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Tooth Replacement Options

Dental implant vs. Dental BridgeOne of our most common questions about replacing a tooth is, “What are my options?” “Are there any options?” “Do I have to get a bridge?”. At Westgate Family Dental in South Austin, 78745, Dr. Yarbrough and his team go above and beyond to give you as many options as possible for any or all of your tooth problems. A common issue we frequently find is the replacement of a missing tooth. Sometimes, patients lose teeth for various reasons, stemming from periodontal involvement, accident, decay etc… Regardless of the reason, it is always best to have the missing tooth replaced simply because it can cause further damage to the surrounding teeth. The adjacent teeth can lean towards the open space as well as the tooth above can begin to “hyper-erupt” to compensate for the open space. If the empty space is left too long, these damaging movements can make restoring that missing tooth very difficult.

25 years ago, options were limited for fixing this issue, the only option for many years was a Dental Bridge. A Dental Bridge is a fixed 3-4 unit bridge that is supported by 2-3 crowns on the adjacent teeth and a “fake” tooth in the middle, supplying the tooth replacement. Dentistry has vastly advanced since this one and only option as we now have Dental Implants as an alternative to the Dental Bridge. Dental Implants are a great option because they only replace the tooth that is missing and doesn’t affect any of the surrounding teeth, actually it helps the surrounding because it acts a solo tooth and because of this it gives the other teeth more strength by keeping everything in order. Dental Bridges can sometimes create more wear and tear on the existing teeth it is resting upon. Not only that, in most cases by doing a dental bridge we have to cut sometimes on virgin teeth, teeth that have absolutely nothing wrong with them in order to place the bridge. When electing an implant, there is no cutting on existing teeth but simply replacing the missing tooth by placing an implant in it’s place. The process of restoring a missing tooth with an implant is a lengthy one, but the success rate is over 90% vs. 60% for a Dental Bridge.

Advantages of an Implant vs. Dental Bridge:

  • Implants take longer from start to finish approx 9 months
  • Dental Bridges can be placed in less than 4 weeks
  • Implants have a 90% success rate
  • Dental Bridges have a 65% success rate
  • Implants act as if it is one of your teeth, you can floss and brush normally
  • Dental Bridges are connected and you will have to have a special floss and brush to get underneath the bridge to clean it.
  • Implant as a tooth replacement option is usually more expensive
  • Dental Bridges are cheaper but the success rate is lower, you have to cut on “virgin” teeth and there is more daily maintenance involved.
  • Implants look like a regular single crowned tooth
  • Dental Bridges usually look like they are connected
  • Implants are usually not covered by insurance; Implant Crowns usually are
  • Dental Bridges are usually covered by dental insurance
  • Implant longevity can be about 25 years
  • Dental Bridge longevity is usually around 6-8 years

At Westgate Family Dental we will explain to you all your options for tooth replacement. We like to give our patients an understanding of what they can elect for their dentistry, because at the end of the day it is your mouth and your dollar. We will always recommend the best long term option for your particular situation of course, but the choice is always yours. One thing to keep in mind is not all patients are candidates for dental implants. There are many criteria that need to be met before we can move forward with the dental implant option and if you are a candidate we will present this as an option for tooth replacement. In order to procure success for all procedures we will carefully evaluate your immediate need with an examination and x-ray(s). In some cases we need to take a panoramic x-ray to determine depth of bone to place the implant. Bone is essential to a successful implant placement as it is what makes an implant possible and viable.

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Healthy Mouth = Healthy Body

High Sugar Soda DrinksDid you know that your mouth’s health is a direct link to the rest of your body. For instance, in most occasions individuals who have a healthy oral cavity typically have a healthy body in general. Why? Check it out.

Almost everything unhealthy we put into our body starts with our mouth, whether it be smoking, drinking, eating fatty sugary starchy foods, sugar filled drinks and alcohol, acidic foods etc… all enter the body through the oral cavity or your mouth. So when you put something toxic into your body, your mouth is the first hit and then everything trickles down from there. We’ve compiled a list of some of the worst foods you can consumer that not only affect the oral cavity but the entire body as well.

Sugary Foods/Drinks

Sugar is the #1 cause of tooth decay. Sugar is also hidden in almost all processed foods. The body dislikes sugar so much, if completely taken out of the diet, the reversal of inflammatory diseases have been very successful. However, we know that most people will not remove sugar from their diet, as it is in almost everything we consume. But there are some ways to avoid the higher sugar intake by avoiding the following.

  • Sports Drinks
  • Soda Pop
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Baked Goods
  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Juice
  • Candy
  • Dried Fruit

The chemical reaction sugar has to your teeth’s enamel is an acidic reaction. The more sugar you consume on a daily basis the more acid it produces and erodes the enamel making it’s way to the dentin (the softer part of the tooth) and creates decay and eventually a painful situation.

Besides sugar there are other harmful consumables the affect your teeth. For example, acidic fruit such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits. Over time citric acid can also erode enamel, not as quickly as processes sugars, but all the same can have the same affect.

Processed Foods

Processed Sugary FoodBelieve it or not anything that comes in a package, box or bag is typically processed. Why is processes so bad for you? To start with, processed is basically just that, processed, which also means chemically preserved so it can last for longer periods of time without being cooked. Processed foods are packed with sugar and sodium to help add flavor. Unfortunately, because of the extra process that is added to these foods, the amount of chemicals and sugars are usually triple than raw foods. When buying these kinds of food, make sure to read your labels and ingredients anything that says sugar or sugar alcohols is sugar. These foods cannot only be harmful to your teeth but also harmful to your body.

Some of the biggest processed food culprits are typically anything that says FAT FREE. Read your LABELS! Fat free just means there is no added fat added to that particular product. However, they are usually packed with sugar, which when broken down turns to glucose and glucose eventually turns to fat. So sugar is two fold, it destroys your teeth and can be destructive to your body.

Some examples of high sugar processed foods:

  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Anything That Says Fat Free
  • Boxed Pastas
  • Canned Pasta Sauces
  • Any Packaged Food
  • Cakes, Pies, Brownies, Donuts

All in all the best advice we can give you is to be aware of what you eat. Read your labels and know that everything is okay in moderation. However, if you are drinking or eating processed foods and high sugar drinks on a daily basis you will find that your cavities will become more and more prevalent and your overall health can diminish. Exercise, drink lots of water daily, make healthy choices. Healthy body = Healthy Mouth!

Clear Braces Alternatives

At Westgate Family Dental we want our patients to not only have the best possible dental treatment options, but to have the best possible treatment! Have you ever looked in the mirror and evaluated your smile, a crooked tooth, a tooth that is slight rotated that drives you crazy? No one else might notice this little discrepancy but you do, and guess what, we can help.

You’ve heard of Inivisalign and Clear Correct clear braces, and these methods of straightening your teeth are viable and effective, but they are intended more for slightly complex or highly complex cases. What you might not have heard about is MTM Clear Aligner. Westgate Family Dental is now offering MTM, a clear alternative to clear braces, which is effective, affordable and specific to the shorter term and minor tooth adjustments. Those slightly rotated teeth can now be easily be fixed in the half the time of other clear braces options and there are no composite buttons that need to be placed on the teeth. MTM is a very simple, easy way to make minor adjustment to those teeth (tooth) that drive you crazy.

Benefits of MTM:

  • Virtually Undetectable
  • Surprisingly Affordable
  • Treatment in as little as 3-6 months

Having a gorgeous smile isn’t the only benefit of opting for MTM Clear Aligner. Improving tooth alignment means easier access to tooth surfaces and gums during your daily brushings, reducing the chance of unwanted tartar and plaque accumulation and cavities. With MTM Clear Aligner, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of a beautiful, healthy smile!

Nitrous Oxide – Smile During and After Your Dental Visit

Nitrous OxideWe know coming to the dental office can be very intimidating and scary but it doesn’t have to be. Especially if it is the first time you’ve ever had dental treatment. At Westgate Family Dental we have several options for our patients in regards to sedation and relaxation. The majority of our patients prefer Nitrous Oxide and/or laughing gas. Not to say our other methods are not recommended or attainable, but Nitrous Oxide is a household name one that people can relate to and it is a very easy way to take the edge off during you dental appointment without having to do anything at all except just relax with one of our warm blankets and breathe in the nitrous.

The other benefit of Nitrous is the fact that you do not need to do anything to prepare for this type of conscious sedation. Nitrous is a safe, reversible, colorless, odorless gas that is taken in by inhalation and can be taken out of the blood stream in 10 minutes just by simply breathing in pure oxygen.

Unlike IV Sedation and General Anesthesia we ask all our patients to not eat or drink anything 6 hours prior to their appointment and similar to oral sedation you are also required to have someone drive you to and from your appointment and you are unable to drive the rest of the day. With Nitrous, when you show up for you appointment, whether or not you’ve eaten makes no difference whatsoever. Your assistant will initially place you on oxygen and then Dr. Yarbrough will adjust the level of the Nitrous until you are comfortable. After you are comfortable and relaxed we will inject the area we will be working on with a local anesthetic preceded by a topical solution we place on the tissues to quell the initial injection all the while you are breathing in the Nitrous. During your appointment you will find that you are relaxed and comfortable and really do not care what is going on around you as nitrous is very effective for taking the edge off. After your dental procedure is completed, the doctor will place you on oxygen for 10 minutes and you will be back to normal.

Nitrous Oxide is not for everyone and sometimes in larger cases our patients prefer one of our more sedative options such as IV Conscious Sedation or Oral Sedation, both effective but both require some preparation prior to and after the appointment. For those needing a deeper solution we also offer General Anesthesia and work with a medical Anesthesiologist who manages our General Anesthesia for us.



Plaque vs. Tartar: What’s the difference?

Dental CleaningYou’ve seen the commercials, you’ve heard your dental professionals talk about it, but did you know there is a difference between dental tartar and dental plaque? Yes, there is a difference, and a pretty big difference.

First of all, most plaque/tartar levels vary from patient to patient. Why? There are several explanations for these variances such as diet, beverages, home care, proper dental frequency diagnosis and commitment to professional dental cleanings. Most people are good about some of these items and some are not, regardless at the end of the day, it’s all about maintenance! But really, what is the difference plaque and tartar? Let’s start off with an explanation of both.

What is plaque?

Tartar is the white, sticky, filmy bacteria that forms on your teeth almost immediately after eating food. Food and beverage products with high concentrations of simple carbohydrates, such as white sugars, white flours, high fructose corn syrups etc.. breakdown into sugars which create a bacteria thus turning into an acid that destroys the teeth’s enamel which the body is incapable of repairing. By brushing and flossing this sticky filmy bacterium off the teeth, gums and in between the teeth, potential decay is decreased significantly.

What is tartar/calculus?

Tartar, a.k.a. calculus is the accumulation of the white sticky filmy tartar that hardens on your teeth because of poor home care and lack of removal. Tartar can form in areas that are inaccessible with your toothbrush; by avoiding this, flossing is encouraged. When calculus forms on the hard tissues or teeth, it begins to recess the supporting gum tissues around the tooth which then give way to the disintegration of the bone as well. Why does this matter? It matters because as bone disintegrates so does the integrity of the tooth; teeth can become mobile and more susceptible to periodontal involvement. Periodontal involvement of the teeth can create a slurry of long term issues for your teeth and overall oral health.

What can I do to avoid this?

By daily brushing and flossing, and removing plaque before it hardens into tartar is Step 1. Also, coming in to have your teeth cleaned 2 x’s a year or for your designated frequency is Step 2. We pre-appoint our patients for their dental cleanings because it creates continuity, helps our patients stay on task with their frequency and committed to their oral health. By keeping up with your regular cleanings, your cleanings will be smoother and more effective. We also educate our patients on how to create healthy eating habits when ti comes to eating. By avoiding simple carbohydrates, food and beverages with a lot of sugar, you can create less acidic create, hence creating less plaque and healthier mouth!

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Why Choose Westgate Family Dental?

Westgate Family Dental CrewAt Westgate Family Dental, your oral health is our highest priority. We don’t use fancy words or technical jargon when discussing your treatment with you. We talk to you like you are family and explain your treatment plan in easy to understand language, and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have before treatment.

Dr. Yarbrough has been practicing dentistry for over 30 years and most of his staff has been with him the entire time. What sets Westgate Family Dental apart from most dental practices is the fact you will see the same faces in our office each time you visit. Our belief in consistency and honesty is what drives our philosophy, treatment, and dental practice. We want to be sure you have the very best options for your specific dental needs.

Not every patient is the same and fits into a neat grid. This is why we treat each patient with personalized care. Our long history with our patients speaks for itself, and if you are a new patient you can look forward to a lifelong relationship with us.



Liz, our insurance coordinator, goes above and beyond to make sure you get the most out of your dental insurance benefits. She goes to bat for our patients and works very hard to get every penny out of your insurance and will fight for your reimbursement if necessary.





You can expect the same care and level of service from Christy and Leslie, our scheduling coordinators. They will work with you to find an appointment time that is convenient for your schedule, not ours. They will also be happy to answer any questions you may have about scheduling and send you a reminder text if you need it about your upcoming appointment. They will also set follow up appointments for you every three, four, or six months so that you can enjoy good dental health through regular appointments.


Wendy, RDA


Shari, RDA


Raquel, RDA

Dr. Yarbrough’s assistants have been with him collectively for over 30 years and they can help guide you on the treatment path carefully selected by the doctor. They put your needs first and foremost and will do everything they can to make your visit to our practice comforting. We provide headphones and blankets, and are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have. The doctor’s assistants have a complete knowledge of dentistry and will explain your treatments and options to you in easy to understand language, not with technical terms or jargon. Our assistants strive to make your visit comforting, reassuring, and take the stress out of visiting the dentist.

Our hygienists are in a class of their own. They are here to assist you and guide you by educating you on your oral health. Our hygienists are knowledgeable, proficient and incredible dental health providers. They work very hard to make sure your oral health and preventive plan is tailored to you specific needs. Some of our patients require more frequent cleanings such as every three or four months. Most of our patients need a six month cleaning and some need deeper cleanings.

By monitoring, educating, and keeping tabs on your oral health, including hard and soft tissues and periodontal pocket measurements, we can show you your progress or regression. By having a solid preventive oral health plan in place we can help you achieve good oral health without regression. Our hygienist will teach you proper techniques for brushing, flossing, and educate you on the best oral health products. Our provider, Perio Sciences, suggest the best electric toothbrushes and oral health equipment available to help you maintain your oral health.

Dr. Yarbrough

Dr. Yarbrough

Because of his GPR training Dr. Yarbrough has the ability to offer a wide array of different procedures. We believe in keeping our patients in house as much as possible instead of shuffling you off to specialist for every special procedure. However there are times where we need to call on our specialists to assist us in certain aspects of our procedures, but these times are few and far between and when these times do arise, we only work the very best specialists in Austin, ones we would trust with our own dentistry.

Dr. Yarbrough is able to offer many different dental procedures in-house. These include the following:

  • Implant placement
  • Root canal therapy
  • Advanced root canal therapy,
  • Bone grafts
  • Sinus lifts
  • Surgical removal of (most) wisdom teeth
  • Periodontal surgical procedures
  • IV Sedation
  • Oral Sedation and much more

By offering more services to our patients we can maintain a level of convenience that some practices cannot. We want to make your dental procedures as comfortable and convenient as possible. We also offer digital x-rays which offer 85 to 90% less radiation than traditional x-rays. With digital x-rays we can see your x-ray immediately and can diagnose faster. We also offer CEREC same day dental crowns as well. We have an in house CAD Camera that allows us to take virtual digital impression of your tooth and use the impression to fabricate your crown right in our office.

At Westgate Family Dental we treat our patients like family and our number one priority is your comfort level and trust of our services. We want our patients to come into our practice with confidence not fear, and we will do whatever it takes make you happy and comfortable.

Night Guards – A TMJ Treatment That Works!

bruxismAt Westgate Family Dental we treat all our new patients with a very thorough Comprehensive Examination including, oral cancer screening, charting of existing restorations and needed treatment, and periodontal therapy. More importantly, we look at your bone levels, tissue health and of course your occlusal function. We look for visual wear patterns on the teeth and also ask our patients several questions when trying to determine whether or not they have TMD/TMJ issues. Some of those questions are as follows:

  1. Do you have muscle soreness in the neck, shoulders and/or upper back?
  2. Do you have frequent headaches?
  3. Do you sleep well at night?
  4. Do you wake up with soreness in your jaw or neck?

The good news is, we have options for TMJ Treatment. By asking these questions and gathering this important data, we can help determine whether or not our patients would best served with a night guard or bite splint. Believe it or not, 7 out of 10 patients have issues with TMD or TMJ, and most of the time it goes un-diagnosed or untreated because of lack of a proactive approach. We take a very hands-on approach because TMD can be a very destructive condition.

The destruction can be so great it can overpower a patient’s overall dentition and oral health. Clenching and grinding is the leading cause of broken teeth, destroyed dental work, bone deformation and abfractions. Untreated, clenching and grinding can not only destroy your oral health and function but also destroy your wallet. If TMD goes too long without being treated the financial investment can increase significantly. Why? Because clenching and grinding wears down your enamel into the soft part of our teeth called the dentin. As a result our teeth over time will need to be covered with crowns to protect them from decay and bacteria. These kind of restorations can add up very quickly! Ouch!


Why and what is a night guard/bite splint?


The night guard or bite splint is like putting your jaw in removable cast. Once we put the night guard in place it starts to deprogram the brain as far as function and how your teeth come together. Once we put you in a balanced bite splint, any brain receptors that might send the bite into an incorrect function and caused inflammation diminish quickly. By tricking the brain, the clenching and grinding process ceases, resulting in an asymptomatic sleep pattern and reduced inflammation and soreness.

At Westgate Family Dental we do all that we can to make sure our patients have every treatment option available to them. Because Bruxism is so destructive to the entire oral cavity we always take a proactive approach, and this is why we ask the questions we ask and provide the treatment we provide. We are able to keep your costs to a minimum because we fabricate most of our custom bite splints in house. By doing this we can keep everything in one place, one stop and cost effective!

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Sealants? Why not?

smiling patientIf someone told you if you painted sealer on your home deck you could increase the deck life by 80%, would you do it? That’s basically the same mentality with dental sealants. Dental Sealants have been around for many years and quite honestly provide a service that is paramount to the longevity and avoidance of cavities.

What is a dental sealant?

First maybe we should explain the anatomy of the tooth. As you may have noticed when looking at your teeth in a mirror, you can see grooves throughout your tooth. These fissures or grooves allow for us to break down food more efficiently. Because these grooves and fissures are so profound, it is easy to get microscopic portions of food trapped in these grooves, and if not brushed out on a daily basis, the acid produced from carbohydrates sits in these grooves and eventually eats away at the enamel thus causing decay.

So, why a sealant?

sealantsHere’s why and what a sealant is and does: A sealant is a liquid clear plastic filling material similar to a composite (tooth colored filling). When cured with a high intensity UV light, the material hardens in the grooves. There are a couple basic steps that are involved when placing a sealant. The tooth must be cleaned with a pumice material, then washed off, and then an acid etch is placed for 20 seconds to assist with drying and cleaning the tooth even further and prepares for the bonding stage of the procedure. Bonding material is lightly placed on the tooth and then light cured. After curing, the sealant material is placed in the grooves and also light cured until hard. This thin layer of composite will help your teeth from getting decay. However, this doesn’t mean you will not brush your teeth anymore, because brushing is still preventive measure that needs be taken so sugars do not sit on the areas of your teeth the sealants do not cover. Keep in mind as well, sealants do not last forever! We’ve seen some sealants last up to 5 years but the real number is between 1-5 years given there is no preparation to the tooth to mechanically retain a sealant, other than the bonding process.

Honestly, everyone can benefit from sealants; they are not limited to children but adults also have sealants placed. If you have teeth that have never had any fillings, even as an adult it could be beneficial to have sealants. Any extra protection helps! Even though Sealants can last up to 5 years there is no guarantee with wear and tear over time how long sealants can effectively last, but even if they lasted just a couple of years, that is two years of effective protection and cavity fighting power!

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Be clean before you get cleaned!

tooth and bacteriaDid you know that your toothbrush is a vessel for bacteria? And if it is not appropriately kept, you may be amassing an assortment of germs and bacteria and transferring these to your oral cavity when you brush your teeth? The ADA recently came out with a study along with the University of Alabama that has shown and proven the importance of proper storage of your toothbrush and the effects of bacteria that grow on your toothbrush.

It has been said for years to make sure you always store your toothbrush 8 feet away from your toilet, because fecal fumes and bacteria can shower your toothbrush and expose you to intestinal bacteria, coliforms, yeasts and Staphylococci (Staph Infection). Yes, that’s right! According to Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, assistant professor of periodontology in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama Birmingham, “Appropriate storage and care of your toothbrush are important to achieving personal oral hygiene and optimally effective plaque removal. “

Our mouth has hundreds of varieties of microorganisms which are capable of transporting to your toothbrush when you are brushing your teeth. As we all know, mostly all of us store our toothbrushes in the bathroom, which can be considered the cleanest room in your home but can also expose your toothbrush and your oral cavity to a slurry of gastrointestinal microorganisms that can be transmitted by “fecal-oral” path. According to Dr. Geisinger “The number of microorganisms can vary wildly from undetectable to 1 million colony-forming units.” Proper care of your toothbrush is the essential to your health overall.

So the question remains, what is the correct way and method to store your toothbrush in order to avoid transference of these bacteria and microorganisms?

What should I do if I am sick? Should I continue to use the same toothbrush?

It has been recommended by the ADA to throw away your toothbrush and replace it after sickness. It’s not worth the risk; no one likes to be sick let alone repeatedly sick! Toss it!

When should I replace my toothbrush?

We recommend you replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Not only do your toothbrush bristles breakdown over time and become less effective, they can also accumulate harmful bacteria that can not only affect you but if stored close to another toothbrush can cross contaminate another toothbrush as well.

We recommend the following to not only procure your oral health but to also offset any accumulation of bacteria in your mouth.

  1. Wash your hands (thoroughly and often)
  2. Regular Cleanings. Don’t miss your routine dental cleaning, exam and x-rays. Make sure to pre-appoint for your 6, 4 or 3 month cleaning so you won’t ever miss a cleaning. By committing to having your teeth cleaned regularly you can decrease the bacterial burden that accrues in your mouth in a very short extent of time. By having your teeth cleaned and examined we can not only catch cavities in their early stages, but we can also eradicate the bacteria that accumulate and are non-removable by just your toothbrush.
  3. Antimicrobial Mouth Rinse. Use Antimicrobial mouth rinse before you brush your teeth. This assists you in decreasing the bacterial burden in your mouth that you can obtain from your toothbrush (if not properly stored).
  4. Don’t share your toothbrush. Ever.
  5. Floss regularly. By flossing your teeth you are removing bacteria from between the teeth, where your toothbrush is incapable of reaching. We recommend you floss 2-3 times a day, but even once is better than nothing. Create a habit, start one time a day and make it part of your regular routine just like brushing your teeth!

Procuring your oral health is paramount! We only get one set of adult teeth, so take care and be wise with your decisions. Get your teeth cleaned regularly, brush and floss daily, wash your hands and use commons sense. Don’t share your toothbrush, ever! By all means store your toothbrush in a cool dry place, preferably upside down in a cup to air dry and make sure to clean out the cup daily. The location where you store your toothbrush, can also accumulate harmful bacteria, so take care and be smart but be consistent!

Dental Health and Children

Dental Health and Children

Children-Oral-HealthThere has always been debate about when to bring your kiddo into the dental office for their first dental appointment. Oral health and good dental habits start with that very first visit. The reason for this is because the first dental visit for any child is defining and memorable. Even if it is as simple as just counting teeth and sitting in the big dental chair, it’s a giant leap towards being comfortable with being at the dentist office. It’s understandable that most kids might feel weary of their first dental visit, but if you start them young the results are usually very positive. We recommend that parents bring their kids into the dentists between the ages of 2 and 3. By 2 they are already almost in full dentition and by 3 they possibility of getting cavities, are very high.

Is 2 years old too young? Why can’t I wait until they get their permanent teeth?

Actually it is not too young! The reason for this is because most kids have all their baby teeth by the age of 2. Baby teeth enamel is softer than that of adult enamel; which gives way to the higher risk of cavities and decay. And even though kids get a second set of teeth when their adult teeth erupt, ramped decay in baby teeth can affect the growth of the adult teeth and in some cases can cause decay in the adult tooth if the adult tooth is on the verge of erupting hence why you want to be proactive and bring your kids in when they have their baby teeth.

There are two main reasons why we ask parents to bring their kids into the dental office at this age.

  • Familiarity and Comfort: Studies have shown the younger the dental patient, the better the dental patient in the future. Even if it’s scary for them at first, children will have a greater appreciation for oral health and dental care.
  • Examination: Even if we are just counting teeth and there is no decay, an exam is vital to the longevity of the oral cavity. Sometimes we find decay and oral issues that might need to be addressed even in baby teeth. And, because children’s enamel is softer than adult enamel, children’s decay rates are triple of that of an adult.

What are the advantages of bringing children to the dentist at an early age?

Since most kids will not get their permanent adult teeth until around 6-12 years old, it is best to maintain what they do have. The advantage of seeing a dentist so young is to assist in the encouragement of good oral hygiene habits and regular checkups to maintain decay levels.

When you child begins to lose their teeth there are some key reinforcement points we like to have parents encourage.

1. Encourage and show your child how to floss their teeth and do this before bedtime
2. Limit the amount of sugary drinks and foods especially in between meals and nighttime.
3. Remind your child to brush their teeth while you monitor and help where needed. The most important part of this is process, developing a habit and making this a part of your child’s regular routine.
4. See the dentist regularly 1-2 times a year is sufficient. Because decay can grow very quickly with children, we encourage parents to bring their kids 2 x’s year for their examinations, x-rays (when old enough) and polishing/cleaning and fluoride.

By creating good habits at an early age, you are not only setting up your children for a life of good oral hygiene but also an understanding of the importance of bi-annual dental visits and oral health.

Dental Implants – The Future of Dentistry

Have you ever wondered what a Dental Implant is and what is its purpose? A Dental Implant is a long term alternative to a Dental Bridge. Dr. Yarbrough has been placing Dental Implants for over 10 years. He completed an Implantology Preceptorship at University of Texas San Antonio Health and Science and has worked with several different implant systems and procedures. The purpose of a Dental Implant is to replace a missing tooth, increase chewing power and aesthetically improve one’s smile. Depending on whether or not a patient is a candidate for a dental implant, implants are a great alternative to a dental bridge. With proper maintenance and regular examinations and cleaning, dental implants can have a success rate up to 97%.

What is a Dental Implant?

Implant placementA Dental Implant is a titanium fixture that is placed in the jaw bone to act and resemble the root of a tooth. After several months of Osseo Integration, the implant is used as an anchor to hold a fixed tooth- like restoration called a crown or cap.

Dental Implant vs. Dental Bridge

Over the years, Dental Implants have slowly replaced the placement of Dental Bridges. A dental bridge conceptually is the same as a Dental Implant because it is used to replace a missing tooth. The biggest difference is a dental bridge involves 2 other teeth and in most cases, teeth that do not have any issues, which means we have to drill on virgin teeth, teeth that do not necessarily have decay or need a restoration. The Dental Bridge, bridges the gap between the two anchor teeth and the missing tooth. Dental Bridges act as one unit. Disadvantages are: difficulty flossing, having to drill on virgin teeth and lower success rate as almost all Dental Bridges will need to be replaced at some point. The advantage of a dental bridge vs. a Dental Implant is cost, most insurances will cover part of the cost of a dental bridge where as they will more than likely not any of the cost of a Dental Implant.

Implant CrownA Dental Implant achieves the same thing a dental bridge does; it replaces the missing tooth, increases chewing power, and helps maintain opposing teeth’s health and position. The difference between the dental bridge and Dental Implant is the Dental Implant only replaces the missing tooth, there is no drilling on virgin teeth, the success rate is up to 97%, and the procedure is simple and less invasive. The disadvantages to a Dental Implant is cost and it is a less than immediate solution as an implant has to Osseo Integration and heal before it is loaded with the dental restoration (crown). Most insurances do NOT cover the cost of a Dental Implant, however most will cover the cost of the restoration or crown.

How do I choose?

When making a decision about a Dental Implant vs. Dental Bridge consider: longevity vs. short term. It is more than likely you will have to have your dental bridge replaced at some point, which will increase your cost significantly down the road. Whereas Dental Implants rarely have to be replaced, they have a higher success rate and are affixed in the jaw bone, you can floss an implant as if it were a regular tooth, if in fact it does fail, you only replace one tooth as opposed to 3 on a Dental Bridge. When a dental bridge fails you have to replace the entire bridge so from a cost perspective, a Dental Implant is your best solution long term.

Success/Failure Rate

• Dental Implants have a success rate of up to 97%
• Dental Bridges will all fail at some point and will need to be replaced

Home Care and Maintenance

Dental Implants require very little maintenance but to increase your success rate there are things you can do to help maintain the life of an implant.
• Good Home Care (brushing, flossing daily)
• Regular Dental Examinations and Cleanings
• No Smoking

Will I hurt after my Implant is placed?

When a Dental Implant is placed there is a window of healing time that needs to take place in order to ensure the success of your Dental Implant. 4-6 months is appropriate healing time for almost all Dental Implants as it needs to Osseo Integrate (integrate into the jaw bone). Post-operative pain is very minimal; most individuals do not feel any pain after Dental Implant placement.

Does my dental insurance cover dental implants?

Most dental insurances do not cover Dental Implants, however most insurances will partially cover the crown or restoration that is placed on the Dental Implant.

What else are Dental Implants used for?

Not only can a Dental Implant replace missing teeth it can also be used to anchor removable dentures. Basically what this means is a number of Dental Implants are placed in the jaw bone acting as anchors; once they have healed or Osseo Integrated, snaps or buttons are embedded in the denture which then allow the denture to clip/snap into the Dental Implant fixtures. This gives individuals more chewing power with their dentures and also keeps the dentures in place.

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All you want for Christmas is an electric toothbrush, right?

toothbrushElectric toothbrushes have been around in the US since the 1960’s. Over time we’ve seen the electric toothbrush evolve from not just an electric toothbrush but also to a sonic toothbrush. We know you hear us hammer on about the importance of brushing and caring for your teeth, and procuring your oral health as a result. And let’s face it, some tooth brushing is better than no tooth-brushing. What if I told you that brushing your teeth with ANY electric toothbrush is almost 100 times more effective than the traditional approach? Yes, it’s true, traditional/manual tooth-brushing allows for approximately only 300 strokes per minute. This might seem like a lot but in the scheme of things and in this day and age of technology, it’s not.

One of the most frequent questions our patients ask is:What toothbrush should I buy and how much should I spend?

Answer: spend what you can afford and honestly any electric toothbrush is better than the traditional approach. However, always make sure you are using a soft toothbrush head and even the cheap $10 Crest electric toothbrushes give you the option of a soft toothbrush head. It is best to avoid using a hard or firm toothbrush head as the results can be quite destructive to your soft tissues. Hard toothbrushes and improper brushing can wear the supporting tissues around the teeth and can over time expose the roots of the teeth which are irreversible and can turn into an unconformable situation.

What’s the difference between a Sonic toothbrush and an Electric toothbrush?

The difference all comes down to rotations per minute. For instance, an Electric toothbrush outputs between 3,000-7,500 rotations per minute whereas a sonic toothbrush outputs between 30,000-40,000 rotations per minutes! Sonic toothbrushes tend to be a little bit more expensive and some people do not like the sound of a sonic toothbrush even though they are the most effective. However, both types of toothbrushes are definitely more beneficial when it comes to preserving your oral health, gum tissues, teeth and removal of plaque and bacteria in the oral cavity.

Benefits of an electric/sonic toothbrush:

  • Most powered toothbrushes have 2 minute timers built in for optimal brushing
  • Long Term Results
  • More Efficient Brushing
  • Faster Brushing
  • Proficient Stain/Plaque Removal

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Peridontal Disease

Progression of Periodontal Disease

November is Diabetes Awareness month, and no better time to talk about the importance of your oral health and how it relates to the rest of your body especially if you have Diabetes.

We all know that the importance of bi-annual cleanings and for individuals who have periodontal disease, 3-4 times a year. Your oral health is part of an entire systemic process and it can distress your overall health. Individuals with periodontal disease stand a slightly higher risk to heart disease and other infections that could affect your health as whole.

Individuals, who have Diabetes, stand a higher risk of infection and experience more difficulty fighting periodontal disease hence the need for cleanings 3-4 times a year. Individuals with Diabetes who do not have their blood sugar or glucose levels under control, can struggle fighting infections and typically have more bacteria and plaque than the average person. What this means is these individuals are at a higher risk of having oral health issues and fighting infections in general.

Periodontal disease is an oral disease that affects the gum, tooth and bone. Periodontal disease can increase an individual’s ability to fight bacteria that invades the oral cavity. For this very reason, patients with periodontal disease are seen more than twice a year to remove these colonies of bacteria that form in a smaller period of time. If periodontal disease goes untreated, these bacteria that corrode the gum and bone could eventually make its way to the heart, and possibly causing systemic issues and potential heart issues as well.

Undiagnosed Diabetes is a serious health situation as it can contribute to high blood pressure and is also related to high cholesterol which can hugely escalate the threat of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Individuals living with Diabetes can be at greater risk of elevated blood sugar levels resulting in infections from periodontal disease. It is recommended to get your blood sugar levels at least once a year at your annual physical.

A clean mouth is a healthy mouth and in most cases a clean mouth is a healthy body!

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Oral Cancer: The Silent Threat

“The American Cancer Society’s current estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States for 2013 are”:

  • About 36,000 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer.
  • An estimated 6,850 people will die of these cancers.

Oral Cancer ScreeningDuring your bi-annual cleanings, our hygienists perform a preliminary oral cancer screening and Dr. Yarbrough performs a full oral cancer screening during his exams on all our patients. This may appear as a redundant practice, but it is our job to manage, capture and understand your oral health and part of that is by being aware of the potential of oral cancer threats. During an oral cancer screening we can gather precise information to assist us in discovering early onset of oral lesions on the roof of the mouth, tongue, throat and gum tissues.

By performing these thorough checks during your cleanings we are able discover minor growths that are simply detachable in their early stages, in most cases. However, when regular examination are prolonged and not performed two times per year it is quite possible that if a growth begins forming it without being diagnosed, it could potentially progress into a silent threat to the oral cavity as a whole. Typically in the early stages of these growths they are challenging to be seen by the unaided eye, hence the importance of performing a thorough oral cancer screening by a dental professional. By using instruments and telescopic loops, we are capable of seeing tissues up close and can find abnormalities very quickly, usually.

In addition to our traditional methods and regular instruments for monitoring oral cancer, we also use a Velscope to assist us in the early detection of Oral Cancer. This astounding technology allows us to detect abnormal tissue structures by using a “distinctive blue-spectrum light which causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce”. Healthy tissues “fluoresce in distinctive patterns — patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease”. The Velscope allows us to see irregular tissue patterns that we would have otherwise not have seen with the unassisted eye. The Velscope is non-invasive, safe, quick, and precise tool. This light is a potentially lifesaving instrument that can help us detect the early onset of Oral Cancer.

Oral Cancer is a silent threat because it usually does not become painful and extremely apparent to the naked until it is too late. Undetected it can cause extenuating damage to the oral cavity and potentially throughout the body. Once diagnosed, Oral Cancer has the potential to spread to the larynx, esophagus and lungs. If detected early on, there are several methods of treatment, removal and other procedures to help procure the longevity of the overall health of the oral cavity and body. Preventative medicine is always your best bet, by seeing your dental professional twice a year with a periodic examination, Oral Cancer can most of the time be identified during a treatable stage!

Here is a YouTube video explaining how the Velscope works:

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Brushing 2.0 – Get Informed!

Thought You Knew Everything About Brushing Your Teeth? Think Again!

by Trey M. Latiolais, D.D.S.

Taken from our blog:

Recently, we received a question from a patient, they asked:

“Does it promote cavities (or wear enamel) to eat acidic food like tomatoes and then brush your teeth shortly after?”


tooth-imageEXPLANATION: This is an interesting question that I feel like will benefit the vast majority of readers that come across it. If you ask most people when the best time to brush their teeth was, the answer you would hear over and over would be “after meals and right before bed.” WRONG. Another common answer would be “after breakfast and before bed”. Again I would argue, you guessed it, WRONG. I know this is hard to believe, because it flies in the face of what the majority of people have either been taught or assumed their entire lives. So when is the RIGHT time to brush your teeth? BEFORE MEALS!! I know this seems backwards, but that is because people either have no understanding or don’t fully grasp two main concepts: A) What causes cavities and even more surprising B) why do we brush in the first place? By answering these two questions first, we’ll be able to better wrap our heads around the logic.

Cavities are essentially caused by ACID destruction of tooth structure. Two primary factors contribute to this.
1) Acidic foods and beverages can weaken enamel and dentin. Things like soda and sweet tea are a double whammy since they are both acidic and also feed the bacteria to produce more acid.
2) Certain bacteria, specifically Strep mutans, digest sucrose (sugar) and other fermentable carbohydrates producing acid as a byproduct.

Common sense tells us that we should brush to get the food off of our teeth, right? Wrong. We brush our teeth specifically to remove plaque and bacteria from our teeth. Food and debris removal is just an added bonus so we don’t get made fun of for having that little piece of green leafy something stuck on our front tooth…you know what I’m talking about.

SO…….If we brush AFTER meals, our teeth have plaque/bacteria on them when we eat or drink. This means that our teeth are being attacked not only by the natural acidity of what we’re ingesting, but also from the acid produced by the bacteria. It only takes 5 minutes for these bacteria to start creating acid. In contrast, it takes 30 minutes for your body to regulate the acidity caused by these processes back to a neutral environment. By the time you brush your teeth, it’s too late. In addition, if you brush your teeth following this acid exposure (especially with abrasive toothpaste and/or a hard toothbrush), the tooth structure is going to be more susceptible to mechanical abrasion or erosion. If we brush BEFORE meals, the plaque and bacteria are decreased, limiting the amount of acid that can potentially harm our teeth.

SUMMARY: It’s best to brush first thing in the morning BEFORE breakfast and again after work, but BEFORE dinner. It’s still good to brush before bed, but just make sure it has been at least 30 minutes since you last ate or had your favorite carbonated beverage!

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6700 West Gate Blvd
Suite 101 Austin
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