Do You Hate Needles?

Do you hate needles?If you fear shots, injections, or medical needles in general, you may be suffering from trypanophobia—and an estimated 10 percent of Americans share the same aversion. The general public calls it “needle phobia” but the DSM-IV classified it as a specific phobia of medical needles as of 1994.

Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr understand these fears, and Walker-Barr DMD treats patients dealing with them every day. We do everything we can to keep your dental treatment as comfortable and stress-free as possible, but it’s good to be aware of needle phobia and its effects.

Negative Effects of Needle Phobia

  • Dreading medical care, especially shots and injections
  • High blood pressure, elevated heart rate, anxiety
  • Extremely low blood pressure, fainting
  • Avoiding the dentist to avoid possible injections, even routine checkups

Causes of Needle Phobia

The short answer: scientists aren’t sure. It does seem to be inherited—about 80% of sufferers have a close relative with the same phobia. It is possible, however, that it is a learned fear rather than a genetic one. Some evolutionary psychologists maintain the fear may be rooted in survival before antibiotics, when puncture wounds could be deadly, concluding fear of puncturing the skin was an evolutionary adaptation.

Treatments for Needle Phobia

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven an effective treatment for phobia, as have exposure therapies like systematic desensitization or therapy involving hypnosis. Many dentists offer “painless injections”, and if you’re really having trouble relaxing, ask Dr. David Walker or Dr. Sarah Barr about sedation dentistry options.

Your Brandon dental team will do everything we can to help you overcome any dental anxiety or fears. Get in touch with us today and we’ll talk you through it!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Posted in Blog, Dental Services

Suffering with a Sore Throat & Bad Breath? You Might Have Tonsil Stones

Tonsil StonesYou’ve heard of kidney and gallbladder stones, but have you heard of tonsil stones or experienced their formation yourself? The symptoms of tonsil stones may include:

  • Bad breath
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain

None of these are pleasant, so your dental team at Walker-Barr DMD is here to tell you ways you may be able to treat them at home as well as offer advice on how you can prevent them from returning.

Leave the Stones to Sisyphus

Tonsil stones are the result of bacteria and debris accumulation in what are called the crypts of your tonsils, so your best defense is—surprise!—a diligent oral hygiene routine!

Your tonsils are an important part of a strong immune system; in fact, the American Academy of Otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat doctors) refers to them as your “body’s first line of defense.” That’s just one example of how your oral health is linked to your overall wellness, which is something we work hard to convey to our dental family because we want you to feel as fantastic as possible!

So, what should you do if you suspect you have tonsil stones? You may be able to see them if you open your mouth widely and stick out your tongue (like doctors ask you to when they use tongue depressors)—they may be white, yellow, or gray nodes on your tonsils, or they might be burrowed within your tonsil and thus out of sight.

Whether or not you see any, you may be able to dislodge them by gargling salt water or using a water flosser to flush the debris from your tonsils. Or, better yet, why not contact your Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr today to schedule a visit? We can perform a thorough and gentle examination and get you back on the road to optimal oral health!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Posted in Blog, Dental Health, Dental Services

A Deeper Dental Cleaning: Scaling & Root Planing

a deeper dental cleaning: scaling and root planingTeeth are typically the first thing that comes to mind for people when they hear the words dentist or dentistry, which makes sense—the root word dent actually means tooth! However, your teeth require healthy gums to hold them in place.

Did you know gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss? That’s why it’s important for us to examine your gums just as thoroughly as your teeth, and for you to remain diligent about your oral hygiene routines and cleaning visits with your Brandon dental team.

If You Have Gum Disease

First, know that you’re not alone. Nearly half of adults in the U.S. over the age of 30 experience chronic periodontitis (the advanced stage of gum disease, which starts as gingivitis). Gum disease can be treated, and one of our first steps might be scaling and root planing.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a visit with Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr  to ensure your teeth and gums are in good shape, contact Walker & Barr, DMD today!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Posted in Blog, Dental Services

What Does Your Dentist Have Up Their Sleeve? Tools of the Dental Trade

Unless you’re frequently using your teeth as scissors or a nail file (we hope you aren’t!), the most common things placed in your mouth are food, beverages, eating utensils, and your oral hygiene BFFs: floss and toothbrushes. This script gets flipped when you visit your Brandon dentist, though.

At Walker & Barr, DMD, we utilize a few different types of gadgetry to evaluate your state of oral health and determine if anything is necessary to improve it—from our traditional and hand-held mirrors to our sickle probes (not as scary as it sounds), up to the digital x-rays and intraoral camera images we’ll take to create the most accurate record of your oral health.

All Bark & No Bite

You’ve heard this phrase when it comes to doggos with a ferocious bark that end up turning into cuddle puddles when you pet them, but you’d probably never think to apply it to dental visits and tools, right? Well, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr cares about your comfort, so you can count on their touch to be gentle and for consistently check in with you on how you’re feeling while we use the tools of our trade.

One of the things we love about dentistry is its evolution, which is evident when we see how tools have been upgraded over the decades to maximize your comfort and convenience—like the dental drill being swapped for air abrasion whenever possible.

Do you have questions about the tools we’ve mentioned in this blog, or any other dental related topic? Contact us today to schedule a visit and have them answered! We love talking all things dentistry and sharing smiles with our Brandon friends and neighbors.

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Posted in Blog, Dental Technology

Dental Implants: A Brief History of Tooth Replacement Innovation

Today’s dental implants boast a long-term success rate of near 97%. Because implants support surrounding teeth, encourage new tissue growth and continued bone formation, and give patients back full chewing ability and a complete smile, they have become the industry standard for tooth replacement.

Today, your Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr, would like to share some interesting history about dental implants and how we got to where we are today.

History of Dental Implants

  • 4,000 Years Ago: The first record of temporary dental implants were bamboo pegs used to replace missing teeth in China.
  • 3,000 Years Ago: The first recorded case of a metal replacement tooth (a copper peg) fixed to a jawbone occurred in the mouth of an Egyptian king. Experts believe it may have been placed after death due to how painful placement would have been to a living person. There is also evidence that the Egyptians tried to stabilize teeth with ligature gold wire around this same era.
  • 2,300 Years Ago: An iron tooth was found among real teeth in a Celtic grave in France. Experts again concurred replacement teeth like these were likely to have been placed after death.
  • 2,000 Years Ago: People replaced missing teeth with human teeth purchased from underprivileged people or teeth stolen from corpses or animals. Teeth like these would be rejected by the host due to infection.
  • 1,350 Years Ago: An excavation of Mayan ruins in Honduras uncovered a jawbone with what may be the oldest recorded permanent tooth replacement using seashells. The replacement tooth had actually begun the process of fusion with the jawbone, indicating that it was placed during life, not after death.
  • 800 AD: A stone implant was found among cultural artifacts from early Honduras.
  • 18th Century: A European doctor implanted a still-developing tooth into a rooster – and the tooth integrated with the rooster’s tissues.
  • 1886: A porcelain crown mounted on a platinum disc, silver capsules, corrugated porcelain, and iridium tubes were some of the materials to make implants during this time without much success.
  • 1930s: Drs. Alvin and Moses Strock are believed to be the first to place the first endosteal (in the bone) implant made of a biocompatible metal.
  • 1940s: A number of different doctors continued to experiment with and design implants made of different types of metal, perfecting the design along the way to allow for greater stability in the jaw.
  • 1952: A Swedish orthopedic surgeon named Branemark discovered titanium fused and regrew bone while studying blood flow in rabbits.
  • 1960s: The 1960s saw more innovations in implant design from many different doctors. Implant design expanded to allow for placement into the maxilla or the mandible and to accommodate more than one missing tooth.
  • 1965: Branemark placed his first titanium implant into a live human volunteer. Branemark continued to research bone healing, performing experiments and publishing studies, eventually making dental implants a commercial endeavor in 1978.
  • 1980s: The 1980s ushered in the use of titanium for implants, which have continued to improve to the present day. Recent developments include antibiotic coatings to prevent infection and even more biocompatible materials like zirconia and ceramic.

Walker & Barr, DMD can give you all the information you need about the history of implants and how they exist today and everything they can do to bring back your full, healthy smile. If you are curious to discover more about implants or wonder if you could be an implant candidate, contact us today!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Posted in Blog, Dental News

Dental Friends with Benefits

At Walker & Barr, DMD, our goal is to make your dental visits as pleasant as possible. Part of this effort includes taking the complication out of utilizing your insurance benefits. Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr knows there can be confusing terms and stipulations in insurance plans that can be a barrier between you and the care you need. We aim to remove that barrier by filing paperwork for our Brandon patients and providing the details necessary for you to make the best decisions possible for your oral and overall health.

Am I covered?

Similar to medical coverage, there are numerous types of dental plans, typically with a focus on prevention. What does this mean? It means Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr wants to keep your mouth free of infection and pain, and your smile bright and beautiful. If you are insured, your dental plan can help us achieve this goal. How? Usually with 100% coverage of preventive services, such as professional cleanings (known as prophylaxis in the dental world), x-rays, and checkups.

If your employer offers dental coverage, you might wonder if it’s worth buying into. We know the costs can seem steep, but when you consider how important your oral health is to your overall health, and the fact that you want to keep all of the teeth you have, its significance becomes a bit easier to recognize.

What else is included?

When you wind up in need of more than a cleaning (it can happen to the best of us), most carriers will pay 80% of the cost for cavity fillings, tooth extractions, and/or root canals. If you’ve suffered a dental injury or an infection that’s caused the need for more extensive restorative services, such as crowns, bridges, or dental implants, these may be covered up to 50%. When it comes to cosmetic treatments such as Invisalign®, teeth whitening, or veneers, we’re sorry to say that insurance rarely covers these expenses and you will have to pay out of pocket.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t look into these options if you desire a confidence boost in the form of a brighter, more beautiful smile. Many dental offices accept payment from financing companies like Compassionate Finance™ and CareCredit®.

Common Insurance Terms

  1. Premiums – Your premium is the annual or monthly cost of your insurance. If you’re insured through your employer, this is often extracted from your pay. Your premium does not include copayments or deductibles.
  2. Copayments – Your copay is either a predetermined flat rate per visit or a percentage of the total appointment cost. This will vary plan by plan.
  3. Deductibles – This is probably the most confusing part of insurance coverage for most people. Insurers are used to answering the question: “Why do I have a deductible when I already pay a premium?” Although it seems superfluous, it’s to keep the monthly or annual costs lower, as well as the copay. When you’ve met your deductible, your insurance plan will kick in and cover the percentages as outlined in your plan.
  4. Plan Maximums – With the focus on prevention when it comes to oral health and dental insurance, the majority of dental coverage plans have maximums, and they tend to run low. If you’ve met your annual maximum, additional services will require out-of-pocket payment. This is another instance when financing plans can come in handy, but even more importantly: your diligent oral hygiene routine, a healthy diet, and a healthy lifestyle.

What if I don’t use my benefits?

Unfortunately, there are no rollovers in dental insurance. If you’re paying a premium, it makes sense to take advantage of preventive care at 100% of the cost, or other services at a discount. Besides, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr loves seeing your smile and takes pride in making visits pleasant!

The more you see us, the more we’re able to note what is and isn’t normal for your teeth, gums, tongue, saliva production, jawbone… the list is longer than most suspect at first! If we do catch a problem, it’s easier on your health, schedule, and wallet to treat it at the earliest stage possible. It’s also hard to beat the feeling of a professional cleaning. Our hygienists are gentle but thorough when it comes to removing tough tartar, which forms rather quickly if plaque is left to harden.

How can Walker & Barr, DMD help?

If you have additional questions about your dental insurance, you may be able to find the answers you need on the carrier’s website, by calling them directly, or reaching out to us, your Brandon dentist. We are happy to help you get the most from your benefits, and we can provide pre-treatment estimates so you can budget accordingly.

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Posted in Blog, Patient Care

Can Bleeding Gums Cause a Heart Attack?

What is the Oral-Systemic Link?

You’ve always heard that it’s important to take care of your teeth. Brush and floss every day, and see the dentist for good oral health. But did you know that your oral health could directly affect your overall health? And the road goes both ways—problems with your overall health show signs in your mouth, too.

Did you know that gum disease increases your risk of heart attack by 50%? Did you know that plaque buildup in your mouth can be an indicator of and contribute to plaque buildup in your arteries? These mouth-body connections are called the “oral-systemic link”. Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr, your Brandon dentists, explain the important ways your body systems work together for better or worse.

Gum Disease
Infection in your gums can significantly increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, low birth weight babies, bacterial pneumonia and more. In fact, gum disease is directly linked to at least 52 other systemic diseases. If you get gum disease you may be at a higher risk of developing health problems in these areas because:

  • Your mouth makes a cozy home for bacteria to thrive.
  • Your gums are full of blood vessels that can quickly move bacterial infections like gum disease into other parts of your body.
  • Gum disease is a sign of chronic inflammation, which can contribute to many other systemic diseases.

Gum disease is an inflammation of your gum tissue that has many other negative side effects. In order to protect your mouth from gum disease and protect your overall health, it’s important to know your risk factors and to ask your dentist about prevention.

Here’s what we know about gum disease and other diseases:

  • In the case of diabetes, studies show a clear association between periodontal disease (gum disease) and a rise in blood sugar. But on the bright side, treating your gum disease is likely to also improve your blood sugar levels.
  • If you have either gum disease or heart disease, you’re at a much greater risk of having the other. Each of these diseases leaves similar bacteria in your blood.
  • Women may be at an increased risk of developing gum disease during pregnancy because hormonal changes make it harder for them to fight off illness. Gum disease in pregnancy has also been linked to low birth weight, which is a negative symptom for newborns.
  • Because your mouth is a part of your respiratory system, improving oral care can help treat and prevent respiratory problems and lung disease.

Daily brushing and flossing are incredibly important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. But if you have gum disease, it’s important to treat the infection, which means more than just brushing and flossing or scaling and root planing. Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr can prescribe a special rinse to get your infection under control.


Oral Health & Stress

Occlusion is the resting position of your teeth and jaw when it’s closed. If your teeth cross over each other in an unhealthy way, you have a malocclusion. Malocclusion (also called a bad bite) is the number one reason people are referred to the orthodontist. A bad bite can cause problems with speaking and breathing and cause chronic pain in your jaw known as TMJ.

Any or all of these issues can cause you stress and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. And as we know, sleep is very important for maintaining good overall health. If you think your oral health is getting in the way of you catching those zzz’s, talk to your Brandon dentists. Sleep apnea is another oral-systemic link associated with numerous diseases that your dentist can help with.


Social Confidence

While the oral-systemic link is usually a medical term, we think that your social and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. Your confidence and personal satisfaction in life can be greatly impacted by how healthy and clean your smile is.

One study showed that a whiter smile led to more job offers, higher salaries, and even a better chance of getting asked on a second date. If you’re shy about your smile for any reason, talk to your dentist about all the ways that improving your oral health can improve the rest of your life, too.

If you have any health problems that you haven’t shared with your dentist, make an appointment at Walker & Barr, DMD today. Don’t wait to get your oral health and total body health on the right track.


The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Posted in Blog, Dental Health

Local Anesthetic – Is it Safe?

If you get to go on a tropical vacation, your ability to feel the warm sun and the smooth sand is crucial to enjoying the atmosphere. There are, however, times in life when you would rather not feel anything. Getting a dental procedure can be one of those times—as important as the procedure might be. In that case, thank goodness for modern medicine and anesthesia.

Ancient dentists used a number of herbs and drugs to numb their patients. Thankfully, today, you have the option of completely safe and effective anesthesia. Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr share more below about what anesthesia is and when you might need it.

What is Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is a type of medicine best known for dulling pain. The root-word “an” means without and “aesthesis” means feeling. Anesthesia literally means “without feeling.” That perfectly describes how most people want to feel if they need to get a cavity filled or a tooth pulled. Anesthesia can also help you feel relaxed during your treatment and ease your pain afterward. Read more ›

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An Alkaline Diet for Oral Health

Acids and bases might sound like something from far back in your memory, like middle-school science class, but the concept is still very applicable to every aspect of life today.

The foods and beverages you consume daily have a very big effect on your oral health and overall health, for better or worse. You can protect and support your health by eating the right foods. We know this isn’t news to anyone, but it’s much easier said than done, right?

Brandon dentists Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr explain below how an alkaline diet can benefit your oral health and overall health.

What is an Alkaline Diet?

Everything around us is made of chemicals that are either some level of acidic or basic (alkaline). Chemicals are numbered on the pH scale from 0-6 as acidic, 7 as neutral, and 8-14 as alkaline and more people are talking these days about the negative effects of diets high in acidity. A minimally acidic—or alkaline—diet will contain mostly foods with a pH above 7. Read more ›

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Can Poor Oral Health Cause Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic and complicated disease that affects how your body processes sugar—its main source of energy. Diabetes symptoms mostly affect your heart, eyes, nerves, and kidneys, but it can affect your whole body, including your mouth.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and almost 2 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Managing your blood sugar is very important if you have diabetes and will help keep symptoms at bay. Taking good care of your oral wellness is actually one key to managing blood sugar. Read more ›

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