The dental needs of your entire family are critical when selecting the right dentist. A dental professional who offers services to family members of all ages is really the best option. You can enjoy the benefits of one-stop convenience for yourself and your children with our Chapel Hill general dentist while ensuring that everyone’s oral health is being regularly monitored.

How Preventive Dentistry Help

The simple truth is that the key to optimum oral health is prevention. The types of services that family dentistry includes are those that address prevention as the first step in dental care. These include regular cleanings, sealants, fluoride treatments, routine x-rays, and other essential dental work. The American Dental Association suggests at least twice-yearly visits to your family dentist for checkups.

Twice-Yearly Dental Checkups

During your semi-annual visits with the Chapel Hill general dentist, you will receive a routine oral examination including an oral cancer screening and a professional dental cleaning. The professional cleaning is essential to get rid of stains and plaque buildup, which in turn prevents tooth decay and gum problems. Your dental team will provide recommendations for proper at-home brushing, flossing and rinsing to help reduce the buildup of plaque between regular appointments.

Benefits of Visiting a Family Dentist

Another significant benefit of seeing a family dentist is that they can effectively monitor the oral health of your family from early childhood into adulthood. This establishes a meaningful ongoing relationship with your family. Young children need to be introduced to dental care in a welcoming and comforting setting to develop a trusting relationship with dentists that will last into adulthood.

It is especially important to schedule regular appointments for checkups so that problems can be identified as early as possible before more extensive and costly dental work becomes necessary. Take the stress out of making and keeping your regularly scheduled appointments by selecting a general dentist who can see to all your oral health needs.


How Long do Dental Implants Last?

by Dr. Diane Hourigan

Dental implants are perhaps the most obvious way that dental science has made the biggest strides in recent years. Thanks to a simple surgery, those with gaps in their smile or teeth that are damaged beyond repair can undergo a simple surgery and walk out with dental implants that look and behave exactly like real teeth.


As your Chapel Hill dental implants dentist, Dr. Diane Hourigan fields a lot of questions about the permanence of these implants. They look and behave like real teeth, sure, but will complications arise somewhere down the road? Will the implant ever need to be replaced?


These are great questions that can only be answered by a professional. Thankfully, it’s a question Dr. Hourigan is qualified to answer.

Are Dental Implants Permanent?


The short answer is, “No,” but with proper care, the lifespan of a dental implant could be as long as 25 years or more. The trick, of course, is taking take care of them, just like it is for the remainder of your healthy, natural teeth.


The following are a few ways to extend the life of your dental implants to ensure you don’t have to replace them any sooner than necessary:


  1. Brush and floss every day, just as you would with normal teeth, and make sure you hold your biannual appointments with your dentist for routine cleanings. This is the single most important thing a patient can do to extend the life of their dental implants.
  2. Avoid chewing down on very hard items, especially if they aren’t food.
  3. Stay healthy in a general sense. There are links between general health and dental health, so living a healthy lifestyle is good for all your teeth and your dental implant.


Of course, having the procedure done by a professional with years of experience is another way to ensure the implants last longer. If they are installed skillfully in the first place, there is a better chance they’ll hold up over time. That’s why choosing Dr. Hourigan for this procedure is so important.


How to Know if An Implant Should Be Looked At


Inevitably, dental implants can get to a point where they need to be replaced. Dental implants have a 95 percent success rate, but that does leave room for certain complications. Dental implants are, by design, easy to remove and therefore easy to address these concerns, but we still suggest that patients watch out for certain things.


For example, it is possible to contract an infection near the implant area. An implant can get loose or fall out completely. A patient also may experience numbness around the area of the surgery, and in some rare cases, sinus problems can arise due to the location of the implant.


If any of these things occur or something just doesn’t feel right with an implant you’ve had done (by Dr. Hourigan or any other dentist), set up an appointment so we can get to the root of the problem and make any corrections to whatever is causing the issue with the implant.


Done well, dental implants cause no problems for the patient, and properly maintained, they can last as long as decades. They are not permanent solutions, but they last a very, very long time and help Dr. Hourigan’s patients enjoy more functional bites and fuller smiles.



We all know that sweets are bad for your teeth. But you may not be aware of why your mom and dentist always told you to avoid them and how these foods cause dental erosion and eventually cavities. The Chapel Hill general dentist explains:

How Cavities Form

Tooth enamel is made of minerals, and cavities are caused by a process known as demineralization. This occurs when the enamel on your tooth comes in contact with sweet foods and drinks. Waste products created by bacteria as it consumes these sugars contain the acids that cause demineralization. When these acids remain on the teeth they start producing tooth decay within minutes.

Most of us have experienced cavities, but left untreated over a long period of time, a simple cavity can result in the complete destruction of the tooth structure. With the increased consumption of soda, fruit juices and energy drinks, general dentists today see an increase in the number of patients with dental erosion. While sugar is the most common cause of dental erosion, some other causes are:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Consuming acidic foods and drinks
  • Dry mouth or low saliva production
  • Acid reflux disease (GERD), or heartburn.

Signs That a Cavity is Developing

If you experience sensitivity when eating hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks you may have dental erosion. Also, yellowing of the enamel indicates that it is thinning and exposing the yellow dentin beneath. Dental erosion can literally destroy your teeth over time if not addressed by your general dentist. If it reaches this point, tooth extraction and costly dental prosthetics may be necessary.

Please Call Us for an Appointment

Diligent oral hygiene habits and regular visits to your general dentist are the best defense against the destruction caused by dental erosion. Your Chapel Hill general dentist is trained to detect signs of dental erosion and take the necessary steps to arrest and reverse its damage.

Please call us to arrange a dental appointment so we can make sure your oral health is protected.