Do you brush and floss routinely, avoid sugary foods and drinks, and see your dentist for scheduled appointments but still get cavities? Do you have friends who don’t follow healthy oral habits and don’t deal with tooth decay and wonder if there’s any fairness left in the world?

Your Santa Monica family dentist understands your frustration! How is it possible to take care of your teeth and still get cavities? It turns out that your genes may be responsible.

It’s Not Just about Bacteria

Keeping your mouth free of harmful bacteria is essential if you want a healthy smile, but another significant factor is the resistance of your teeth. A recent study by two researchers from the University of Zurich shows a definite condition between defects in the gene complex that’s responsible for the formation of tooth enamel and the rate of caries (cavities).

What This Means for You

There’s a lot more study that needs to be conducted in this area to understand how these findings can change the way we approach oral health care. But whether or not your genetic makeup puts you at higher risk for tooth decay, there are always steps you can take:

  • Make sure your oral hygiene’s up to par – Brushing and flossing for decades does not make you an expert, and if you aren’t doing it properly, you may not be getting the benefit of your efforts. Talk to your hygienist to “brush up” on your oral hygiene for the best results.
  • Keep up with routine dental appointments – Prevention is the key to enjoying good oral health, making semi-annual exams and cleanings with your family dentist crucial. Decide if you’d rather take a couple hours out of your week now or wait until you need costly and complex treatment!
  • Pay attention to what you eat and drink – Certain foods, especially those high in sugar and acid, are very damaging and weaken dental enamel which can lead to cavities. 

Please Call to Arrange an Appointment

Your family dentist can offer you many helpful tips for keeping your smile healthy, regardless of genetics. If you would like to learn more, please call the Santa Monica family dentist to arrange a convenient appointment.



For the most part, people young and old are comfortable and confident during treatment with our Santa Monica dentist. However, for some patients dental anxiety is a real concern, and one that Carol E. Follett DDS takes seriously. If you’re someone who dreads the dentist’s chair, here’s some advice for reducing your dental anxiety.

What Is Dental Anxiety?

It’s estimated that 5% - 8% of Americans suffer from dental anxiety and avoid the dentist under any circumstances. Moreover, another 20% of people possess a lower level of dental anxiety that keeps them from seeking dental care unless it’s absolutely necessary.


Two main causes of dental anxiety have been identified. The biggest, and one that applies to roughly two-thirds of anxiety sufferers, is a bad experience in a dentist’s office. The second cause is related to clinical conditions like anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse. Across both causes, an overarching theme is the inability to control the situation due to being prone in the dentist’s chair, where it’s difficult to move or talk.

Ways To Reduce Dental Anxiety

There are a few ways to reduce dental anxiety, some of which are patient-specific and others that are dentist-related.


Many of the most effective solutions for dental anxiety pertain to communication techniques that a dentist will use to ease an anxious patient’s mind. For example:


  • Telling the patient they can leave at any time (seldom will a patient accept this offer, but many people like the fact that they’ve been given the choice)
  • “Narrating” the dental procedure, i.e. telling the patient what’s coming next, how it will feel, and how long it will last
  • Periodically asking the patient for permission to continue the procedure
  • Allowing the patient to pause the procedure if they start feeling uncomfortable. In some cases, the dentist and patient will agree to a cue, i.e. the patient raising his right hand when he wants to pause.
  • Making time for breaks at certain intervals of the procedure


From a patient’s perspective, there are some steps to be taken that can increase in-chair comfort and peace of mind. These include:

  • Asking a friend or relative to join at the first dental visit. This could mean having the person close by in the waiting room, or sitting in on the procedure.
  • Talk with the dentist about available/appropriate sedatives for the procedure to be conducted: local anesthetic, oral sedative, or nitrous oxide, depending on the dentist’s opinion
  • For many patients, listening to music on headphones brings added comfort - especially a new album that heightens interest level and takes the patient’s mind from the procedure
  • Relaxation techniques are beneficial: progressive muscle relaxation (which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups) and controlled breathing (helps to slow the heartbeat and relax the body) are two of the most popular


Visit Carol E. Follett DDS and Leave Your Worries Behind

If you’ve been searching online for a “dentist near me” who takes a de-stressing, patient-focused approach to dentistry, Carol E. Follett DDS is the ideal choice. We provide a comfortable, relaxed environment that helps patients feel good about the dental care they need.


Two key elements of effective oral health care are comprehensive dental exams and professional dental cleanings every six months. While most patients of the Santa Monica family dentist are aware of the importance of these appointments, but may not know exactly what is involved in a comprehensive dental exam and cleaning.

The following is a brief summary of the steps that we take during your six-month checkups.

Dental Exam

A comprehensive dental exam will be performed at your initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist will include the following:

  • Check for tooth decay: All tooth surfaces should be checked for decay or changes since the last visit.
  • Examine existing restorations: Check the condition of current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Gum disease evaluation: It is essential to check the gums and bone surrounding the teeth for signs of periodontal disease.
  • Diagnostic x-rays: This step is essential for detecting decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays will also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Your dentist should check your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.

Professional Dental Cleaning

Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) will be performed by your dentist or a skilled dental hygienist. Appointments for cleanings include:

  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky film that coats your teeth and is made up of bacteria, food debris, and saliva. If plaque isn’t removed with oral hygiene and professional dental cleanings, it continues to feed on the sugars in your mouth and produces acid that attacks dental and causes cavities.
  • Removal of calculus (tartar): When plaque remains on teeth, it hardens and forms a hard deposit known as tartar or calculus. Since tartar is calcified and adheres to the teeth above and below the gum line, it can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Teeth polishing: Polishing is the final step in the process of your professional cleaning and removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

Please Call Us for an Appointment

If it’s time for your next routine exam and cleaning, please call the Santa Monica family dentist to arrange an appointment.