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Dr. Mark Costes
Dr. Sean Reed



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Ask Dr. Mark

Ask Dr. Mark Each month Dr. Mark Costes answers a question posed by a reader. It is published here and in the Lonesome Valley Newspaper. If you have a question for Dr. Costes, please email him at info@horizondds.com.

Basic Dental Care Exam

Dentists recommend regular dental care to preserve your oral health. They can also help you in finding the most suitable yet affordable treatment. Routine oral health care is a great way to achieve a healthy mouth and teeth for years to come. Regularly visiting your dentist for basic dental care exams and cleaning is a great start!

Reputable Prescott, AZ dentist, Dr. Mark Costes suggests scheduling a visit with your local dental hygienist to clean and polish your teeth every six to nine months. Also, you need to have routine examinations and X-rays. Based on the findings from these examinations, additional preventative dental care may be suggested to ensure good oral health longterm.

Dental Exam and Common Procedures

Complete Oral Examination – This will detect problems such as deteriorating fillings and conditions affecting your overall health such as oral cancer and gum disease. Your dentist will explore each tooth, gums, the tongue.

Panoramic X-ray – This refers to taking a shot of all of your teeth as well as your upper and lower jaws to gain a clear picture of your mouth’s condition. It shows the entire mouth in one image, identifying problems like fractures, bone abnormalities, infections, tumors, and impacted teeth. This imagery method is often used when planning treatments like dentures, braces and implants.

Dental Surgery – This includes everything from a simple tooth extraction to a complicated procedure like dental implant surgery. It is primarily done to relieve pain as well as to boost the appearance and function of your smile. It can be performed in a dentist’s office without having to be referred to another office.

Dental Care Basics

  • Brush at least twice a day – Do not rush when you brush. Proper brushing will require at least two minutes. Also, do not neglect the gum line, areas around fillings, crowns and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Clean in between teeth – Your toothbrush can’t reach all the areas to be cleaned. As such, it is very crucial for you to use floss or interdental cleaners to clean the areas that the toothbrush cannot reach. Brushing your tongue is also important since this will remove bacteria to ensure fresh breath.
  • Eat a balanced diet – Make it a habit to eat a balanced diet that contains foods from the five major food groups. You need to limit snacks containing high levels of sugar.
  • Visit your dentist regularly – Dental visits must be done every six months or more for early detection of any dental problem including tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. Routine fluoride application is also a must. This can be done during your routine dental examination and cleaning.

Basic dental care will involve your daily participation. Your smile will greatly depend on these dental care basics, so always keep them in mind and put them into practice. Call us today to set up your appointment!


Brushing Your Tongue – Is It Important?

Most people just brush their teeth day in and day out, not knowing that this won’t remove all the harmful bacteria in their mouth.

For you to gain the best oral health, you need to brush both your teeth and your tongue.

Bacterial Live and Proliferate on Your Tongue

Biofilm, a specific type of bacteria, makes up a huge amount of the bacteria in your mouth. Similar to other bacteria, biofilm will contribute a lot to creating different oral health problems for your teeth, gums and mouth. These bacteria live on your tongue in the ridges and spaces you can’t see. A few hours after brushing your teeth, these bacteria can transfer from your tongue to your teeth. Mouthwash alone won’t eliminate them, which is why brushing your tongue is very important.

Tongue Brushing Tools and Techniques

  • Toothbrush – Focus on brushing your tongue after you’ve brushed your teeth. You can use the bristles of your toothbrush or a specialized brush with a built-in tongue cleaner. Start brushing by reaching to the back of your tongue, and working forward toward your mouth’s opening. You must brush the entire tongue’s surface with gentle pressure. After that, rinse with water.
  • Tongue Scraper – This is a flat, soft and flexible plastic tool that is used mainly for brushing your tongue. When using a scraper, start from the back of your tongue going forward. Since it lacks bristles, it may be more difficult for you to reach certain areas. After each swipe of the tongue, you must rinse the scraper. Avoid using the scraper with too much force to prevent tongue sores and bleeding. And since the center of the tongue has the bulk of bacteria, concentrate on this area when scraping.
  • Cleaner – This is an excellent tool for brushing your tongue because this is a scraper with bristles. It combines the best of a scraper and a toothbrush. The bristles, though, are rubber.

How Often Should You Brush Your Tongue?

Cleaning your tongue, a Prescott, AZ dentist says, must be done at least once in the morning and once in the evening before going to sleep. Whenever you feel your mouth is dry or has a foul taste in midday, cleaning your tongue immediately will be the best solution.

Aside from that, consider using a mouthwash rinse after brushing your tongue to moisturize your mouth and to kill other bacteria.

Indeed, maintaining fresh breath and a healthy mouth is not just about brushing your teeth. Make it a habit to give your tongue sufficient attention to ensure fresh breath and good oral health. Call us today!


All About Dental Bone Graft Procedures

When it comes to restorative dentistry, dental implants generate the most interest. Unlike other procedures, implants achieve the feel and function of original teeth the best. It’s like you never lost your teeth at all.

However, to be a good candidate for dental implants, you need to have enough bone density to securely anchor the implants. If you don’t, additional work needs to be carried out.

Dental bone graft is performed for patients whose bone under the gums is not wide, tall or dense enough. This procedure is a rather complex one, so it greatly increases the overall cost of dental implant surgery.

To further understand this crucial treatment that is included in some dental implant procedures, listed below are things you need to know all about dental bone graft procedures.

  • This process will rebuild or replace bone in the jaw to support dental implants. Bone loss is usually caused by periodontal disease, trauma, an abscess, or aging and not having teeth for a long time already.
  • Bone grafts make use of bone (cadaver, cow, patient’s own bone) or bone-like material (synthetic bone).

  • An oral surgeon, prosthodontist or periodontist commonly performs extensive bone grafts several months before the dental implants.

  • A single bone graft using bone from a cow, cadaver or synthetic bone can cost between $250 and $1100. Meanwhile, for bone graft using the patient’s own bone, the procedure can cost between $2000 and $3000 – obviously more expensive as it includes two surgical sites, anesthesia and hospitalization.

  • The cost of bone grafts is dependent on the following factors:

  • size and shape of the surgical site, source material used, and where the bone is harvested from.

  • Additional costs can be expected, and they’re for X-rays, CT scans and consultation fee of other specialists.

  • Dental insurance normally doesn’t cover the cost of dental implants but may cover a portion of the cost of a dental bone graft due to bone loss’s impact on a person’s wellbeing.

  • The safest graft material is your own bone because it naturally integrates well and there’s no risk of infectious disease, tissue rejection and contamination. This is usually harvested from the chin, jaw, shin or hip.

  • Least ideal bone graft material is synthetic bone. While it’s second to your own bone when it comes to safety, this material is absorbed by the body and needs to be replaced over time.

  • Lastly, recovery from bone grafting usually takes about four to nine months so it’s a long waiting time before dental implant surgery can be performed. During the recovery/waiting period, you are expected to consistently practice proper oral care and to follow a healthy diet to ensure the success of the dental implant.

To know if a dental bone graft procedure is right for you, contact your trusted Prescott, AZ dentist. 


The Different Types of Dental Bridges and Their Benefits

Cases of missing teeth among young children are often deemed cute occurrences (which is probably why there’s a popular song about missing teeth). But when you’re old, missing teeth can be a health risk.

Apart from a sagging facial appearance that can make you look sad and older, missing teeth can also have other negative consequences. One is the high likelihood of “shifting” – teeth can move a bit toward the gap. This movement creates spaces between the teeth that will not only alter alignment and bite but can also make teeth prone to harmful bacteria buildup that can lead to gum disease. A more serious consequence is bone loss, which will put you at greater risk of losing more teeth as you get older.

One of the best solutions to missing teeth is a dental bridge. What it does is it literally bridges the gap created by one or more missing teeth. It is made of two or more crowns (depending on the missing tooth’s location). One crow will serve as the replacement for the missing tooth, and the other/s for the anchoring tooth or teeth (called abutment teeth).

When dental bridges are placed in, you will be able to:

  • Restore your smile.
  • Restore your ability to speak for clearly.
  • Chew food properly.
  • Maintain the healthy shape of your face (no more hollow areas).
  • Maintain your proper teeth alignment and bite.
  • Preserve your original teeth better.

There are different types of dental bridges that your dentist can put in for you depending on where your missing tooth or teeth are, and they are:

  • Cantilever bridges – These are the type of bridges used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing teeth. Cantilever bridges are not used that often anymore because they are not ideal as restorative solutions for missing tooth at the back of the mouth where there’s usually a lot of pressure on surrounding teeth.
  • Maryland bonded bridges – These are also called a resin-bonded bridge or a Maryland bridge. They are made of porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or plastic teeth and gums held together by a metal or porcelain framework. Metal or porcelain wings, usually placed on just one side of the bridge, are anchored or bonded to your existing teeth.
  • Traditional bridges – These consist of a crown for the tooth or implant on both sides of the missing tooth, with a pontic or a dummy tooth in between. Traditional bridges are the most frequently used type of bridge and they are made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics.

The application of dental bridges takes multiple visits to the dentist, which can take several weeks. But once the bridges are permanently placed in, you’re sure to feel a big difference in the way your mouth feels and functions. Ask your trusted Prescott, AZ dentist about the best treatment for you.


Tooth Decay Treatment

Contrary to the common belief that tooth decay is only caused by not brushing teeth regularly – this is the main reason, but it can actually be the result of frequent, hard brushing as well. When you brush your teeth too much and you brush rather vigorously, your tooth’s enamel gets scratched, creating small “abrasions” or cavities that if not taken care of may result in serious tooth decay.

Whatever type of tooth decay you may have, immediate treatment is important for tooth decay only gets worse over time, says a Prescott, AZ dentist. It’s worth noting too that decay spreads rapidly and when it reaches the more sensitive parts of your teeth, you can expect pain to intensify and occur more often. Other complications may arise as well, such as face swelling, pain that radiates to other parts of the head, and in severe cases, flare-ups of other health issues such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Tooth decay treatment is affordable especially if it will be performed for the prevention of further damage instead of for the purpose of removal. For small abrasions or erosion on your enamel, prevention of further damage has to be done right away. The dentist will perform the treatment using filling materials that contain fluoride, calcium and phosphates.

Now, for tooth decay that has already reached the dentin, repair is performed using a dental filling. There are different kinds of filling; there’s amalgam, which is composed of silver and other metals, or a tooth-colored resin material, which has a much nicer appearance though not as durable as amalgam.

For damaged teeth that have changed in shape and size, the dentist will fill them and then add a crown to help strengthen and restore shape and function. The application of a crown can be expected to increase the cost of treatment.

As for the worst case of tooth day, meaning there’s an abscess, these are your treatment options:

  • A root canal treatment, followed by a crown because teeth can become more brittle after this treatment and are likely to break easily.

  • An extraction – this when there are no other means to save the tooth.

These only go to show how important it is to have consistent, good oral care practices because tooth decay is a serious health issue. On top of this, treatment can cost you a significant amount of money. So brush, floss, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash and visit your dentist regularly to prevent the pain and cost of tooth decay.

Schedule an appointment with one of our dentists today!


What is a Flipper for Teeth and Do You Need It?

Losing a tooth or teeth makes eating and speaking a little bit difficult and uncomfortable.

Aside from these obvious effects of tooth loss, there are also the non-obvious effects, such as bone loss. When you lose a tooth and you take too long to take it to a dentist, the surrounding bone that used to support your tooth could also lose its form and density. If you have more than one tooth missing, your facial structure will eventually change as the distance between the chin and the nose decreases.

Typically, the first tooth that you lose is a back tooth. Back teeth develop early during childhood and are more prone to decay. When this happens, the best thing for you to do is to go and visit a dentist as soon as possible. However, before going there, you may want to learn a few things.

What is a flipper for teeth?

A flipper is a temporary replacement for a permanent tooth after it has been extracted. It is usually prepared before the extraction, and once it’s ready, can simply be inserted into the mouth for immediate use. Flippers are used instead of a permanent implant at first because implants need to be prepared for a period of time which sometimes takes months. According to research, it is unhealthy to go on without a tooth replacement for a long time as it could already alter the bone that surrounds the teeth as well as the jawbone.

Flippers are removable dentures made of resin and work almost just like a retainer. The contours of a flipper follow that of the roof of the mouth and the same is true if you need it for the bottom teeth. This dental appliance can be made of porcelain or plastic, which is the cheaper option. Once you get your flipper, your dentist may ask you to eat only soft food for the first week so you can gradually adjust to using it.

Keep in mind that flippers are just supposed to be temporary.

You need to have a dental implant eventually as flippers do not have a very long shelf life – the material is not as durable as dentures, and the fit may become loose over a relatively short period of wearing them.

On the other hand, for kids who lost a tooth, only a flipper is advisable as a tooth replacement. Children need to wait until the jawbone has stopped growing at around 17 or 18 years old. Dental implants can then be performed.

If you have lost a tooth or you think you are about to lose one, you need to have it checked by your dentist immediately. Visit your trusted Prescott, AZ dentist to know the right solution for your specific needs.


The Link Between Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

Last February 19 and 20, 15 international specialists with years of knowledge and experience among them assembled in Madrid for the Perio-Diabetes Workshop led by the European Federation of Periodontology and the International Diabetes Federation to tackle one of the biggest health issues in the society today:

The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease.

While diabetes is characterized as a complex disease that involves deterioration or complete inability of an individual to produce or respond to the hormone insulin, periodontal disease (often called gum disease) is defined as the inflammation and irritation of the gum line.

More often than not, both illnesses result in more severe problems such as bone corrosion and teeth loss.

A group of experts have worked together to finally solve this massive dental dilemma.

During the workshop, it was discussed that patients who have periodontitis are also the ones who are most likely susceptible to pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Those who have diabetes, on the other hand, are very much prone to acquiring periodontal disease. People who suffer from periodontitis and other gum diseases find it difficult for their bodies to keep their blood pressure normal.

Now that it has been revealed that there is actually a strong resemblance between periodontal disease and diabetes, it is important that you also know how to treat or manage both conditions.

For those with periodontal disease, it has been shown that self-performed oral hygiene at home is an effective practice. By simply establishing a habit of regular brushing and flossing, you can save yourself from one of the most severe dental diseases.

Based on the workshop’s conclusion, diabetes can be treated while one practices self-care techniques for periodontal disease. The length and type of treatment varies from one patient to another, depending on the level of their infection. As a rule of thumb, it is still always the best option to consult a Prescott, AZ dentist to assist you throughout the procedure.

As for diabetes, there are injections prescribed by doctors that can help pump one’s bloodstream with enough insulin to treat diabetes. As expected, addressing diabetes also creates an impact on periodontal disease as both of them heal at the same time. It is important to know that the condition should be treated with utmost urgency, as more serious complications to one’s health may arise if left untreated for a long time.

To learn about other professional treatments, you can search for credible online sources or simply contact your dentist for advice.


How Smoking Affects Your Mouth (and Ways to Treat This)

If you think smoking is bad enough because it destroys your lungs, then you haven’t gotten to the most obvious effects yet.

Tobacco and cigarettes contain tar and nicotine that build up inside your mouth. These gather in between teeth, allowing more bacteria to take refuge in these spaces and attack the surrounding teeth. Since there are about 600 bacterial species that make up the oral microbiome, just imagine how much the act of smoking further aggravates the problem by boosting the growth of the bacteria.

One of the most important things to understand about how smoking affects your mouth is that it also has other effects on your teeth. When plaque or tartar accumulate and harden around your teeth, for example, they create stains, usually yellowish and black in color, that can give you a less attractive smile.

The stains can be very difficult to remove and often cause damage to the surface of your teeth as well. Your teeth are coated with a protective layer called enamel; once the enamel is damaged, bacteria can freely contaminate and infect the core of your teeth, which eventually leads to rotting and extraction.

Another serious effect of smoking is gum disease. Because the nicotine coats the teeth and gums in plaque, oxygen is blocked from properly reaching the bloodstream. This prevents gums from healing as fast as it can, causing in the further development of different kinds of oral diseases. Although smoking can severely damage one’s dental condition, there are ways that can help you treat the damage it has done on your gums and teeth.

Brushing and flossing the right way

Brushing your teeth and flossing should be done the right way in order to achieve optimal results. Brushing three times daily and flossing after every meal is the typical advice, but keep in mind that you also have to do these correctly — you have to use the right strokes and perform the right procedures to remove every bit of tartar stuck on the surface of your teeth. By making a real effort to make a habit out of brushing and flossing regularly, you prevent the cavities from spreading further to your other teeth.

Installing crowns or veneers

When the degree of staining on your teeth is too serious too remove, you can simply cover it up with dental crowns or veneers. These dental solutions can be easily installed by your dentist and would not take too much time to accomplish. They serve as protective coverings and come in a porcelain white color to improve not just function of the teeth, but also their appearance.

Do not allow your teeth to deteriorate and completely lose their beauty. Visit a Prescott, AZ dentist today; these credible dental experts have the knowledge, experience, and equipment to help bring back the perfect smile you lost from smoking.


Celebrate World Oral Health Day by Taking Better Care of Your Teeth and Gums

Annually, people from all over the world celebrate World Oral Health Day on March 20.

But beyond this important day, it is crucial for people to pay attention to their oral health and take better care of their teeth and gums. Your oral health impacts your self-confidence, personal relationships, and even your overall health.

In fact, poor oral health has been associated with the increased vulnerability to a host of diseases ranging from diabetes to heart disease to some forms of cancers.

How can you take better care of your oral health? Here are some helpful tips from a Prescott, AZ dentist.

Change what you can change

When it comes to some dental health factors, there are some risks that you can do nothing about. These factors include your age, sex, and the genes you have inherited from your parents.

But there are also other risks factors that you can control. These include your lifestyle and habits and your behaviors. Some of the risk factors that you can change include tobacco use, your diet, alcohol consumption, and oral hygiene.

Making key changes in these areas can help boost your oral health while minimizing risk factors.

When you are looking to modify your diet, one of the first things that you need to check is your sugar consumption. That includes sweets and soft drinks which increase your vulnerability to oral diseases. As much as possible, limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks.

If you are a smoker, you need to be aware that your habit is wreaking havoc on your oral health. In fact, many studies have associated tobacco use with a long list of conditions ranging from gum disease to oral cancer.

While you do not have to totally avoid drinking alcohol, keep in mind that excessive consumption can leave you vulnerable to dental caries and oral cancer.

The easiest thing to modify is your oral hygiene. By simply brushing and flossing your teeth properly and regularly, you can protect your teeth and gums from a diverse array of conditions, including tooth decay and gum disease.

Beyond World Oral Health Day

Celebrating World Oral Health Day is a good way to underscore the importance of the health of your teeth and gums.

However, taking care of your oral health is something that you need to constantly remember every day, and not for just one day in a year. Take charge of your oral health by contacting us today!


Dental Health Facts and Fiction

People can become so concerned with their teeth that they tend to believe any information they receive about ways to care for them, which may not always be true or advisable. As a result, they observe dental routines that could be causing more damage to their teeth instead of helping them maintain strong and healthy set of chompers.

Keeping this in mind, it is important to learn about and adopt clinically proven and effective dental habits that you should practice to keep your teeth healthy — and to determine whether a piece of information about dental health is a fact or fiction.

Some examples of dental health facts and fiction include the following:

STATEMENT: Your teeth should be looked at and cleaned by a dentist once a year

VERDICT: Fiction

The frequency of your visits to the dental clinic relies entirely on your dentist and not any self-established schedule. Each person’s dental condition is different from the next one’s, so the recommendations for dental check-ups would depend on the patient’s specific dental needs.

Some individuals with relatively healthy teeth may only need to see their dentist every few months, for example, while others with more delicate or serious dental issues may be advised to head to the dental clinic to undergo treatments or procedures once a month.

Since people consume different kinds of food and drinks, follow different oral hygiene practices, and have varying health conditions that could affect the state of their teeth, mouth and gums, required dental procedures also vary from patient to patient.

STATEMENT: Popcorn is a snack that is good for your teeth

VERDICT: Fiction

Popcorn doesn’t always look the way it does when you buy it at the cinema. Its uncooked form is a hard, tough corn kernel. However, cooking doesn’t always turn every single kernel into soft, tasty and fluffy popcorn, and when your teeth accidentally bite hard on those un-popped kernels, precious white enamel on your teeth might end up chipped or cracked.

And because popcorn is often flavored with butter and powdered artificial cheese and butter, popcorn is not exactly the best choice of food to keep your teeth healthy.

STATEMENT: Sugar is the cause of cavities

VERDICT: Fact

It is true that sugary food or drinks cause cavities in teeth. Keep in mind, though, that they are also not the only reasons why people suffer from tartar build-up. There are other harmful chemicals and foreign contaminants that can cause plaque, such as nicotine and alcohol. Meat is also a culprit when it comes to cavity build-up; however, it does not directly affect the surface of your teeth. Instead, meat leftovers get stuck between teeth, allowing bacteria to gather and attack the enamel of your teeth.

In order to get helpful tips for improving the health of your teeth, you can consult dental experts such as a Prescott, AZ dentist in a fully equipped dental clinic near you.