During this Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Schafer and his team are remaining open for dental emergencies per CDC and ADA guidelines but are postponing all other treatment until the health authorities give clearance. Dental emergencies included painful or sensitive teeth or anything that seems like it is worsening.  If you are having a dental emergency, call us today and we will help you out.
Nola Dentures and General Dentistry
A Great Dentist

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can we help you?

Having questions when choosing a dentist is natural! After all, your oral health is an important part of your overall health. Here is a list of some of the most common questions we receive. If you do not see yours listed below, please give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you.

Full Dentures

Partial dentures | Dentist Gretna LA At NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry, we offer two different types of partials: metal partials and acrylic partials. Metal partials have a strong metal base with esthetic gums and teeth placed on them whereas acrylic partials have no metal base but may have metal components to connect the partial to the teeth.

Metal Partial Dentures

Dr. Schafer recommends metal partials when the partial is meant to last for more than 2 years. As you might assume, the metal base is much stronger than the acrylic base. Because of this strength, the partial is more comfortable to chew with. Also, these partials can act as a brace to help support the other teeth and keep them locked into place so that they don't drift over time.  Finally, these partials tend to be lighter and thinner as the metal base can remain strong even when made very thin.

Acrylic Partial Dentures

On the other hand, Dr. Schafer recommends acrylic partials when the partial is meant to last less than 2 years. These partials can also be made much quicker than the metal partial. The metal partial typically takes 4 to 5 appointments to make whereas the acrylic partial usually only take two. The final reason that many people choose acrylic partials is that they are less expensive than metal partials. The reason why they are less expensive is that they are easier for the lab technician to make and the materials are not as expensive. 

Older couple smiling | Dentist in Gretna LA Generally, a new set of dentures does not require any denture adhesive. However, many patients who have worn dentures for a long period of time feel more secure wearing denture adhesive. The denture adhesive in these cases fills in the gaps between the denture and the gums. These gaps form over time as the gums change shape and shrink which is why it is recommended to have a new liner placed in the dentures every 5 to 8 years and a new denture made every 8 to 10 years. While the adhesive works well for a short-term measure, the problem with long-term use is that it creates pressure spots on the denture causing faster shrinking of the gums.

Dental Implants over Adhesive

When patients feel that they need adhesive as soon as a new set is made, it is a better idea to start considering implants. While implants are more expensive than adhesive, they allow for the denture to feel more natural and chew more comfortably. 

Woman getting dentures | Gretna LA DenturesShort answer, yes it will at one point or another. While Dr. Schafer makes a lot of fantastic dentures, no matter how good of a job he does, a denture can still be removed by the hands, which means that it can fall out of the mouth. For first-time denture wearers, the dentures will slip out simply because the mouth has not learned how to work around the denture and the denture feels foreign. It is especially true if it is an immediate or healing denture. Dr. Schafer works with each of his patients to help them feel comfortable while learning to use their denture because it is important that everyone feels comfortable with their smile.

 

The upper denture or maxillary denture as dentists call it works mostly due to suction that it gets from the roof of the mouth or the palate. As It is often larger than the lower denture or mandibular denture but is generally more comfortable than the lower denture. It will move slightly during chewing, but it is generally tolerated very well by most patients as the suction allows it to chew acceptably. To break the suction in order to remove the upper denture, Dr. Schafer recommends that you place your thumbs behind the front teeth and gently push forward which breaks the suction.

 

older couple | Dentist Gretna LA Lower dentures can be difficult to wear and are the source of many headaches with denture wearers. Many dentists shy away from doing dentures altogether due to the common complaints with lower dentures. While most denture wearers adjust to their lower dentures, many simply carry it around in their pocket or leave it on their nightstand. 

The biggest reason why the lower denture is uncomfortable is because it doesn't "suck" like the upper denture. The shape of the upper jaw and palate allow the upper denture to have some suction and stay in place on the upper palate. The lower jaw is U-shaped and very rarely provides any suction and relies on the bony ridge to secure it. If you have bone loss, which is common with tooth loss, you may not have sufficient enough of a ridge to support your lower denture effectively.

The second reason is that there are more muscles around a lower denture which can move it from side to side. The tongue is right next to the lower denture and is a powerful muscle that has to learn new habits to adapt to it. Also, the cheek muscles and chewing muscles which attach to the lower jaw can lift the denture and push it out of place. 

For more help with your dentures, call our Gretna, LA dental office

group of people smiling in kitchen | Dentist Gretna LA The type of foods that denture wearers can eat depends mostly on practice. Much like an athlete does not start training program by running a marathon, new denture wearers cannot start practicing on tough, chewy foods. Eating with dentures requires practice because not only does your tongue, lips, and cheeks have to move food around to eat, but these muscles also have to manage the dentures in your mouth.    

Dr. Schafer recommends that patients start with drinking fluids and eating softer foods such as baked fish, mashed potatoes, eggs, and yogurt. After these foods have been mastered, the next level is soft chewy foods and crispy foods. Foods such as steamed carrots, pasta, and bananas are great as well as dry cereal such as Cheerios. Also at this time, you should start trying to eating boiled crawfish and shrimp. The third level is chewier and crispier foods such as berries, fried seafood, hamburgers without a bun, and white bread. Most denture wearers can get to the third level with enough practice, but only some can pass this level to tougher foods such as chicken, pork, or broccoli. The hardest level is foods such as whole apples, steak, corn on the cob, and dressed po-boys. Dressed po-boys are especially challenging because of the many different types of foods and textures.

While Dr. Schafer has met some denture patients with an iron lock bite, most find these initial learning period frustrating as they want to go back to eating the foods they enjoy. Thankfully with today's technology, most of this learning can be avoided with implants. The implants will help retain a denture in the right spot so that the tongue, cheeks, and lips can focus on assisting with chewing the food.

dentures | Gretna LA DentistYes, your smile will look natural.  

Many cheaper dentures have teeth only come in one or two colors with only three or four sizes of teeth. Also, the gums are bright pink and flat which adds to the phony appearance. While these dentures can pass muster for quick smile between strangers, friends, and family will be able to notice the fakeness. The teeth will look like unnaturally straight and monotone chiclets that stick out from the gums.

Dr. Schafer will customize your denture not only to fit your mouth but find the right size and shape of teeth so that your smile does not look "generic." The newer denture teeth can have a similar shine and color as natural teeth and the gums can be matched to look like your own gums. Also, most people don't realize that straight or "perfect" teeth don't always look the most natural on everyone. Sometimes it's the imperfections that make a smile unique and real. Dr. Schafer gives his patients the option between perfectly straight "Hollywood" teeth or a more natural appearance. We create dentures that will make you feel good about the way you look. Patients leave our office smiling with their new dentures!

Lower dentures or mandibular dentures differ from upper dentures or maxillary dentures as lower dentures are kept in place with the tongue and cheeks compared to the upper denture which uses suction. The lower denture requires more practice to wear as the muscles need to be trained to keep the prosthesis in place. The best way to practice with a lower denture is to place the tongue right behind the lower front teeth. When the tongue places force on this one area, the denture stays seated against the bones on the ridge. The lower denture generally requires more practice to master compared to the upper denture as the tongue has to learn new muscle patterns to learn how to talk and to chew. 

How do you get to be a great Saint's player?  PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!Older couple golfing | dentist gretna LA

Dentures are the same way. Dentures require some breaking in like a new pair of shoes. It is normal to be sore for the first few days as your gums acclimate to the new prosthesis. Many people return once or twice to Dr. Schafer in the first week for small adjustments to remove pressure spots where the gums are irritated. After this initial week, then practice becomes important. Dr. Schafer recommends daily practice sessions of talking and of eating to learn how to wear the dentures.  

Talking with Dentures

The best way to learn how to talk with dentures is to pick up your favorite book or newspaper and simply read aloud to yourself. It is normal to have a slight lisp when you are first adjusting to your dentures but it will go away will practice. Also, Dr. Schafer recommends that you sing to yourself as much as you can. Singing works well because it can involve complex movements and can be pretty fun, as well. While many patients will quickly master speaking with their dentures, occasionally some wearers take more time.

Eating with Dentures

The biggest mistake people make when they wear their dentures for their first meal is to go eat a po boy or a steak. These foods are literally too tough to learn how to chew properly. Starting with these foods is like trying to run a marathon on your first day of exercise in a long time. The best foods to practice eating are foods that can be easily cut with a plastic spoon. Dr. Schafer recommends foods like eggs, red beans and rice, fish, spaghetti, and bananas. Learning how to eat right with dentures is a slow process and may take a few weeks or months to master well. Keep practicing each day and you will learn how to eat that great New Orleans food.

Dentures in Gretna, LA

For more help and answers about dentures, call our dental office in Gretna, LA. 

Older couple snuggling on the couch | Dentist Gretna LADentures are probably one of the least appreciated medical prosthetic devices. If a person has a leg replaced, most reasonable people understand that learning to walk again will take a lot of practice. Until only recently have hand prosthetics been able to do much more than simply grab something and most did nothing more than look like a hand.  Unfortunately, though, many first-time denture wearers do not realize how different a denture is from natural teeth.  

Many patients go out with their new set of dentures and try to eat a steak. Due to inexperience, they are quickly frustrated by the limited chewing ability. Other new denture users are afraid to be in public as they notice that their dentures shift around slightly when they talk. These patients haven't learned how to control their denture and not "play" with it in their mouth.

The easiest way to control and adapt to the denture is through implant placement which can help make the denture more like natural teeth. For people without implants though, learning to use a denture is like learning to walk for the first time. The three aspects of walking are the bones that support you, the muscles that produce forces, and the brain which coordinates everything. For dentures, the bones form the ridge which supports the denture and allows it to sit in one spot where it fits the best. The muscles of the mouth (the tongue, cheeks, lips, and chewing muscles) produce forces and pressure to keep the denture on the bone. Finally, the brain tells the muscles which ways to react to the denture so that the denture stays in the right place depending on whether the wearer is eating, talking, sneezing, or doing nothing.

Older couple hugging | Dentist Gretna LA If you are currently wearing a healing or an immediate denture, it is recommended to replace the denture within six months to one year. After this time, generally, the mouth has healed and stays stable. Continuing to wear a healing denture beyond the healing period can be difficult as it will no longer fit your mouth properly. Occasionally it can be realigned so that it adapts better to your mouth, but these are done on a case by case basis. 

The best way to fix a lower denture is by placing artificial titanium teeth called implants in the bone and attaching them to the denture with a medical-grade o-ring. These implantsClose up of older woman smiling | Dentist Gretna LA can help give some retention or suction to the denture. Many times only two small implants placed on the lower jaw can make the lower denture feel as natural as the upper denture. These implants make an unbearable lower denture feel stable. Dr. Schafer recommends that every single patient that wears a lower denture seriously consider having implants placed to improve the function and comfort of the denture.

Having an embarrassing denture mishap while laughing and eating with friends can be embarrassing. Implant-secured dentures can eliminate those denture mishaps so that you maintain a good diet and an active social life - two of the greatest joys in life!

Having implants also help to retain the bone structure that naturally deteriorates with tooth loss. Because dental implants are rooted in your bone, they stimulate regeneration, slowing down the process of bone loss. A few strategically placed dental implants can improve denture fit as well as retaining the precious bone that holds your denture in place and provides your face with bone structure. That way you can look and feel your best! 

Older couple snuggling on couch | Dentures Gretna LA Patients often ask us how long it's going to take to make a denture. The number of appointments depends on what type of denture is being made.  Dentures can take anywhere between 2 and 5 visits 30-minute appointments to make. Generally, we can do each appointment about 1 week apart.

The appointments involve taking a very good mold of the mouth, ensuring that the bite is comfortable, making sure that the smile looks great, and delivering the denture with minor adjustments. However, not all of these appointments are needed every time. For example, if a healing denture is being made and the teeth aren't too worn, generally only 2 appointments are needed as the current teeth tell Dr. Schafer where the bite should be but also prevent us from trying in the teeth in wax. On the other hand, if we are replacing an old worn denture, more appointments are needed to find a comfortable bite that allows for better-looking teeth.  

If you need a new set of dentures quickly for a big event such as a wedding or party, Dr. Schafer recommends at least one month but preferably two months to get the dentures done. However, if you need a set of dentures quicker than that, there are other options that can get you a new set of teeth quicker within a week. If you are concerned about how long it will take, please call our Gretna dental office today to make an appointment to get started as soon as possible so Dr. Schafer and his team can discuss all of your options with you. 

Acrylic Partial Dentures

Older couple smiling | Dentist in Gretna LA Generally, a new set of dentures does not require any denture adhesive. However, many patients who have worn dentures for a long period of time feel more secure wearing denture adhesive. The denture adhesive in these cases fills in the gaps between the denture and the gums. These gaps form over time as the gums change shape and shrink which is why it is recommended to have a new liner placed in the dentures every 5 to 8 years and a new denture made every 8 to 10 years. While the adhesive works well for a short-term measure, the problem with long-term use is that it creates pressure spots on the denture causing faster shrinking of the gums.

Dental Implants over Adhesive

When patients feel that they need adhesive as soon as a new set is made, it is a better idea to start considering implants. While implants are more expensive than adhesive, they allow for the denture to feel more natural and chew more comfortably. 

Woman getting dentures | Gretna LA DenturesShort answer, yes it will at one point or another. While Dr. Schafer makes a lot of fantastic dentures, no matter how good of a job he does, a denture can still be removed by the hands, which means that it can fall out of the mouth. For first-time denture wearers, the dentures will slip out simply because the mouth has not learned how to work around the denture and the denture feels foreign. It is especially true if it is an immediate or healing denture. Dr. Schafer works with each of his patients to help them feel comfortable while learning to use their denture because it is important that everyone feels comfortable with their smile.

 

Cast Metal Partials

Older couple smiling | Dentist in Gretna LA Generally, a new set of dentures does not require any denture adhesive. However, many patients who have worn dentures for a long period of time feel more secure wearing denture adhesive. The denture adhesive in these cases fills in the gaps between the denture and the gums. These gaps form over time as the gums change shape and shrink which is why it is recommended to have a new liner placed in the dentures every 5 to 8 years and a new denture made every 8 to 10 years. While the adhesive works well for a short-term measure, the problem with long-term use is that it creates pressure spots on the denture causing faster shrinking of the gums.

Dental Implants over Adhesive

When patients feel that they need adhesive as soon as a new set is made, it is a better idea to start considering implants. While implants are more expensive than adhesive, they allow for the denture to feel more natural and chew more comfortably. 

One Day Dentures

Older couple smiling | Dentist in Gretna LA Generally, a new set of dentures does not require any denture adhesive. However, many patients who have worn dentures for a long period of time feel more secure wearing denture adhesive. The denture adhesive in these cases fills in the gaps between the denture and the gums. These gaps form over time as the gums change shape and shrink which is why it is recommended to have a new liner placed in the dentures every 5 to 8 years and a new denture made every 8 to 10 years. While the adhesive works well for a short-term measure, the problem with long-term use is that it creates pressure spots on the denture causing faster shrinking of the gums.

Dental Implants over Adhesive

When patients feel that they need adhesive as soon as a new set is made, it is a better idea to start considering implants. While implants are more expensive than adhesive, they allow for the denture to feel more natural and chew more comfortably. 

Woman getting dentures | Gretna LA DenturesShort answer, yes it will at one point or another. While Dr. Schafer makes a lot of fantastic dentures, no matter how good of a job he does, a denture can still be removed by the hands, which means that it can fall out of the mouth. For first-time denture wearers, the dentures will slip out simply because the mouth has not learned how to work around the denture and the denture feels foreign. It is especially true if it is an immediate or healing denture. Dr. Schafer works with each of his patients to help them feel comfortable while learning to use their denture because it is important that everyone feels comfortable with their smile.

 

Dental Implants

Dental implants in gretna LA Many people are concerned about whether or not to get an implant because they fear the pain. This fear is completely understandable; however, most patients do pretty well with it. Many patients have told us that over the counter pain medication such as Advil or Tylenol has taken care of the pain. Of course for our implant patients, we do prescribe prescription painkillers just in case our patients need it. After the implants have healed and have attached to the bone, they feel natural and most patients do not even realize that they are even there.  

Lower denture | Gretna LA Dentist As mentioned on other pages, lower dentures are generally more difficult to use than upper dentures as there is little to no suction. However, with implants, we can make the lower denture have the same or better suction than the upper. The minimum number of implants for the lower is two, but three or four can make an even better improvement. The best analogy is to think of a stool.  A two-legged stool requires you to balance on it to stay upright; however, a three or four-legged stool does even better to distribute the force.  

The Benefits of Implants for Lower Dentures

The most rewarding part of placing these implants is the look on patient's faces who have worn a lower denture for a long time when the implants are connected to the denture. The eyes light up as they realize that the denture doesn't require the same balancing act with the lips, tongue, and cheeks.  Many of these patients immediately go out and enjoy food that they have not had in a long time.

If a tooth has a severe infection or has not been present in an area for a long time, the bone can disappear in an area.  If this is an area where an implant is needed to be placed and there is not sufficient bone, Dr. Schafer will often place a bone graft.  The bone graft helps widen the bone in these areas so that the implant heals better.

Guided dental implant surgery is a tool Dr. Schafer uses to help him place dental implants quickly and effectively.  With guided surgery, a lot of the guess work is removed from the dental implant process.  By scanning in models taken of the patient's mouth and merging them using specific implant software, Dr. Schafer can design a surgical guide so that he knows exactly where to place the implant.  This ensures that the patient gets the best placed implant each time predictably.

Dental implants are artificial titanium roots that are placed in the jaw bone beneath the gums.  Standard dental x-rays are useful for seeing bone levels as well as other issues like cavities and gum disease but they are useful for seeing how much bone is present everywhere as they are two dimensional.  A 3D x-ray is needed for the dentist to see the different structure of bone in the area as well as the best way to place the implant so that it heals well and can easily have a tooth placed on top of it.

Tooth Extractions

Cup of water | Gretna LA Dentist In one word, yes. Your mother and grandmother were right when they told you to gargle with salt water when your mouth hurts.  

Using warm salt water does help the mouth recover after surgery, and Dr. Schafer does recommend it. A study in 2014 showed that patients who had their wisdom teeth removed and who rinsed at least two times per day after surgery were less likely to have complications and post operative pain. The use of salt water has been documented by ancient Egyptians as well as ancient Greeks. It is great because it is cheap and safe.

Now generally it's best to gargle with salt water the day following the surgery so that the clot that has formed around the surgical site can set and heal. Make the water super salty and not boiling hot but warm enough to be slightly uncomfortable. 

Man holding jaw from toothache pain | Dentist Gretna LAIf you have a toothache, you should call us at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry or another friendly local dentist to get an appointment as soon as possible.  If you have a fever or swelling and you cannot make it to the dentist quickly, then you should either go to a local Urgent Care or to the Emergency Room for an evaluation.  Thankfully though most toothaches do not cause a fever or swelling. Unfortunately, though, a toothache rarely happens on your schedule, but rather it happens at the most inconvenient time possible. Ignoring the pain is not a good thing because it will likely get worse and make any dental treatment more difficult and more expensive. If the pain goes away though, that does not mean that the problem is gone but more likely the tooth's nerve has died and that you can no longer feel the pain from the infection.

Steps to Take to Temporarily Relieve Toothache Pain

To help relieve the pain temporarily, using common over the counter pain medication works. For minor toothaches, generally whatever you take for aches and pains works best.  For bigger toothaches, alternating Advil or ibuprofen and Tylenol or acetaminophen every 3 hours works well to control the pain if your physician allows you to take ibuprofen. Do not place aspirin near the site of the pain as it will cause a burn to the gums as it is acidic. Also, gels and pastes like Oral-gel do not work very well as they cannot penetrate deep enough.

Dental Cleanings

dental tools | Dentist Gretna LAYes, a dental cleaning can whiten your teeth. In the same way that washing and waxing your car that is covered in dust makes your car shine, removing plaque and tartar can show off the natural beauty in your teeth. Tartar is a soft deposit on your teeth from food debris, and plaque is a mineralized deposit left on teeth from a combination of tartar, saliva, and bacteria in the mouth.  

How Does a Dental Cleaning Whiten Teeth?

Unfortunately, this plaque and tartar can easily stain depending on what you put in your mouth which is why drinks such as coffee and wine, foods such as berries, and tobaccos use via cigarettes and dip easily stain teeth. Tartar can be removed by a toothbrush, but as soon as it hardens and becomes plaque, only professional dental instruments can remove it. Generally, the dentist or the hygienist will remove the larger pieces of plaque with instruments that are sharp enough to break through the plaque but not damage the teeth. Also, a water spray may be used which uses high-frequency sound waves to vibrate off plaque without hurting the teeth. After the majority plaque has been removed, then the dentist or hygienist will come back with a polish to remove the remaining plaque. This final step gives you that new teeth look.

For more information on dental cleanings or teeth whitening in Gretna, LA, please give us a call at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry today at (504) 392-5104. 

Dental Fillings

Couple smiling | Dentist Gretna LA The most common reason to replace a silver filling is that the tooth develops another cavity or if the tooth has chipped or cracked. Usually, a cavity will show up on a visual exam or on an x-ray and can be fixed quickly before the damage spreads. In cases of chips and cracks, these may show up before as small crack lines in a tooth and whether the tooth needs to be repaired is determined on a case by case basis.

Why Replace a Silver Filling?

Another common reason to replace silver fillings is due to the look of the silver filling. While this is a fine reason, Dr. Schafer encourages each of his patients to decide if the silver filling is easy to see or if only the dentist, you, and your significant other can see it. Often silver fillings are placed on the back teeth or molars where it is difficult to see in a conversation. If the silver filling does show in your smile, it is a great reason to have it replaced with a white filling. However, replacing silver fillings with white fillings can cause prolonged sensitivity or the possible need for a further treatment if the tooth's nerve is damaged. Whenever a tooth has surgical treatment done to it like a filling, the tooth is damaged and may take some time to heal up properly.

The third common reason is fear of the toxicity of silver fillings. The media such as Dr. Oz have made much money fear mongering and convincing many people to have all their sturdy silver fillings replaced out of fear of any number of illness. Dr. Schafer does not believe that there is any substantiated link between amalgam fillings and health problems.  While Dr. Schafer will remove and replace silver fillings for cosmetic purposes, he highly discourages replacing them due to fear. Replacing white fillings in a person's mouth not only costs money the first time it is done but as most white fillings do not last as long as silver fillings, they are more expensive to maintain as they need to be replaced more often.

If you are concerned about your silver fillings, please call us today and Dr. Schafer and his team will be happy to discuss your options.

Kid's Dentistry

I like kids to see an orthodontist when their two front top teeth are in and their Two young kids smiling | Dentist Gretna LAsix-year-old molars are present. Many issues are easiest to evaluate at this point and if any treatment needs to be done, this is generally the earliest it will ever be started. At this point, if braces are needed, an orthodontist can evaluate the best time to start. While many orthodontists will not start until a child has lost all of her baby teeth, I would prefer a child to see an orthodontist two or three years too early than to see an orthodontist two or three years too late. 

Girl smiling in swimming pool | Dentist Gretna LA Most kids start losing baby teeth when they are 5 or 6 years old. The first tooth to fall out is generally the lower front tooth followed by the upper front tooth. The adult teeth then start coming in. Usually, the back adult teeth (6-year-old molars) come in around the same time as the lower front teeth. I do warn parents though that these are not hard rules and every child develops differently. As a rule of thumb, most girls lose teeth before boys do. I have had 4-year-old girls lose their front teeth while I've had 9-year-old boys not lose a tooth yet. In both extremes, there is no need to worry as long as all the adult teeth are present. If the adult teeth are not present, then I recommend that an orthodontist evaluate the child to look at the need for braces.

The first thing to do is to calm down your child so that you can take a look and see what has happened. Teeth that get hurt badly can be sensitiveYoung girl being held by mother | Dentist Gretna LA to touch or be broken, and the gums can bleed a little. If the tooth is broken, try to find the broken piece as it can possibly be reattached. Also, the lips and inside of the cheeks can be cut by the sharp edges of the teeth. To try to "self-diagnose" the problem, a good reference that Dr. Schafer uses is The Dental Trauma Guide. This website is extremely detailed, and although it's mainly meant for dentists, most lay people can understand it as it is well laid out and has well-labeled pictures.

Make an Emergency Dental Appointment

 If your dentist is open, you should call to make an appointment as soon as possible. If you believe that your child needs immediate attention and it is after hours, you should take your child to New Orleans Children's Hospital as generally, a pediatric dentist is on call or another local children's hospital that has a dental clinic associated with it. Thankfully, as kids generally heal well and the mouth probably heals faster than any other area in the body, most trauma can be handled with little long-term consequences. 

Child sitting in dental chair near dentist | Dentist Gretna LA At NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry, Dr. Schafer always allows parents to come back with their children during any procedure, if they wish. However, he doesn't always recommend it. While many kids do fine with a parent or grandparent in the room, some kids know how to push parents buttons in hopes that their parent will "save" them and stop the procedure. 

Your Child's Dental Appointment

We follow a system when working with children. We speak to them in a language they understand, we avoid scary terminology, and we work at their own pace, never pushing them beyond their limits. In some cases, children are more cooperative when their parents are not in the room. If you do decide to stay, being a "silent observer" can be the most effective way to help your child. Of course, we will bring you into the room to discuss any conditions, concerns, or suggestions we may have. A partnership with parents is the best way we can assure your child's oral health and wellness.

Dr. Schafer will discuss with you ahead of time to determine what is best for your child. Sometimes it's best for them to come back alone while others it's best if grandma or grandpa brings them to their appointments! 

Young boy in green shirt | Dentist Gretna LAChildren grind their teeth often especially their baby teeth. It is a natural part of growing up. In many cases, Dr. Schafer has no concerns with it and the child will grow out of it. While many parents fear that their child may be developing TMJ problems, kids grind their teeth for a different reason than adults do. If Dr. Schafer treated every single child that ground his teeth, he'd be a very busy dentist.

Grinding and Snoring in Children

Dr. Schafer is concerned about children that grind their teeth and snore at night, though. Snoring is not healthy in adults and it isn't healthy in children. When kids snore every night, they are not breathing well. When they aren't breathing well, they aren't sleeping well. As all parents know, a child that hasn't slept well is not likely to have a good day. If your child snores, Dr. Schafer recommends that you take a video of him snoring at night with a cell phone camera and show the video to your child's pediatrician or an Ear Nose Throat specialist on your insurance to evaluate the tonsils.

Getting a good night's sleep is essential to good health in both adults and children. If you ever have any questions, please let us know. We are happy to help you find a solution.

young boy | Gretna LA DentistSilver crowns or stainless steel crowns are pre-made shells that fit over baby teeth. They are a common procedure in pediatric dentistry as these crowns work well and are tough. Not only do they usually last longer than fillings, but they also can help protect the teeth from future cavities as the tooth isn't exposed to more sugar or acid after the crown is placed.

Dr. Schafer prefers doing these silver crowns in cases where a young child has many cavities or has a large cavity where a filling is unlikely to last until the tooth can be wiggled out. Dr. Schafer also does these when a child gets another cavity on a tooth that has already had a filling.

Many parents worry that these silver crowns will affect their child's development or that they will be made fun of in school. In Dr. Schafer's experience, it's the parents who hate the way they look and the kids don't really care. Some kids even think that they are really cool. The best news is that with silver crowns they don't last forever. When the child grows up, the silver crowns fall out and healthy adult teeth emerge. The silver crowns help prevent the decay so that the adult teeth have a chance to be in a cavity-free environment when they emerge. 

Esthetic Bonding

small girl in dental chair | Dentist Gretna LAKids being kids chip their teeth pretty frequently. If baby teeth are chipped, Dr. Schafer doesn't recommend any treatment unless the teeth are causing pain. Dr. Schafer doesn't fix chipped baby teeth that don't hurt because the repair doesn't last very long. If it is an adult tooth, Dr. Schafer recommends esthetic bonding on the tooth to help replace the missing part of the tooth. Because the jaw is growing and the child's bite is changing though, these fillings generally only last one to three years. It is not unusual for a six-year-old who has chipped his front tooth to need the bonding redone 3 or 4 times before he has finished growing in his early 20's. 

Repairing Chipped Teeth Through the Years

As your child grows, the opposing teeth generally start biting into the restoration, and natural teeth are able to fracture these bondings. Occasionally braces are needed to create an even bite to help protect the restoration so that it lasts for the longest amount of time possible. Despite these difficulties, Dr. Schafer still recommends these minimally invasive restorations for many patients and he has a couple of these himself. Even if the piece breaks off again, generally the natural tooth beneath the filling is not affected and a new piece can be put on again.

Teeth Whitening

dental tools | Dentist Gretna LAYes, a dental cleaning can whiten your teeth. In the same way that washing and waxing your car that is covered in dust makes your car shine, removing plaque and tartar can show off the natural beauty in your teeth. Tartar is a soft deposit on your teeth from food debris, and plaque is a mineralized deposit left on teeth from a combination of tartar, saliva, and bacteria in the mouth.  

How Does a Dental Cleaning Whiten Teeth?

Unfortunately, this plaque and tartar can easily stain depending on what you put in your mouth which is why drinks such as coffee and wine, foods such as berries, and tobaccos use via cigarettes and dip easily stain teeth. Tartar can be removed by a toothbrush, but as soon as it hardens and becomes plaque, only professional dental instruments can remove it. Generally, the dentist or the hygienist will remove the larger pieces of plaque with instruments that are sharp enough to break through the plaque but not damage the teeth. Also, a water spray may be used which uses high-frequency sound waves to vibrate off plaque without hurting the teeth. After the majority plaque has been removed, then the dentist or hygienist will come back with a polish to remove the remaining plaque. This final step gives you that new teeth look.

For more information on dental cleanings or teeth whitening in Gretna, LA, please give us a call at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry today at (504) 392-5104. 

Mom and two children sitting on grass | Dentist Gretna LAMany kids and parents today want white teeth, and there is nothing wrong with that. Kids deserve to have a great, beautiful, and healthy smile as well. Generally, Dr. Schafer hears this request from parents either when their first adult teeth come in or in high school-aged kids.  

When adult teeth come in on a 5, 6, or 7 years old, they will look more yellow than baby teeth. Healthy baby teeth are typically bright white whereas healthy adult teeth are ever so slightly yellow. When you compare baby teeth to adult teeth, the adult teeth will always look yellow, and that is normal. Not much can be done about it at this age, so Dr. Schafer rarely recommends whitening except in very badly stained teeth.

Teeth Whitening for Teenagers

Dr. Schafer usually has no problems with offering whitening to teenage patients, on the other hand. Often teens want whitening for the same reason that adults do: to have prettier looking teeth. Whether they are getting ready for prom or school pictures, Dr. Schafer will gladly examine your teen and see which treatment makes the most sense for them. Please keep in mind that whitening takes a few weeks at least to have noticeable results and to schedule your initial appointment about one month before the teeth should be fully or mostly whitened.

For more information on teeth whitening or kids dentistry in Gretna, LA, please give us a call at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry at (504) 392-5104 today!

Man smiling in dental chair | Dentist Gretna LAWhitening strips are strips of plastic that adhere to the front of teeth and apply a whitening gel to the teeth. They are sold at most pharmacies and range in price between 15-50 dollars. The whitening gel on the strips is similar to the type that is sold in most dental offices.

The Problems with Teeth Whitening Strips

Dr. Schafer doesn't recommend whitening strips because the strips do not mesh well with the teeth which causes two problems: because the whitening gels do not fit as well as a customized whitening tray, saliva touches the whitening gel causing it to break down quickly. The whitening gel is similar to hydrogen peroxide and if you place hydrogen peroxide in your mouth, you'll notice that it starts fizzing and bubbling. This fizzing and bubbling is the peroxide breaking down. In a similar way, when saliva is in contact with the whitening gel, it starts to lose it's potency and can quickly become useless. What generally happens is that the tips of the teeth whiten and the base of the teeth do not.  

The second problem is that the gels can be very concentrated and can easily burn the gums if the strips are misplaced. Peroxide burns do not show up immediately and between two or three minutes to show up, and by this time, the damage has already been done. While these burns will heal in a few days, they sting in the meantime. If you burn your gums, Dr. Schafer recommends warm salt water rinses as well as whatever over the counter pain medication works best for you.

For more information on teeth whitening in Gretna, LA, call us at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry today at (504) 392-5104! 

Tooth brush and tooth paste | Dentist Gretna LAAfter whitening is done, it is normal for the teeth to become slightly darker and reach a stable color about one week after. While many dentists prefer to do "touch-ups" or whitening when needed, Dr. Schafer prefers to do regular maintenance. Much like you need to wash your car on a regular basis if you want it to always be clean and shiny, you need to do regular whitening if you want your teeth to always be at their brightest. As long as your whitening trays still fit, you can continue to wear them and put whitening gel in them. You may need to whiten between once per week to once per month to keep your pearly whites white. Dr. Schafer will tailor a specific regime to your individual needs.

Take-Home Whitening Gel

We offer whitening gel for purchase in our office. Your trays can be retained and reused indefinitely, as long as they fit and are in good shape. Certain lifestyle choices such as coffee consumption, red wine, tobacco use, and even colorful fruits and vegetables can quickly stain your teeth. Certain medications, even mouth rinses, can also stain your teeth. Brushing your teeth and maintaining regular professional dental cleaning appointments will help protect your smile.

For more information on teeth whitening in Gretna, LA call us at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry today at (504) 392-5104.

Man smiling | Dentist Gretna LATeeth whitening can make your teeth sensitive, but there are effective ways to help prevent it. For each patient that is whitening their teeth, Dr. Schafer recommends a sensitivity toothpaste such as Sensodyne or Colgate Sensitive, and they both work equally well. One week before whitening, you should start brushing your teeth with one of these kinds of toothpaste and you should continue throughout and beyond the whitening process. During whitening, Dr. Schafer recommends placing a small amount of the toothpaste in your tray and wearing it for 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after each whitening session.

Preventing Sensitivity when Deep Whitening

For his deep whitening patients, Dr. Schafer includes a desensitizing gel, which helps immensely. If you experience sensitivity, let us know so that we can provide you with this gel, allowing you to whiten your teeth comfortably. Sometimes the occasional pain or zinger will happen in spite of your best efforts, and for this pain Dr. Schafer recommends whichever over the counter pain medication you usually take to relieves headaches or muscle pain.

If sensitivity continues, try taking a day off in between treatments or leaving your trays in for a shorter period of time.

Thankfully, many people who follow these steps do not experience much discomfort with the whitening process and are thrilled with the final results.

For more information on teeth whitening in Gretna, LA, give us a call at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry at (504) 392-5104 today!

TMJ or Jaw Pain

Man holding jaw from tooth pain | Dentist Gretna LATMJ pain and problems are some of the most difficult areas of dentistry as it can be hard to properly diagnose and can cause problems ranging from tooth sensitivity to ear pain to headaches. The good news though with most TMJ pain is that it does get better with time. The jaw does heal itself except in exceptional circumstances, and the symptoms of TMJ problems can be managed with over the counter pain meds, soft diet, and self-care such as massages and hot compresses.

TMJ Symptoms Getting Worse?

If you feel like your symptoms are worsening or that they are not going away, causing discomfort in your day-to-day life, or causing significant pain, popping, clicking, or jaw locking, we should address your condition. We offer occlusal splint (night guards) to help address the symptoms of TMJD. Having severe jaw problems can affect your quality of life, quality of sleep, and limit the foods you eat.

Treatment with a night guard is non-invasive and can protect your teeth from damage due to clenching and grinding, a common cause of jaw pain. 

If you are experiencing TMJ pain, please contact us at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry for an evaluation. We can offer you treatment options to give you greater comfort and peace of mind.

Night Guards

woman smiling | dentist in gretna la Night guards a generally a hard acrylic or softer plastic that is custom-formed to your mouth. You may wear a night guard if you clench and grind your teeth at night or if you have many crowns in your mouth that need to be protected.

Night guards serve two functions. First, they should help protect your teeth at night time when you can clench up to three times as hard as during when you are awake. Second, they should help relax your muscles during the night by engaging your muscle reflexes from your teeth. 

Protection

Tooth protection is relatively straight forward and makes sense. Night guards cover either the upper or lower teeth and prevent the opposite side from wearing into the side that the night guard is protected. While many night guards are hard, the acrylic is not as hard a tooth meaning that the night guard will wear down instead of your teeth. A well used night guard may only last a few years, and I've seen some only last six months. However, replacing a night guard on a regular basis is still much cheaper and less painful than having a broken tooth which is why most people opt to replace it on a regular basis.

Muscle Relaxation

Now this one isn't as obvious to most people, but hard night guards can relax your jaw muscles. To prove it, try this experiment:

  1. Clench down on your back teeth as hard as you can. Relax after 10 seconds.
  2. Clench down on your front teeth as hard as you can. Relax after 10 seconds

Now you might have noticed that you can't clench down on your front teeth nearly as hard as on your back teeth. This is a reflex that helps prevent you from hurting your front teeth. A hard night guard helps engage this reflex when you are grinding at night time which helps relax your muscles.  

 

Night guards are usually between 1 mm to 5 mm thick (1/20 to 1/5 of an inch). Generally, they are thicker in the front than in the back as the jaw acts like a hinge where the back Night Guard | Gretna LA Dentistteeth separate less than the front teeth upon opening. Usually when people ask us how thick they are, they want to know if they are comfortable. We find that custom made night guards can be very comfortable to wear when they are made and adjusted properly. Sometimes after being fitted you will need to return for another appointment as your jaw will adapt to them.

The picture shown to the right is a typical night guard. While it looks thick, half of the height is where the teeth fit in. For this patient, we made a lower night guard as it fit better with her teeth. After she started wearing it, she found her jaw more relaxed in the morning and her teeth didn't feel as sensitive as she stopped grinding as hard at night.

woman smiling on couch | gretna la dentist A hard night guard is proven to be the better option for most patients. The reason is that a soft night guard makes the mouth and muscles want to chew on it at night time as if it were a piece of gum. This chewing can leave the mouth sore the next morning. Hard night guards also generally last longer than soft night guards as hard ones can take more of a beating.

However, some patients do not find hard night guards comfortable and will not wear them. For these patients, soft night guards might make sense as the guard is still protecting the teeth. Generally, for these patients, we pay extra close attention for the first few weeks to make sure that the jaw and the jaw muscles are adapting well to the mouth guard.

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