• What lies beneath

    15 November 2009 . Posted by Sarah in Smile Stories

    To look at Peter you would never know he had a serious fear. He is a busy doctor, musician, father and husband, and a committed scuba diver and cyclist. But lurking beneath his confident exterior Peter was suffering from dental phobia.

    By definition, dental phobia (also known as dentophobia or odontophobia) is an unexplained fear of dentistry and of seeking dental care. And while this is essentially a psychological and behavioral problem, it easily becomes a physical issue once dental problems arise and people are not able to seek proper treatment.

    “I had let my teeth get to a stage where I had the molars of a hobo. I looked ok but there were lots of things I couldn‘t eat or which hurt to eat. I knew once we started we were going to have to do a fair bit of work,” Peter says. “I have logged nearly 200 Scuba hours including caves and wrecks, and all sorts of things for which confidence and training is needed, so I don’t think of myself as a fearful person. It struck me as a bit odd that I couldn’t sit in the dentists chair.”

    Dr Cameron Arnold is no stranger to the effect of dental phobia on people’s mental and physical health. “You see this in people that they tend to neglect their mouth a bit because they are paranoid about going to the dentist. They just put having treatment off until it reaches a crisis point when it is too uncomfortable to bear,” Cameron says.

    “For people like Peter, who are nervous to begin with, they only want to put their trust in one person. For that reason it was good that we were able to do everything from his root canal to his restorative and aesthetic work under the one roof.”

    So how is Peter’s dental phobia now?

    “I just recently had a five hour session in preparation for crowns and it was no drama at all. I think that means I am officially cured!” Peter laughs.

  • A smile that lights up a room

    01 October 2009 . Posted by Sarah in Smile Stories

    If there’s one thing Jenny’s work as a hairdresser has taught her, it is that people who make the effort to look good usually end up feeling good about themselves as well.

    So it is hardly surprising that when Jenny decided she wasn’t happy with the look of her teeth she decided to do something about it. “Obviously I have to deal with fashion and the way people look, and I guess I wanted to feel better about the way I came across as well,” Jenny says.

    Given that Dr Cameron Arnold saw Jenny regularly (as one of her hairdressing clients), it was inevitable that she would voice some of her concerns about her smile to him during his time in her chair. As always, Cameron was happy to talk teeth.

    “Essentially we had someone with a very pretty face and very photogenic but then when she smiled she had spaces in between her front teeth and some damage to the enamel which detracted from everything,” Cameron says. “When you have that sort of damage to front teeth it really prematurely ages you and so (when you correct it) the reverse applies.”

    After the addition of 4 veneers to her upper front four teeth, Jenny is having a difficult time keeping up with the compliments. “It’s given me a lot of confidence. Everyone always comments on how nice my teeth are so I don’t feel self conscious. I am more than happy to flash my pearly whites now!” 

  • Even more reasons to smile

    29 July 2009 . Posted by Sarah in Smile Stories

    Anita loves her new retirement lifestyle. She has time to slow down, paint, and enjoy the glorious sandy beaches near her home at Mission Beach.

    But it wasn’t so long ago that her attention was focused on more painful things. The many years spent smoking in her youth combined with a fear of going to the dentist meant that she was faced with a problem most people would rather avoid.

    “It’s always hard to tell a patient they are going to lose teeth,” says Dr Arnold. Anita remembers being so shocked to hear that she was going to lose her whole set of top teeth that she broke down in response. “I wasn’t ready for it at all,” says Anita.“But we were able to save the bottom teeth so it was lucky for me that I went to him early enough.”

    The days when your only option for missing teeth was to put up with a gap or to get full dentures are gone. Instead, many people these days are choosing dental implants. Dental implants provide several advantages over other tooth replacement options. But basically their major selling point is that they look and function like a natural tooth. This meaning that they are locked solid into your jaw so you can bite into all of your favourite foods. And implants are cleaned exactly like you would your natural teeth.

    “They don’t move and I really, really like them,” says Anita.

    Cameron is happy with the results as well, “She just lights up when you ask her to smile and she looks completely natural.”

  • No more migraines

    03 September 2007 . Posted by Cameron in Smile Stories

    Danielle Dixon, a young marine biologist, came to our practice to see if there was anything we could do to help alleviate the migraines and jaw problems that had plagued her since childhood. They’d become so severe of late that her GP had referred her to an oral surgeon, who recommended surgery.

    From sixth grade, Danielle had suffered from what she described as “wicked headaches” – migraines with vomiting. She had undergone a myriad of medical tests, which had failed to identify any illness or tumours. Ultimately, she had to deal with the pain using medication.

    In ninth grade, Danielle was involved in a car accident. She sustained head injuries and suffered subsequent jaw dislocation and seizures. The migraines became so severe she was taking up to 20 painkillers a day and was occasionally hospitalised. Some years later, Danielle was involved in a second car accident, further exacerbating her headaches. From time to time, her jaw would lock open.

    Danielle is currently researching clown fish for her masters degree in marine biology. As a result of her studies, she spends a lot of her time underwater, kitted out with scuba-diving gear. Danielle was finding it increasingly difficult to hold the regulator in her mouth and stay underwater for extended periods.

    Her research had taken her to Papua New Guinea, and she was terrified of being stuck in PNG’s jungles with her jaw locked open!

    Danielle had heard about the work we’ve been doing with neuromuscular dentistry. She thought she’d give us a go before facing the surgeon’s knife. Using a computer system that creates a 3D analysis of the jaw, we measured Danielle’s jaw muscle activity and digitally tracked the movement of her jaw. This enabled us to identify Danielle’s ideal jaw position. We then made an orthotic to temporarily adjust her bite. Danielle noticed an improvement immediately.

    Only 10 weeks later, she was totally symptom-free. No headaches. No jaw dislocation. And no medication.

    Today, Danielle is happily diving again, completing her masters research. She couldn’t thank us enough for getting her work back on track and putting the smile back on her face.

  • I loved to laugh but I hated my smile

    I loved to laugh but I hated my smile

    05 July 2007 . Posted by Cameron in Smile Stories

    When Debbie Bellamy came to us, we took her through our usual getting-to-know-you procedures – everything from a comprehensive oral health examination to a lengthy discussion about her dental health, medical history and general concerns, complaints and desires.

    After listening to Debbie for some time, it was obvious her teeth were giving her grief. Debbie wasn’t happy with the appearance of her smile. “I love to laugh,” she told us, “but I’ve always hated my smile. To me, it’s ugly. No matter how much time I spend dressing up, I’ve never felt pretty.”

    Debbie explained how she’d cover her mouth when laughing, avoid the camera at weddings and never wear lipstick, not wanting to draw attention to her mouth.

    She had a few gaps between her teeth and some old crowns that were starting to show their age and look a bit lifeless. She was keen to see what her options were for improving her smile. We did a ‘smile assessment’ and prepared a treatment plan for Debbie, showing her how porcelain veneers could improve the colour, shape, size, angulation and orientation of her teeth to give her the smile she’d always dreamed of. She couldn’t book in fast enough.

    We showed Debbie through our ‘smile catalogue’ and helped her choose the right style of veneer to suit her face, mouth and existing teeth, as well as appealing to her personal preferences. Debbie chose a very feminine, natural-looking smile.

    We then set about getting the colour of the veneers just right to perfectly suit her complexion. Debbie’s new smile was then prepared and completed over two visits. She now has a beautiful and, most importantly, perfectly natural looking smile. Her porcelain veneers are indistinguishable from her own teeth.

    Debbie says she can’t stop smiling. She even wrote us a beautiful card to say thank you. “You’ve given me a great smile and changed the way I feel about myself. I cried from the time I left your surgery until I got home,” Debbie’s letter said.

    “I feel more confident. I even got a promotion I never thought I’d get. For 25 years, I had a smile I was ashamed of and it took you three hours to correct. Thank you for what you have given me. I can’t stop smiling. You should see the lipsticks I’ve bought!”

  • Baby Talk

    14 May 2007 . Posted by Cameron in Smile Stories

    When Alita Parry called us asking if we had a dental laser, the young mum was thrilled to discover we did indeed. Alita then went on to explain that her 10-month old baby Thomas was ‘tongue-tied’ – the tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth was too tight, restricting the free movement of the tongue.

    This meant the baby boy was unable to poke out his tongue, and, more to the point, unable to breastfeed. Left untreated, the condition would also result in speech problems and poor development and positioning of the teeth as Thomas grew.

    You may be surprised to know this condition isn’t uncommon, with research suggesting three to four per cent of babies are born tonguetied. Dentists and oral surgeons regularly perform a procedure to correct the problem, removing the restrictive tissue to enable full movement of the tongue for correct feeding and speech.

    However, the procedure typically requires anaesthetic. To make matters worse, Alita was told there was a two-year waiting list to have the procedure performed in hospital.

    So she started casting around for a second opinion, wondering if a dental laser could provide a solution. We assured her that, yes, it could. 

    “The dental laser has revolutionised surgical and tooth preparation
    procedures, making life much easier for the dentist and patient alike,”
    says Dr Cameron Arnold. “It’s so gentle, most patients report no discomfort whatsoever without anaesthetic. It’s also very precise, so there’s no risk to surrounding tissue. And healing time is reduced considerably. So it’s ideal for performing such a delicate procedure as correcting a tongue-tie on an infant.”

    Cameron was able to fix baby Thomas’ tongue-tie quickly and easily, without anaesthetic. And the treatment site healed quickly. Thomas clearly wasn’t in any pain, either during or after the procedure.

    “The first thing he did afterwards was poke his tongue out at me,” says Cameron. “It was great to see because he’d never been able to do that before! Needless to say, his mum Alita was very relieved and grateful for the result.”

  • A better bite

    12 March 2007 . Posted by Cameron in Smile Stories

    Errol Wolf came to us for a routine check-up. He mentioned in passing that he’d been suffering from bad headaches and migraines, which had been gaining in frequency and severity. He couldn’t fly or drive long distances without getting a migraine. Some could last three days.

    Errol was at a loss as to the cause of the headaches and what to do about them. He had his eyes tested – negative. He noticed that eating certain foods or missing meals could aggravate the problem. So he eliminated the problem foods from his diet and made sure never to miss meals. But the headaches persisted. He consulted various medical and healthcare practitioners – to no avail. And, to make matters worse, painkillers had little effect.

    I really felt for Errol – he was clearly in a lot of discomfort – and I was confident Neuromuscular Dentistry could help him. I explained what it was all about. He may have thought it sounded strange but I think he was ready to give anything a go.

    So we examined Errol’s teeth, bite and jaw. We determined his ideal bite and jaw position, then prepared an orthotic to adjust his bite. We hoped to see a result in two to three months. We would continue to adjust the orthotic every two weeks as Errol’s bite improved.

    Errol kept a headache diary to monitor our progress. Before we commenced treatment, he was suffering 30 headaches a month. After a month of treatment, the number of migraines he suffered were reduced by 90 per cent.

  • A natural smile for life

    A natural smile for life

    14 February 2007 . Posted by Cameron in Smile Stories

    Maintaining good oral health isn’t just about having a nice smile and staying out of the dentist’s chair. Healthy teeth and gums are also essential for eating the wide variety of foods our bodies need and our tastebuds enjoy.

    In fact, researchers estimate that people who retain their natural teeth live an average of up to 10 years longer because of better nutrition and therefore better health. Poor oral health and hygiene can lead to problems ranging from communication difficulties to debilitating diseases. But with the right care, both at your dentist’s and at home, you can look forward to keeping your natural smile for life.

    Maureen Balgue is living, smiling proof. Maureen is one of our many long-term patients. She’s fit and healthy and won’t mind me saying that, in 72 years, she’s lost only one tooth – a considerable achievement.

    There’s no reason anyone needs to put up with dentures, now or in the future. Regular visits to your dentist and dental hygienist, combined with carefully following a customised home-care plan prepared for you by your hygienist, will help you maintain your natural smile for life.

    But if you do lose a tooth or part of a tooth, whether through an accident,
    deterioration or disease, there are many solutions for filling the gap. Crowns, bridges and dental implants, for instance, are vastly superior to
    dentures in appearance, performance and ease of care.

    Whatever your age, there are particular aspects of your oral health that
    should be closely monitored and managed. Of particular concern for
    seniors are dental cavities (especially on the root surfaces), gum disease
    (the single leading cause of adult tooth loss), oral disease/oral cancer,
    dental stomatitis (irritation of the tissue under a denture), dry mouth, tooth
    erosion and tooth sensitivity (resulting from worn enamel or receding
    gum tissue).

    Whatever your age, I think we can all take a page from Maureen’s book.

    “What’s important to me,” Maureen says, “is good nutrition, exercise and
    having fun with family and friends. How sad to think ‘I wish I’d looked after
    my teeth...’ Prevention is better than cure.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.