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Don Swearingen, DDS Blog

Did Miley Cyrus Get Lumineers?

December 28, 2017

person smiling next to dental itemsMiley Cyrus seems to have a new smile that’s really pretty. Her old smile wasn’t bad, but this is much better. I was wondering if you could tell me if it’s Lumineers because I’ve been thinking of getting these.

Misty C.


Who Should Pay for Emergency Dental Visits?

December 15, 2017

insurance stampI go to this club regularly. It’s always been fine. There’s music, dancing, and drinking. Lots of fun. I don’t know what happened but a fight broke out two days ago. I wasn’t involved, but someone clocked me in the mouth with their elbow. It was significant enough where there was blood involved but my mom always said the mouth bleeds easily. This morning, though, one of my teeth is gray looking. Is this a dental emergency? Do I have to pay it or can the dentist bill the guy who clocked me? I know who he is.

Devon H.


May Need to Find a New Compassionate Dentist

November 25, 2017

dentist with male patientI’ve been going to the same dental clinic for a while. My dentist had a tragedy in his family and decided to retire early. I loved him because he was so compassionate. He knew I was skittish in the dental chair and always took his time so I’d feel comfortable. He’d talk me through everything. I know for certain that he did talk to the person who took over his practice about my anxiety because he told me he did. Yet, when I went in for my first appointment, I felt rushed. He exam also felt a bit rough to me. By the end of it I was shaking. There were lots more people there than usual. The wait was longer than I’d ever experienced and when I signed in I noticed that several of us were down for the same exact appointment time. I wonder if I should look for a new dentist. I don’t think it’s going to be at all like my old clinic.

Danielle L.


Will a Pediatric Dentist Whiten a Child’s Teeth?

November 15, 2017

patient teeth whiteningMy husband’s teeth have always been an ugly yellow, bordering on brown. I thought it was because he didn’t take care of his teeth, but now that my son’s adult teeth are coming in they have the same look. I monitor his brushing. He does it regularly and correctly. I don’t want my son growing up with my husband’s smile. Can a pediatric dentist whiten his teeth?



My Dentist Told Me Not to Use Lumineers to Fix My Gap

October 28, 2017

kid with missing toothI saw an advertisement on television for Lumineers. The commercial said it could fix tooth gaps. I’ve had a gap and never realized it could be fixed without braces. So on my next appointment, I told my dentist I wanted Lumineers to fix my gap. He said that was a waste of money and wants to do dental bonding instead. Shouldn’t I decide what to do with my teeth?

Marc G.


Am I In Danger After Emergency Dentist Perforated My Sinus?

October 12, 2017

I’m really worried something is seriously wrong. I recently had a friend die from an infection that grew out of control and I want to be careful not to allow myself to get into the same situation. I’ll admit up front I don’t like dentists and haven’t been to one in a few years. So, I wasn’t extraordinarily surprised when my molar started hurting. I called an emergency dentist and he told me to come on in. When I got there he said my molar and two other teeth need to be extracted. I was disappointed but realized I’d caused the problem. So, I agreed to the extractions. He was willing to do them right at that moment. Though scared, I did want to just get it over with. The procedure took a bit, but I got through it. When it was done, they never mentioned anything went wrong. I went home thinking outside of feeling like a Hillbilly with my missing teeth, everything should be okay from here. Then my nose started making these “popping” sounds when I breathe. I called the office and they said to take a decongestant, never hinting at a problem. The pain grew worse and I developed a fever. I called them back asking to come in and have them look at it. They told me not to come in and they’d just call me in an antibiotic. I took that but still continued getting worse. I was two weeks out from the procedure and started having discharge. The fever is still there too. This time I didn’t give them a choice and just told them I was on my way in, not wanting to risk a spreading infection. It wasn’t until I was in the chair again that they said they’d perforated my sinus during the extraction. They went in and pulled out bone fragments. I couldn’t believe it. They said that should take care of the problem and sent me home with a refill on the antibiotic. It’s five days later and nothing has improved. What do I do? Am I in danger?

Hailey M.

Dear Hailey,

Oklahoma City Emergency Dentist

Wow! What a disaster. This emergency dentist has totally blown this situation. In the first place, they should have let you know immediately when your sinus was perforated. Not only is it your body, but you need to know what the protocol for healing is. For instance, in your case, it would be dangerous to blow your nose normally at this point. It needs to be treated gently.

That being said, I wouldn’t panic, though it does need to be dealt with promptly. You’re right that infections can’t be left untreated and it sounds to me like you’re on the wrong antibiotic. Truthfully, you should have been feeling better after just two days on an antibiotic. If you don’t, something’s wrong.

You may need to see an ENT at this point. Tell them exactly what you told me and they should get you in right away. At the very least, get your primary care physician to give you the right antibiotic. Try to find an emergency ENT. Most of these will heal on their own, but if it doesn’t, you may need surgery.

I’d also like to address your aversion to dentists. First, don’t feel guilty about that. Many people feel exactly the same way. Though, because it’s causing you to lose teeth I want to see if we can’t help give you a positive experience at the dentist (especially after this last one!). I’d like you to consider trying dental sedation. It will completely give you a much more pleasant experience at the dentist. In addition to making your dental care easier it will allow you to have more work done at each visit.

Additionally, you’ll need to look at tooth replacement options. Ideally, you’d want dental implants. But, if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you may have some gum disease that needs to be dealt with first. IF you don’t, you could lose all your teeth.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Don Swearingen.

My Dentist Has a Magic Wand for Painless Injections!

September 27, 2017

I couldn’t believe what my last dental appointment was like. My dentist bought this new thing called a Wand injection system. I told him he should call it a magic wand. For the first time in my life I was given a painless injection. Why doesn’t every dentist have this?

Vivian E.

Dear Vivian

Cater to Cowards Dentist

The Wand really is amazing. I love your idea of calling it the magic wand. In fact, it might be fun to decorate it that way for Halloween (or every day) at pediatric dental clinics. Painless injections are a true blessing. This device has changed many patients from fearful to cheerful at their dentist’s office.

While Dr. Swearingen has the Wand Injection System, not every dentist does. So, what’s a patient with dental anxiety to do? There are other ways of dealing with terror at the dentist’s office. However, it requires going to the right type of dentist. Dentists who specialize in dealing with fearful patients.

You can find them doing a two-fold internet search.

1. Look up dentists using some special key phrases such as, “cater to cowards dentist”, “sedation dentist”, or “gentle dentist”.

2. Check their reviews. Saying you’re a gentle dentist and actually being one are two different things. Look up what patients have said about them on sites such as Yelp! or Google Reviews. If they’ve had good experiences, you can feel a little more confident that you will too.

Avoiding the dentist because of fear often leads to disastrous, emergency dental situations that cost a fortune to repair and lead to significantly more pain than if you’d just kept up with your dental care to begin with. It’s much better to protect your teeth than replace them. While patients know this when they’re feeling calm and rational, fear makes people irrational; causing them to make poor decisions.

Hopefully, these tools will change their outlook and make it easier for them to get adequate dental care.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Don Swearingen.

Can Breastfed Babies Skip the One Year Dental Check-Up?

September 13, 2017

I keep getting conflicting information about dental care with children. Though, I shouldn’t ‘be too surprised. I’ve only been a mom for 11 months, but so far every piece of advice or book I’ve read on child rearing has contradicted another piece of advice or book. I can read two different articles and the same action I take will either help my son grow up to be an independent genius or scar him for life. So, now I have to decide about his first dental appointment. He’s been exclusively breast fed and we’re about to start introducing table food to him. I’ve heard two things. 1. Breastfeeding is safer for teeth than formula feeding, therefore they don’t need the one-year-old check-up. 2. Every child, no matter how they’re fed, needs to have the one-year-old check-up to screen for abnormal tooth development. So, what’s your opinion?

Carlyn M.

Dear Carlyn,

Oklahoma City Pediatric Dentist

You’re right about all the conflicting in formation out there. The one thing you’ll learn throughout your lifetime as a mother is that every child is different. No child fits the norms. Because so much of the information contradicts itself, most of the time you’ll be left with following your mother’s intuition.

One thing that is true is the breastfeeding and bottle feeding have very different effects on teeth. First is the physical differences. While formula tends to pool by children’s teeth, breast milk is sent to the back of the mouth away from their teeth. Secondly, their “ingredients” for lack of a better word are different. We know that breastmilk has properties we haven’t been able to copy in formula. There is mounting evidence that the contents in breastfeeding protect children from cavities.

It would imply that breastfed children do not need to see a pediatric dentist as often. However, as you’ve learned, every child is different.

Reasons for Breastfed Children to See a Pediatric Dentist

  • Bacteria Parents with gum disease have higher levels of bacteria. That bacteria is shared through kissing and the sharing of food. As you’re about to introduce table food, that is something to consider.
  • Cavities There is always a potential for cavities. Some breastfed babies fall asleep while nursing. Generally, the fact that the milk is sent to the back of their mouth engages their swallowing reflex so no milk pools. However, sometimes the milk flows a bit after the baby stops sucking and can pool at their teeth. There isn’t evidence it does or does not cause cavities yet, but the potential is there, especially if they’re pre-disposed to decay. Which leads me to my next point.
  • Genetic Make-up Every family is different. Two people can have the same oral hygiene routine and skill. One will be cavity free, the other will end up with a mouth full of fillings and crowns simply because of their DNA.
  • Abnormal Development Your son’s teeth starting developing in the womb. Going right along with genetic issues is the possibility of abnormal development. Whenever you have an abnormality in the development of children’s teeth, it is always easier to treat the earlier it is discovered.

Your Child’s First Pediatric Dental Visit

The first visit isn’t as focused on cavities, though of course that is checked. The dentist will also check their development to make sure no intervention needs to take place. Mostly, though, it’s designed to give your son a positive experience at the dentist and show him how fun it can be.

All too often, parents wait until their son or daughter has a dental emergency pop up before bringing them in. From that moment on, they’ll associate the dentist with pain. Not to mention the more distressing procedures could likely have been avoided altogether if they’d brought them in regularly.

Insurance almost always covers the child’s first visit in full, so it won’t cost you anything but a bit of time.

I hope this helps.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Don Swearingen.

Help! My Lumineers Don’t Match Each Other

August 29, 2017

Can you help me? I specifically decided on the Lumineers brand of veneers for my smile makeover because I didn’t want my teeth ground down. I’m worried I have a defective batch. When the dentist placed them on my teeth, I noticed two of the teeth didn’t match the others. They seemed a bit darker than the others. I mentioned it to the dentist right then, but he assured me it was just the lighting in his office. However, even when I got home they looked darker. I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but it seems like they’re still getting darker. What do I do?

Paula M.

Dear Paula,

Oklahoma City Lumineers

I don’t think the batch is defective. Instead, it sounds to me like the dentist didn’t get the bonding correct on the two that look discolored. Bear in mind that I haven’t actually examined you. I’m basing this on your description.

If the bonding wasn’t done properly a couple of things can happen. First, things can get trapped behind the veneer between that and your tooth. Lumineers are very thin. If there’s discoloration underneath it will show through. Secondly, whatever’s trapped behind the veneer will be a haven for bacteria and will lead to decay. Plus, without a secure bond, you risk the veneers coming off. Though in this case, falling off is a good thing, so they can be properly bonded.

It doesn’t sound like you have a highly skilled cosmetic dentist. Not only was the bonding not done properly on two of them, but he didn’t take your concern seriously enough in my opinion. A skilled, artistic cosmetic dentist will ALWAYS make sure the client is thrilled before permanently bonding on their work. Additionally, they allow the patient to look at the veneers in several different types of lighting to ensure they’re pleased with the results. Many also have a beautiful smile guarantee.

In this case, because they’re new and the dentist made an error (If my thoughts are correct) then he should be willing to replace them free of charge. They’ll have to be removed and new ones made if they break in the process of trying to remove them.

If he balks, you can get a second opinion from another cosmetic dentist. Don’t tell the second opinion doc who your dentist is, in case they’re buddies. If the second dentist agrees with my assumption then it will be easier to put pressure on your dentist to make things right.

There’s something I wanted to clear up. You mentioned you specifically chose the Lumineers brand over other porcelain veneers because you didn’t want your teeth ground down. Porcelain veneers, no matter what brand you use, do not require your teeth to be ground. You’re thinking of porcelain crowns. Because they surround your entire tooth, your teeth have to be ground down to almost nubs in order to make room for the crown.

Porcelain veneers only require very minimal shaving, about the depth of your fingernail. There is no visible difference between a shaved and unshaved tooth.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Don Swearingen.

A Ninja Kicked My Tooth. Can It Be Saved?

August 12, 2017

Filed under: Dental Emergency — Tags: , , — okcitydentist @ 3:50 pm

I was playing with my son. He was a ninja. Everything was fine until he did a jump kick off the couch which caught me in the mouth. I thought it was okay. It hurt for a bit, but then felt better. However, this morning the teeth feel a little loose. Whenever I jiggle them, they move. Am I going to lose them or can they be saved?

Mary W.

Dear Mary,

The most important thing to do right now is to stop messing with it. There are ligaments holding them in place. They’re stretched right now, but if you keep messing with them they could snap. Then you will lose your teeth.

The next thing to do is call your dentist’s office. They need to stabilize your teeth somehow. There are several methods to chose from, but they need time to heal. If you don’t have a dentist, you can do an internet search for an emergency dentist. Many of them will see you the same day, even if you’re not a patient. Protecting it and keeping it in place may give it time to heal. Though, if the pulp is damaged then a root canal procedure may be necessary.

In the meantime, make sure you’re babying the tooth as much as possible. It might not be a bad idea to avoid ninjas for a while too.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Don Swearingen.

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