and methods and are here to get to know you personally and find out how we might make your dental visit a wonderful one!

We thought we’d ask you, our wonderful patients: Have you been especially impressed by our work? Did our team go out of their way to make your day? Are you in love with your smile?

Whether you’ve just come in for a one appointment or your family has been visiting our office for years, we’d love to hear your feedback below. Or, you can tell us by posting on our Facebook page!

Apps to help you achieve those 2013 New Year's Resolutions!

January 4th, 2013

With 2012 over, we thought we would ask you, our patients: what was memorable about 2012 for you, and what are you looking forward to in 2013? Do you have a new year’s resolution or any exciting plans for the coming year?

 

Here are the top resolutions for 2013, and some great free iOS and Android apps to help you achieve your 2013 resolutions!

 

Eat Healthier:

Fooducate

iOS Download | Android Download

Lose weight, eat real food, and get healthy. Fooducate grades your groceries, explains what's really inside each product, and offers healthier alternatives. We've got the largest database of UPCs - over 200,000 unique products and growing.

 

Work out / Exercise More:

NPT BOOM

iOS Download | Android Download

Nike BOOM syncs your music to your dynamic training workouts, with the world’s most elite athletes and coaches motivating you along the way. Choose your type of workout, length of training, best workout music and favorite Nike athletes—then get to work.

 

Become More Organized:

Wunderlist

iOS Download | Android Download

Wunderlist 2 is the easiest way to manage and share your daily to-do lists. Whether you’re planning an overseas adventure, sharing a shopping list with a loved one, or simply keeping track of your daily to-dos, Wunderlist is here to help you get things done.

 

Gain More Control of Finances:

Mint.com App

iOS Download | Android Download

Mint.com allows you to track, budget and manage your money all in one place, so you can see where you’re spending and where you can save. Open an account, add your bank, credit, loan and retirement accounts and Mint will automatically pull in and categorize your transactions. It’s safe, secure and easy to keep your personal finances organized.

 

Expand Social Circle:

SupperKing

iOS Download | Android Download

If you're trying to expand your friend circle in 2013, or maybe just plan more exciting activities with your current friends, apps like Sonar and Highlight can connect you to new people. A new iOS app called SupperKing is like Airbnb for at-home meals. You can charge strangers cash to enjoy a meal at your place with you -- an idea that not everyone is game for. But the app is also great for organizing dinner parties with your friends.

 

We want to wish all our patients, friends, family and all our colleagues a happy and healthy New Year!

 

Sources: Mashable, PolicyMic

Welcome to Our Blog!

October 28th, 2011

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. Please check back often for weekly updates on fun and exciting events happening at our office, important and interesting information about dentistry and the dental industry, and the latest news about our practice.

Feel free to leave a comment or question for our doctor and staff – we hope this will be a valuable resource for our patients, their families, and friends!