I decided to write this letter to help anyone that dreads going to the dentist as much as I did.

For a quick background on me, I spent the better part of my life trying to avoid the dentist as much as humanly possible. Simply put, unless my teeth were practically falling out, you wouldn’t catch me dead in a waiting room. For me it all traces back to a few bad memories that were powerful enough to keep me away, despite my less than perfect smile.

Fast forward to a few years ago and I can happily say that all of my opinions about the dentist have changed, ultimately inspiring me to share my story with those of you who may be going through something similar. If that sounds like you, I encourage you to read on to learn how Inland Family Dentistry changed the way I feel about going to the dentist and how they can do the same for you.

My negative memories and associations about the dentist stemmed from a dentist appointment I went to in my youth. The dentist that my parents took me to see wasn’t friendly and had fingers like sausage links. He wasn’t careful when examining my mouth making me dread every appointment. After a few visits I refused to keep going and my parents never pushed me on why, and they certainly never forced me go.

Fast forward to college, and I was still harboring my reluctance about the dentist which had only become worse after so many years. To supplement my lack of regular checkups, I adopted an aggressive dental hygiene routine that I figured would prevent any problems from occurring. I was wrong. I started to experience some mild dental discomfort and the longer it went the more I realized it was going to require treatment. I scheduled an appointment with a doctor that my parents knew and figured everything would be just fine.

Already skeptical of the appointment and dentists in general I wasn’t relaxed entering the office. After the hygienist did her cleaning the dentist came in to do his exam. After his inspection he looked at my teeth and the first comment out of his mouth was to ask if I’d ever considered braces. Not knowing where the conversation was going, I responded that I hadn’t considered braces and asked if my orthodontic issues were going to cause dental issues down the road. His flippant remark was that no it wouldn’t cause dental issues but my teeth weren’t very attractive. In that split second he lost me. I was already self-conscious about my teeth and his unwanted commentary wasn’t appreciated. I left the office and once again found myself with another reason to avoid the dentist.

With another terrible dental experience behind me, I was convinced I would never go back again and would simply focus harder on making sure my dental hygiene was perfect all the time. For years, everything seemed to be smooth sailing after I graduated college and began working full time. My teeth still weren’t perfect but that didn’t bother me. When I got married my wife insisted that I go to see a dentist. I’d had some minor dental issues, and she wasn’t taking no for an answer. When I approached friends for a recommendation, there was a consensus that Inland Family Dentistry was the place to go. My online search showed me what I needed to see. Everything from the pictures of the office to the positive things people were saying helped to ease some of my hesitation and ultimately urged me to set the appointment.

My first visit to Inland Family Dentistry was a pleasant surprise as I was immediately greeted by friendly staff members upon entering the waiting area. Their genuine interest in the reason for my visit and even just the atmosphere of the office as a whole was very welcoming and comforting. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the exam chair with Dr. Goyer and going over my dental history like I was talking to an old friend.

Dr. Goyer’s willingness to listen and evident passion for what she did allowed her to identify that my negative feelings were actually what’s commonly known as dental fear. I realized how common it can be for individual, and was frankly relieved to be in an office that approaches it carefully. From there, Dr. Goyer further explained that the first appointment is a “meet and greet” of sorts where they really just take the time to learn about each patient and develop a plan of action together. This whole experience was new to me and made me realize that I didn’t need to fear the dentist anymore.

On the next visit, I had my regular cleaning, w-rays, and exam. They identified a cavity that needed to be treated, and I didn’t even hesitate to schedule the filling. With my dental fear long gone (thanks Dr. G!), I’m now happy to visit Inland Family Dentistry every six months for a routine checkup.

Moral of the story, don’t let dental fear rule your life like I did. If you’re like me, know that there is a team who understands your fear and approaches your dental treatment in the manner that best fits you – no cookie cutter stuff from this staff. If it wasn’t for the wonderful, caring team at Inland Family Dentistry, I don’t think I ever would have overcome my fear, let alone be visiting the dentist twice a year!

Scheduling semi-annual checkup appointments is a great way to ensure your dental health is in check, but sometimes symptoms arise that require more immediate attention. In this article, we’re going to talk about the common oral health signs that indicate it’s time for a checkup.

1. Visible Tartar Buildup

Have you started to notice some unsightly whitish buildup around your gums that you can’t seem to get rid of? What you’re seeing is known as tartar. Forming when plaque is left on your teeth long enough to interact with the bacteria in your mouth and mineralize, tartar is most commonly found along the gumline at the base of the teeth. This usually occurs because of poor dental hygiene habits, or the lack of brushing around your gums due to sensitivity.

Once formed, tartar is extremely difficult to get rid of at home, generally requiring a dentist to effectively and safely remove the buildup. Aside from making you self-conscious about smiling, tartar can also cause gingivitis. If left untreated for a long enough period of time, gingivitis eventually can develop into periodontal disease, a much more serious problem.

2. You Experience Toothache

A toothaches can represent a number of different problems with your oral health. Teeth are incredibly strong and durable, which is why when you have a toothache, it’s your body’s way of saying that something is wrong and requires attention. These bothersome pains can be caused by problems such as a cavity, cracked tooth, infected gums, a damaged filling, or even something more serious.

At the first sign of a toothache, it’s best to take action and schedule a checkup right away. Though it can be easy to brush off if the ache is hardly noticeable, having your dentist take a look is the best way to prevent the problem from becoming worse. When left untreated, toothaches can cause irreversible damage like tooth decay, cavities, abscesses, and in the most extreme cases can result in tooth loss.

3. Chronic Bad Breath

Bad breath. Though this is something that everyone experiences at one point or another, chronic bad breath is a sign for various health problems. So long as you’re in good health and you’re not on any medications that may cause bad breath as a side effect, you can generally rule out other health issues and assume it’s stemming from an oral problem. Either way, a quick visit to the dentist will help you determine the root of the problem.

Caused when leftover food particles are broken down by the bacteria present in your mouth, bad breath is the product of unpleasant odors released during these reactions. Even when you brush and floss regularly, if you still experience bad breath, it’s a sign that you’re ready for a checkup so your dentist can check for any infections and give you a professional cleaning.

4. Bleeding Gums

Typically pink in color, the gums serve an important role in the mouth by helping it stay clean and by keeping your teeth protected. Anytime you experience bleeding or chronically inflamed gums, it’s a red flag that something isn’t right with your oral health. Even if they only bleed when you brush or floss, inflamed gums that are swollen and bright red are the body’s way of communicating that something isn’t right.

As one of the number one periodontal disease symptoms, it’s good practice to schedule a checkup at the first sign of bleeding or inflamed gums so your dentist can begin to rule out certain causes. When you put it off and just wait for them to get better, you run the risk of developing periodontal disease which is much more complex to deal with.

5. Sensitivity to Hot and Cold Temperatures

When you want to enjoy a cup of iced coffee in the morning or a hot slice of pizza for dinner, you shouldn’t have to worry about oral pain. This is most commonly caused by weakened enamel which makes your teeth more susceptible to damaging acids, or a cavity which is caused when tooth decay sets in. No matter how subtle or severe, if you have pain when you consume hot or cold food and beverages, it’s a sign that there’s something wrong.

Because these signs aren’t something that you can diagnose and treat yourself, we recommend scheduling a dental checkup for treatment as the best course of action. This is especially true because both worn down enamel and cavities can lead to permanent damage.