Desert Smiles Blog

Glendale Dentist Serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, Peoria, and nearby areas in Arizona

September 02nd, 2018

Dr. Chip Whitney who is double board certified in Family Medicine is a leading advocate of closing the "oral-systemic gap" between dentistry and medicine.  He states "Gum bleeding usually seen as blood in the sink, is a sign of oral inflammation or infection.  This creates an open door to the flow of bacteria from the mouth into the bloodstream and spraying everywhere.  Whereever those bacteria land, they have the potential to elicit the same inflammatory reaction that they do in the mouth in those distal organs like the pancreas, uterus, brain and arteries.  As a champion of preventive medicine, Dr. Whitney sees great effectiveness in the Perio Protect Method of treating gum disease.  Dr Whitney again states, "I have seen countless patients significantly improve their blood tests simply by improving their oral health, thus lowering their risk of heart attack and stroke.  For more information on how you can enjoy better oral and systemic health, visit with our professional hygiene staff about Perio Protect.  For more information visit, including information about oral preventive services in our Glendale dental office.

August 21st, 2018

Dental phobia is a serious condition that impacts an unknown number of adults in the United States. Marked by anxiety or fear relating to dental care, this type of phobia can result in serious oral health issues including gum disease and tooth loss. Oral health problems like gum disease may pose systemic health problems as well, increasing risks for heart attack and stroke, kidney and liver failure, pancreatic and breast cancers, and dementia. If it has been longer than six months since your last visit to the dentist, call 602-978-1790 to schedule your appointment today.

Are you afraid of the dentist? Dr. Wilcox is a member of DOCS and has undergone extensive training in sedation dentistry. Give us a call to schedule a consultation and learn more about the sedation options we offer and how they may be able to help you find complete comfort and ease while in our care.

August 07th, 2018

Charcoal Teeth Whitening | Glendale Tooth WhiteningCharcoal teeth whitening is a growing beauty trend. Long touted by some alternative medicine and natural living bloggers as a way to remove “toxins” from the mouth, beauty vloggers and YouTube celebrities have taken up the torch and begun promoting activated charcoal as a miracle tooth whitening solution. But is it?

With nothing more than a toothbrush and some activated charcoal powder, you can remove surface stains from your teeth over the course of just a few days. The process, while somewhat cumbersome, is not prohibitive, requiring only that you brush, gently and continually, for two to five minutes daily until you have achieved your desired level of whiteness. However, while activated charcoal does in fact work to remove surface stains, here are two things to keep in mind about its efficacy:

  • Activated charcoal only works on surface stains, like those caused by coffee, tea, and sports drinks
  • Prolonged use of activated charcoal can remove tooth enamel, exposing the underlying dentin and causing a permanent yellowing of your teeth

If you have deep stains, such as those caused by tetracycline or fluorosis, or if your staining is the result of aging, activated charcoal, like any topical whitener, will likely enhance the discoloration. Because activated charcoal can only remove topical stains, those deeper stains will be accentuated when surrounding tooth structure is lightened.

The best way to avoid unforeseen consequences of tooth whitening is to talk with a cosmetic dentist about professional options that work to lighten even the deepest of stains - along with alternative options, like porcelain veneers, that can be used to address stains that will not respond to topical whiteners.

How Abrasive is Activated Charcoal?

Unlike baking soda or similarly abrasive ingredients used in toothpaste, charcoal does not remove stains by buffing them off. Instead, charcoal binds to the stains and lifts them from teeth. In the process, however, the abrasiveness of charcoal also serves to remove tooth enamel, increasing the risks of dingy and yellowed teeth.

According to the American Dental Association, there is not enough information about activated charcoal for there to be an official stance on its safety and efficacy as a tooth whitener.

However, in one study cited by the ADA it was found that using a mixture of activated charcoal and table salt was, “...not only ineffective (the teeth had a yellow cast, which the authors attributed to removal of the enamel during the brushing, revealing the dentin underneath), [they] also documented concave cavities on the labial surfaces of the anterior teeth following use.”

Increased risks for cavities? Enhanced discoloration? Activated charcoal begins to sound less and less like an alternative to tooth whitening and more and more like a fast-track to oral health and beauty issues.

Stick With the Professionals

The truth is, it is always best to work with a cosmetic dentist when you are whitening your teeth and Phoenix cosmetic dentist Dr. Donald Wilcox offers a comprehensive selection of teeth whitening services, including topical bleaches, dental bonding, and porcelain veneers, enabling him to address even the most severe tooth staining. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, we welcome an opportunity to meet with you and discuss your concerns, and to help you find the best solution for your needs.

Call Desert Smiles at 602-978-1790 to schedule a consultation and learn more. Located in Glendale, Dr. Wilcox serves Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, and all surrounding areas of Arizona.

July 30th, 2018

Do I Need to Replace Old Silver Fillings?This may come as a surprise, but metal dental fillings are not designed to last for a lifetime. The amalgam used for these types of fillings is sensitive to temperature changes in the mouth, allowing it to expand and contract with heat and cold. This can result in one of two eventualities: the filling comes loose and falls out or the filling expands to such an extent that it cracks or breaks surrounding enamel.

You can help prevent a silver filling from damaging your teeth by knowing when it needs to be replaced. Every 10 to 15 years is a safe bet. However, assuming you’re not keeping track of the years by way of dental fillings, here are five additional ways to tell if it’s time to talk to Dr. Wilcox about replacing one:

  1. Increased tooth sensitivity in a tooth with a filling
  2. Sharp or throbbing pain in or around a tooth with a filling
  3. Dark holes or spots on or around a filling
  4. Enamel around a filling feels rough or sharp, even after brushing teeth
  5. Cracks have begun to form on the surface of a tooth with a filling

Tooth pain should never be ignored. If you are experiencing tooth pain, it is important that you contact us right away for an examination. When caught early on, most oral health issues can be treated quickly.

We offer safe, nontoxic, aesthetically pleasing tooth-colored fillings at our Glendale office. Bonded to teeth, these fillings do not come loose or fall out and, while not permanent, porcelain fillings may last for up to 30 years - that’s two to three-times the life-expectancy of metal fillings. This alone has prompted some of our patients to replace older silver fillings even before they fail.

If you believe you have a filling that needs to be replaced or if you are interested in learning more about replacing metal fillings with a tooth-colored alternative, please call 602-978-1790 to schedule an appointment at Desert Smiles today. Located in Glendale, we welcome patients from Mesa, Chandler, Peoria, and all surrounding areas.

July 16th, 2018

Glendale Conscious Oral Sedation | Desert SmilesThe sedation options offered at the Glendale office of Dr. Donald Wilcox have a long history of safe and effective use. A member of the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation, Dr. Wilcox has trained extensively in the art and science of producing optimal patient comfort through sedation dentistry - a service that can be provided before any of your treatments at Desert Smiles.

Some patients choose dental sedation only when they are in need of more involved treatments. Others opt for the service to treat discomforts unrelated to the treatment itself. Issues like an overactive gag reflex, highly sensitive teeth, and TMJ may necessitate sedation for routine services such as cleanings and examinations. Dr. Wilcox will take time to understand your needs and listen carefully to your concerns to help you determine when and if sedation may be useful for you.

Conscious Oral Sedation

Dr. Wilcox offers conscious oral sedation, a trusted and effective sedation dentistry option that does not come with the same risks as deeper, IV sedation. With this option, medication is administered in pill form before your appointment. Once the medication has started to work, you will feel completely relaxed and perhaps even slightly euphoric, but you will still be able to respond to basic instructions - which is incredibly useful for things like spitting during routine cleanings - though you will likely have only limited memory of the procedure itself.

We have found that this method of sedation is incredibly effective, even for those working through previous dental trauma. During your initial consultation, Dr. Wilcox can discuss the medications used for dental sedation in greater detail to help you decide if conscious oral sedation is the best fit for your needs.

Routine Cleanings & Examinations

The cornerstone of a healthy and attractive smile is peak oral health - and that can only be obtained through a consistent oral hygiene routine.

Brushing your teeth after every meal and snack and flossing both morning and night will go a long way towards removing surface stains and preventing issues like decay, infection, and gum disease. However, without professional care, many issues that can pose long-term problems may remain unnoticed.

Biannual visits for professional cleanings and examinations serve multiple purposes, including removing all plaque and tartar from the teeth. These visits allow Dr. Wilcox to detect early warning signs of conditions as diverse as bruxism (tooth grinding) and cavities, and to provide swift treatment that can help prevent small problems from causing serious and lasting damage.

If you have avoided the dentist for fear of discomfort, maybe it’s time to reconsider. Give us a call at 602-978-1790 to schedule a consultation and learn more.

Desert Smiles is located in Glendale, Arizona. Our award-winning dentist welcomes patients from Phoenix, Chandler, Scottsdale, and all surrounding areas.

July 09th, 2018

Glendale Dentist | Celebrate National Ice Cream MonthJuly is National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of July, the 15th this year, is National Ice Cream Day. Both the day and the month were created through congressional resolution in 1984, which is a pretty big deal for ice cream.

There is no question that ice cream is a summertime favorite. Even without its own month, this cold treat becomes increasingly popular during the spring and summer, offering a refreshing escape on those days that top 100 in and around Glendale. But is it possible to enjoy ice cream and still maintain optimal oral health?

How to Protect Your Teeth

Let’s start with the good. Ice cream contains calcium, a mineral that is essential for healthy tooth enamel. Of course, ice cream is not the standard go-to calcium supplement, but it is a fairly delicious way to get 100 or so mg of the mineral that comprises 99% of the bones and teeth in your body. Ice cream also has a small amount of protein, potassium, and vitamins A and D.

While it would be irresponsible to claim ice cream has “health benefits,” it would be dishonest to suggest there is nothing healthy in the treat. However, none of the vitamins or minerals in ice cream will protect your teeth against the damage the treat’s sometimes alarming sugar content can do. That responsibility is yours alone.

Here’s the good news, you can eat ice cream AND maintain a strong and healthy smile. You just have to be smart about it. Here’s how:

  • Choose ice cream without candy and other add-ons
  • Brush your teeth within an hour of consuming ice cream
  • Floss within 12 hours of eating ice cream
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day

Taking time to brush and floss, and drinking several cups of water throughout the day will have a positive impact on your oral health regardless of your relationship to ice cream. These steps will also help reduce your risks of tooth discoloration, the development of gum disease, and issues such as halitosis that are often related to substandard oral hygiene routines. Be sure to visit our office every six months for cleanings and examinations as well. These visits are essential for a strong and healthy smile.

Glendale dentist Dr. Donald Wilcox offers a comprehensive range of general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services that can be used in various combinations to produce the smile of your dreams. If you are overdue for a visit to the dentist or if you are considering a smile makeover, he welcomes an opportunity to meet with you, learn about your needs, and help you determine the best course of treatment.

Please call Desert Smiles at 602-978-1790 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Wilcox. Located in Glendale, our award-winning dentist serves Scottsdale, Peoria, and all surrounding areas of Arizona.

June 14th, 2018

Men are nearly twice as likely as women to develop gum disease. Symptoms of this common oral health problem may include:

  • Red or swollen gum tissue
  • Gums that bleed easily when brushed
  • Chronic bad breath
  • A persistent bad taste in the mouth

When left untreated, gum disease may present symptoms including:

  • Loose teeth
  • Pus in between teeth
  • Gum tissue pulling away from teeth
  • Tooth loss

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important that you get in touch with Dr. Wilcox to schedule an examination. Left untreated, gum disease can have a profound impact on the health and life expectancy of males.

Men’s Health Month

Treating Gum Disease in Glendale, AZ

June is Men’s Health Month and a perfect time to consider the impact gum disease has on men in particular. Complications linked to untreated gum disease exceed tooth loss and potential jaw shrinkage to include increased risks for:

  • Heart attack and stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Esophageal and pancreatic cancer
  • Dementia

Gum disease is also linked to erectile dysfunction.

This June, take time to schedule a routine cleaning and examination at our Glendale office. During this appointment, Dr. Wilcox will carefully examine your gums for any signs of infection, allowing him to provide swift treatment when needed to help prevent more serious health issues from occurring.

To schedule your next appointment at Desert Smiles, please call 602-978-1790 today.

June 06th, 2018

Snoring is the most common and most frequently cited symptom of sleep apnea. People living with sleep apnea often snore, loudly, throughout the night - a major signifier of the disorder. Snoring is not, however, the only symptom of sleep apnea.
People who live alone or those with partners or roommates who do not seem to be bothered by snoring may never have their nocturnal noises brought to their attention. This makes it very important to know some of the less talked about symptoms of sleep apnea.

Glendale Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

With sleep apnea, breathing is obstructed by collapsed airways and soft tissue in the throat and mouth. This can create a complete cessation of breath, which is often followed by choking or gasping noises. This, in addition to snoring, is typically the focus when sleep apnea symptoms are discussed. But these symptoms may not be known by those who are experiencing them unless they are brought up by someone else.
Symptoms of sleep apnea that you may recognize without someone else’s observations include:

  • Frequent morning headaches
  • Waking most mornings with a dry mouth or a sore throat
  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • A sudden onset of anxiety or depression
  • Inexplicable mood swings

As a consequence of untreated sleep apnea, fatigue and energy loss may result in weight gain and other potential complications. When ignored for long periods of time, sleep apnea may increase risks for:

  • Hypertension
  • Heart attack and stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sexual dysfunction

If you are experiencing daytime symptoms of sleep apnea, it is a good idea to talk to a sleep doctor for proper testing and diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, Glendale dentist Dr. Donald Wilcox may be able to customize an oral appliance to help keep airways open and eliminate the symptoms of this disorder.

Steps to Reduce Sleep Apnea Risks

Smokers are three times as likely as nonsmokers to develop sleep apnea. Men and women who use narcotics and sedatives, including marijuana, or drink alcohol excessively (more than two drinks per day) are also at increased risk for sleep apnea. So too are individuals who are generally inactive and overweight. This makes obstructive sleep apnea a “lifestyle disorder” to at least some extent.
As a lifestyle disorder, lifestyle changes may be needed to truly eliminate the condition. These include:

  • Not smoking
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Not using narcotics or sedatives, including prescription
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Getting adequate exercise

Current physical activity guidelines for adults are 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise weekly and at least 60 minutes of daily activity. This can include walking, swimming, riding a bike, or anything else that gets a person up and moving. 
Commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle is just one aspect of sleep apnea treatment, but when combined with a customized oral appliance that can keep airways open, it is often possible to avoid more invasive and annoying CPAP options.
If you suspect you are suffering from sleep apnea, let Dr. Wilcox help. Call Desert Smiles at 602-978-1790 to schedule a consultation at our Glendale office to learn more.

Dr. Wilcox provides sleep apnea treatment to men and women living in Phoenix, Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, and all surrounding areas of Arizona.


May 24th, 2018

HiSmile is an at-home tooth whitening solution that claims it can lighten teeth up to eight-shades in just six short treatments. The HiSmile system is comprised of three syringes of whitening gel, a rubber application tray, and a LED light attachment. The whitening solution included in the kit is enough for six applications. Each application takes 10-minutes and the manufacturer suggests results can be seen in as little as two days.

The cost of HiSmile is $60. This includes everything you need, according to the manufacturer, to see remarkable results in just a few short days. Many in the dental community are, however, skeptical of these claims.

The whitening gel used with HiSmile does not contain hydrogen peroxide, leading some to wonder if the product is worth it. In a recent article published by Zwivel, our own Dr. Donald Wilcox chimed in on the issue by saying:

“Hydrogen peroxide is produced naturally by our bodies. Products using hydrogen peroxide for bleaching are proven over several decades to be effective and safe.”

Is HiSmile Worth It | Custom Tooth Bleaching, Glendale, AZThe long-term efficacy of HiSmile is as of yet unknown, prompting Dr. Wilcox to suggest that patients look to alternatives that have a standing history of success instead. “Opalescence Go is a product sold in dental offices consisting of stock trays that mold to the patient’s teeth. It is less costly than custom tray bleaching. Crest Whitestrips are effective for many patients, but not as easy to use as the stock or custom tray techniques,” Dr. Wilcox is quoted as saying in the above article.  Opalescence Go is one of the tooth whitening options available through our office.

Removing hydrogen peroxide from bleaching solution may help reduce some instances of tooth sensitivity, which is an attractive benefit of HiSmile. However, the same benefit can be obtained by simply adjusting the amount of hydrogen peroxide whitening solution placed into an application tray. This may take slightly longer than the six days promised by HiSmile, but it is a time-tested and reliably effective way of eliminating stain and discoloration from the surface of the teeth.

HiSmile, by contrast, has shown to be only about 50% effective according to the review on Zwivel. What’s more, after the initial six applications, there will be nothing left for touch-ups. Compare this to the tooth whitening solutions available through our office. From Dr. Wilcox:

“All teeth relapse color-wise over time. The beauty of having custom trays or home whitening alternatives is [in the ease] to touch up whenever you want.”

Proven effective, incredibly convenient, and complete with enough solution to keep teeth bright and stain-free for years, our professional tooth whitening options are ideal for men and women who demand reliable results. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please call Desert Smiles at 602-978-1790 to schedule a consultation right away. Located in Glendale, Dr. Wilcox provides professional tooth whitening solutions for people living in Peoria, Scottsdale, Phoenix, and all surrounding areas.

May 09th, 2018

1.  Who is a candidate for sedation dentistry?

  • Adults who suffer from severe dental fear and anxiety
  • Those who have had traumatic dental experiences and are afraid of having bad dental experiences again
  • People who have difficultly getting numb with local anesthetics
  • People with very sensitive teeth
  • People with busy lifestyles who need a lot of dentistry completed comfortably in one or two appointments
  • Adults who hate needles and shots
  • Adults who object to the noises, smells, and tastes associated with dental care
  • People who are afraid and embarrassed about their teeth and want a nice smile that looks professional and enhances their image.

2.  What is the medication normally used?

Our most commonly used sedative agent is Triazolam.  It is a sedative hypnotic pill in the same family as Valium.  It is the same medication that is prescribed hundreds of thousands of times a year by physicians as a very safe sleeping aid.  The drug enforcement agency has categorized it as a schedule IV substance, which means it is only one category higher than common aspirin.  In over one million dental sedations monitored by the DOCS organization, there has never been a severe emergency or death using this medication.

3.  What are contraindications to sedation dentistry?

  • Pregnancy
  • Nursing mothers
  • Acute narrow angle glaucoma
  • Allergy or sensitivity to benzodiazepine medications
  • Severe medical conditions
  • Significant respiratory problems like severe asthma or emphysema
  • Psychosis
  • Taking a medication called a MAO inhibitor
  • Alcoholics
  • We estimate that 90-95% of the adult population are good candidates for oral sedation dentistry.

4.  Any special restrictions prior to sedation dentistry?

We will go over preoperative instructions in detail when you are scheduling your visit.  The highlights are:

  • Nothing to eat or drink 8 hrs prior
  • Reduce caffeine for 12 hrs prior
  • No alcohol or narcotic drugs
  • Take prescription drugs as you normally would unless otherwise directed
  • No contact lenses
  • Wear light-weight comfortable clothing, preferably with short sleeves
  • It is absolutely essential that you have your escort drive you to your appointment and back home

5.  How much does sedation dentistry cost?

The fee is $225 per appointment for the sedation.

6.  Why use a pill and not an IV or general anesthetic?

We work with a dental anesthesiologist when necessary but we have found nearly 99% of the time it is not necessary for restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry.  Deep sedation and general anesthesia carry increased risks and costs.  Costs can be 5 to 10 times greater.  The pill we use is placed under the tongue where it dissolves and is absorbed very quickly.  Not only is it safer and less costly, but oral sedation fits easier into most people's schedule.

Contact our Scottsdale sedation dentist for more information on sedation dentistry and how we can provide you with a relaxing and comfortable dental visit. We happily help patients in ScottsdaleGlendalePhoenixPeoria and surrounding areas in Arizona.