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Preparing Your Children for The Dental Dangers of Halloween

When it comes to Halloween candy, there’s a common joke that parents proclaim they need to “Take a look at your candy to see if it’s safe” for a much different reason. Because they want to get first pick on some of the best goodies.

Many times, patients assume that dentists hate Halloween. But the truth is that hate is a very strong word. Our dentists serving Garden Grove and the Anaheim area surely aren’t “anti-fun” and Halloween can be seriously spooky fun. With that said – even candy from time to time is acceptable – as long as you’re responsible and careful about it. Unfortunately, many kids just don’t know how to be “responsible” with their sugar intake yet. This is why taking a “first look” at your child’s candy can be much more than just a way to score a few great pieces. In fact, first and foremost – taking a look at your child’s candy to pick out any problem pieces should be one of the first things you do this Halloween. Naturally, the second thing can be eating some of that candy – but do be careful about sticky sweets, and definitely, don’t forget to brush your teeth.

What candy should you look out for?

Hard Candy: It’s no myth when your dentist tells you that chewy candies can wreak havoc on your teeth. This is true for a couple reasons. The first one is that they’re generally enjoyed slowly. Because you suck on hard candy for a long period of time, your teeth are exposed to sugar for a long period of time. On top of this, the fact that their hard can also damage your teeth.

Sour Candy: You might not realize it but the thing about sour candy (and citrus) candy is that it doesn’t just contain a lot of sugar – but it also contains additional acid. Both of these substances can and will actively contribute to decay and cavities.

Chewy Candy: Chewy candy is a tough one – not because it’s actually tough but because it’s sticky. Even after you’ve eaten it, it can stick around for hours creating “hot spots” of sugar and acid on your teeth. Gone un-brushed – it’s no surprise that these spots on your teeth will be much more prone to cavities.

Are your children experiencing toothaches? It could be a cavity. Don’t wait to get dental pain checked out. The sooner a cavity’s treated – the easier (and cheaper too). To learn more, contact our team of pediatric dentists in Garden Grove today. 

Are Sugar Substitutes Just as Bad as Sugar?

choose-tap-water-february-national-childens-dental-monthHave you ever been pouring a packet of stevia or artificial sweetener into your coffee or tea, only to wonder if those awfully sugar-like crystals could be impacting your teeth in the same way that sugar goes?

You’re not alone. There are plenty of theories out there about artificial sweeteners, from the assertion that they actually contribute to weight gain to (unverified) rumors that they can lead to some pretty scary problems – one thing dentists (like ours in Garden Grove) can say for certain is that these artificial sweeteners surely don’t affect teeth in the same way that regular sugar does.

First of all, it’s worth noting that sugar itself isn’t responsible for decays and cavities. Actually, it’s the acids that the bacterias in your mouth extract out of sugar (which can also be found in many other compounds) that contribute to enamel decay, cavities, and – ultimately – worse. Unlike sugar, sugar substitutes tend to not provide bacteria with this essential “nutrient”.

In a New York Times report, we also learn that the news is even better. Not only can artificial sweeteners help you cut down on calories – but some of them (polyols specifically) even have some anti-microbial properties to help your mouth actually fight against bad bacteria.

Knowledge such as this has encouraged dentists in Garden Grove and around the world to begin going so far as to actually recommend that patients chew gum with sugar alternatives in it to deliver benefits ranging from increased saliva flow to the presence of valuable antimicrobials that could help contribute to a more healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth.

Could sugar be undermining your teeth? Our dentists in Garden Grove are here to help. Contact us today to learn how you might be able to bounce back from a lifetime of too many sweets and too little brushing. 

 

Got a Chipped Tooth? Don’t Delay With Treatment (or It Could be Trouble)

Every once in a while, our dentists in Downey, California get a question about chipped teeth.  So first, let us get one thing out of the way: chipping a tooth can be a scary ordeal. First, you have the telltale “crack” or “crunch” that occurs when you either bite into something you really wish you hadn’t – or run into something you also really wish you hadn’t. But the good news is that chipped teeth aren’t always a terrible thing.

Sure, you’d much rather not get a chipped tooth – but sometimes they’re easy and (relatively) inexpensive for our dentists to fix. Other times they need quick dental attention in order to prevent them from becoming a more major problem. If you take one thing away from this blog post, let it be this: the safest bet is always to get in touch with your dentist to ensure that there isn’t any serious risk.

Minor Chips

A minor chipped tooth is something that our dentists see quite a bit of. Whether you bit through something too hard or chipped your tooth biting your nails, these chips are often not a major problem and can often be treated with simple dental bonding or a basic filling.

More Severe Chips

More severe dental chips will often require more serious treatment. In these cases, if the chip is particularly deep, there’s a chance that your dentist will need to use a dental crown to protect the tooth and ensure there’s no further damage.  This is also to ensure that bacteria doesn’t make its way deeper into your tooth. This can sometimes take two separate appointments.

The problem with damaged enamel

While you can often get by not worrying too much about a minor chipped tooth, the reason you should be sure to contact your dentist is that damaged enamel can eventually become a safe haven for tooth decay to establish itself and become a problem. Once this happens, decay can work its way through the enamel, into the dentin, and even to the root of your tooth – which can eventually lead to the need for root canal treatment to prevent loss of the tooth and even more serious problems.

Have you recently chipped a tooth? Our dentists in Downey, California have helped countless patients fix chipped teeth and prevent them from becoming a problem. For emergency help, we’re available!

Sip all Day, Get Decay (and How to Avoid It)

If you’ve ever read our blog before, you don’t need to be told that dental decay isn’t something you want to be contending with. In fact, if you’re a regular reader you understand very well that dental decay is the beginning of virtually any dental problem.

If you’re not a regular reader, you may not understand that tooth decay is the earliest sign of the destruction of your tooth enamel. Your tooth enamel is the hard outer coating your teeth rely on for protection against plaque and bacteria.

Unfortunately, a large source of plaque and bacteria is often the foods and drink you’re putting in your mouth – especially if there’s too much sugar in your diet. On top of that, because plaque is sticky – it can often cause the acid in fruit juices and sodas to stick to your teeth and do more damage – which leads to problems like cavities, infection, root canal treatment and – even further down the road – tooth loss.

So, the American Dental Association highly recommends you avoid “sipping” all day – which (unless you’re drinking water) is a good way to effectively bathe your teeth in sugars and acids.

But what can you do to actually protect yourself? Well, outside of only drinking water – one major step you can take is to drink out of a straw whenever possible. If you find that your teeth are susceptible to staining, decay, and cavities it might be worth considering how often you bathe them with sugars and acids from regular, everyday drinks like coffee, orange juice, and soft drinks. So, if you can’t give up your daily soda – at least drink it from a straw.

In addition to drinking out of a straw, there’s also something else you’d do well to keep in mind. Did we mention water? That’s right – more water is never something our dentists in Downey, California would advise against.

Bonus Tip: Having a hard time cutting the acidity and sugar out of your diet, but water is just too boring? Try this bonus tip: infuse your water instead. Add fruits like strawberries or vegetables like cucumbers to give some extra flavor to your water.

Alcoholic Drinks to avoid for Better Teeth

As spring slowly bleeds into summer, the heat begins to increase – as does our thirst. If you happen to responsibly enjoy the occasional “adult” beverage, you might sometimes wonder which drinks tend to contain the most calories in order to try and avoid unnecessary weight gain. However, have you wondered what your favorite drink might be doing to your teeth?

Every year, dentists across the country and in our Downey, California dental practice encounter patients experiencing decay, enamel breakdown, and cavities. Fortunately, all of these problems are completely unavoidable – but if you experience them, you probably wonder what their root cause may be. If you regularly drink some of the libations below – you might have your answer.

A Whisky and Cola 

Combine the carbonation and sugar of cola with the acidity of whiskey, and you have a drink that surely won’t help any surface-level staining you may experience with your teeth. On top of that, both drinks are dark  – which doesn’t help any further.

Breakfast Cocktails – Like Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas

When it comes to pretty much anything that you drink as a “hangover cure” you can pretty much count on two things: the hangover won’t really go away, and it surely won’t be good for your teeth. Mimosas are often made with cheap orange juice high in acid. Meanwhile, Bloody Mary’s are often combined with a number of spicy and highly acidic add-ons – which are also a big problem for your teeth.

Vodka and Cranberry

This is one drink that many people choose because they think it’s relatively low cal, and the cranberry juice has a great knack for masking the taste of vodka. Unfortunately, don’t let the fact that they call cranberry juice “fruit juice” fool you. Not only is it loaded with compounds that can contribute to staining, but it also has more sugar than a can of soda. Diet cranberry juice tends to have fewer sugars and carbs, and can be much better for your teeth – if that’s what you’re getting.

Have a question for our dentists about the care of your teeth? Noticing something wrong? We’re here to help. Contact one of our dedicated dentists in Downey, CA for the answers you need for healthier, whiter, and longer lasting teeth. 

Stay Cool and Keep Your Teeth With These Dental Tips for Aquaholics

If you live in Southern California – there’s a great chance you’re a big fan of the water. From surfing and paddleboarding to swimming and kitesurfing, there’s plenty to do on the water – and it’s something we should never take for granted.

You know something else you shouldn’t take for granted? Your Teeth.

If you read the other day you might have learned that swimming in a pool that’s been treated with chemicals – while safer for the rest of your body, can also tend to contribute to the acceleration of damage. With that in mind, if you’re someone who truly enjoys the water – our Long Beach area dentists caution you to be mindful.

But it’s not just the chemicals of the swimming pool that can damage your teeth if you spend a lot of time in the pool, there are also other reasons you should remain mindful.  So, we’ve put together a list of a few of the lurking dangers you might encounter when it comes time to cool off this summer.

Scuba: Be Wary of Pressure

You might not have heard of it, but there is a condition known as Barodontalgia otherwise known in the diving world as “tooth squeeze”. To put it simply, it’s caused by the drastically change in air-pressure that you’ll experience as you get deeper and deeper. If you have perfectly healthy teeth you might not need to worry about it, but if you have gum disease, failing restorations, infections, decay, or abscesses — the pressure can lead to problems. If you experience a strange pressure or pain while diving, do be sure to see your dentist as soon as possible.

The Pool Deck: Walk, Don’t Run (Or it could cost you)

It may sound silly, but you’d be surprised to learn that a great many dental injuries in the summer happen on the pool deck when we begin to move faster than we should be on slippery surfaces. From cracks, chips, and fractures to fully avulsed teeth – concrete and your mouth don’t mix well.

 Have questions about your teeth? Summer’s an incredible time to let loose, stay cool, and have fun – but don’t let that obscure how important it is to keep track of your health, and that includes your dental health. 

Are You a Swimmer? Don’t Forget to Watch Your Teeth!

As the weather gets warmer across the country, you might not realize it but the presence of threats to your teeth begin to multiply. It’s nothing to be particularly alarmed about, but remaining vigilant is always a good idea.

Unfortunately, some of the summer dental dangers that you might not expect to look out for happen to exist where you least expect them – like when you jump into the pool to cool off.

If you consider yourself an avid swimmer – you may want to read on.  With some helpful hints from your dentists in Downey, California – protecting your teeth and keeping informed is simple.

Swimming: Do you Swim Laps? Make Sure You Watch Your Teeth

If you tend to spend a lot of time in the pool (swimming laps, perhaps) your teeth may begin to develop a bit of yellowing that can sometimes require professional, in-office cleaning to take care of. This is known as swimmer’s calculus and is caused by the chemicals that are used to treat water in many pools. If you swim in a natural pool or a saltwater pool – you may not have to worry about this.

To help eliminate problems caused by swimmers calculus and to protect your teeth from damage for years to come, we often recommend patients use an electronic toothbrush and whitening toothpaste to reduce the damage and minimize staining. However, if you are a  swimmer – it’s important to remember that you should consult with your dentist before you begin to make any changes when it comes to your oral hygiene routine. If the enamel in your teeth has been weakened by the chemicals in poolwater, it might not be tough enough to withstand the vigorous cleaning power of more abrasive toothpaste.

This is why it’s always a good idea to see your dentist regularly and make sure you’re not doing more harm to your teeth than you may realize.

 

Are you storing your toothbrush correctly?

Think about your toothbrush right now. Sitting, lonely – in a dark bathroom. Did you put it away wet? Did it get dipped in a puddle of invisible bacteria? Did you give it the quick *TAP TAP TAP* to flick off the water and…hopefully…make it a bit more sanitary?

Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. But a very simple and effective tip for better, healthier teeth is to make sure that you’re keeping the bacteria in your mouth in check. Making sure that you’re not adding an unnecessary bacteria is one great way to do that.

Think about it this way. It doesn’t take very long to brush your teeth – maybe a couple minutes. But our Downey, California dental office recommends you go the extra mile for your teeth by going the extra mile with your toothbrush.

That means storing your toothbrush the right way. After you finish brushing, rinse your tootbrush with hot water. Then, make sure you store it in the upright position (so that it can dry off). It can also help to make sure you store it somewhere out of the way – like inside of a cupboard, or under the sink (just not out in the open).

If you’re taking care of your brush and storing it properly, it will also probably last longer. But you have to make sure that you don’t keep it for too long. You should be changing your toothbrush, roughly, every 3 months. Think about it – you use it multiple times a day to clean bacteria out of your mouth. You don’t want to use the same one for too long. The same can be said for electronic toothbrushes.

Working Out: Good for Your Body, But What About Your Teeth?

Everyone knows that keeping your body fit is a great way to prolong your life. But what about your teeth?

Studies have shown that regular exercise can have a marked impact on your teeth. But you might not realize that the effects can be both positive and negative – so, it’s best to understand what to look out for and how to take the best care of your teeth.

In 2005, a dental study found that regular exercise helped to actively prevent gum disease (periodontitis) – which often starts with inflammation and can progress to rapidly deteriorating gums and dental health. That study demonstrated that participants who both never smoke and excercise regularly are over 50% less likely to face periodontitis. Even if you’re not a fitness fanatic, exercising just a few times a week can lower your risk by 33%.  On top of this, it was also proven that a healthier BMI also tends to influence better, longer lasting oral health as well. In the study, those that maintained a healthy body-mass index by participating in regular exercise also were less likely to experience gum disease.

While our dentists in Downey, California are usually most concerned with making sure our patients are following a good oral hygiene routine – it can’t hurt to make sure you’re also staying physically fit. The benefits may not stop at your waistline and confidence.

The Other Side of the Story: Exercising Can Also Put Your Teeth At Risk 

Now, this isn’t a reason not to work out or stay fit but it’s something to remember. Many serious athletes, despite benefitting from many of the factors mentioned above also tend to experience more cavities. In fact, during the 2012 Summer Olympics, doctors noticed a high rate of enamel erosion and tooth decay in elite athletes. This could come from a number of reasons ranging from a much higher rate of breathing through the mouth (instead of the nose) which can leave the mouth dry, as well as other factors – like exposure to chlorine (for swimmers) or the frequent use of mouthguards, which can often trap bacteria and sugars.

It’s also worth remembering that water is always the best choice, rather than sugary sports and energy drinks – which can provide decay-causing bacteria a much-needed meal when it comes to working away at your teeth and creating cavities.

 

Loose Teeth and Bleeding Gums: What’s Happening, and What to Do

The preservation of your teeth is equal parts preparation and observation. Preparation, of course – is preparing your teeth for a lifetime of abuse, because that’s all they’re going to see, constant abuse from everything you eat and all of the side effects of aging. But the good thing is that your teeth are designed to be able to withstand the abuse, they just have a much easier time if you’re there to help them along the way.

In our last post, we discussed how a frequently dry mouth could be a signal of potential problems elsewhere in your body (or an interaction with your medication). Today, the symptom we’d like to raise awareness of is bleeding gums, and potentially loose teeth – both symptoms our dentists in Downey, California see quite frequently.

Suffering teeth and gums are often associated with chronic problems elsewhere in your body like cognitive decline, dementia, heart disease, and diabetes. Many times when certain symptoms are combined with poor oral health, it can be much easier for your doctor to support a diagnosis for a pretty serious problem. While bleeding gums here or there don’t necessarily mean that you have one of these conditions – if it’s chronic, and you’re beginning to notice a longer list of symptoms, it might be a good hint to give your doctor a call.

If it’s not chronic and you’re just wondering why your gums are bleeding – there’s a much greater chance that you just need to stop and think about how thorough you’re being when you brush your teeth and floss. Bleeding from your gums is often a telltale sign of inflammation and the early signs of gum disease. If left unchecked, this can often lead to more serious problems.

Have a question about your teeth and live in Downey, California – our dental team is happy to help!