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Dental Blog

Beware of These Common Foods That Damage Teeth!

Posted on Sep 03, 2015

Our teeth may be strong – in fact one of the strongest aspects on our body – but that does not prevent them from damage. And it doesn’t even need to be dramatic trauma either. All it takes is one wrong bite.

It helps a lot when you’re aware of the common culprits that are known to damage teeth. And that is what we’d like to educate you on today. We’ve had several patients come to us – usually in the form of a dental emergency – as a result of dental damage caused by foods.

When we say dental damage we aren’t just referring to broken teeth, but rather loose teeth, chipped teeth, fractures, lost fillings, lost crowns, etc.

Foods that are Likely to Damage Teeth

1. Crunchy Fruits & Vegetables

Apples and carrots we’ve personally noticed are the worst in this category. Corn on the cob is a bad culprit. All of these can crack fillings, ruin dental sealants, and will definitely damage any orthodontic appliances. Believe it or not, potato chips can also cause damage. Specifically kettle cooked, as they’re harder than most other kinds. You don’t have to stay away from fruits & vegetables altogether, but rather slice them into smaller pieces before consumption.

2. Ice

It’s very common to chew on ice after consuming a drink. While it’s a great alternative to many other sugary hard candies out there, it has a great potential to chip teeth and/or damage them even worse. It’s OK to suck on ice until it melts fully in your mouth; the only bad part is biting into it.

3. Anything Sticky

It’s mainly candy that is the issue here, but if it’s sticky – especially caramel – then you better be careful. These are well known for pulling fillings right out of the teeth. Sometimes you don’t even notice the filling is gone until it’s worsens into a severe toothache that often requires a root canal. Any type of taffy is also a common culprit. Be careful of these and take them slowly.

4. Popcorn

The real issue here is not the actual popped corn, but the un-popped kernels that break people’s teeth all of the time. The worst part is we usually eat popcorn during movies where we mindlessly consume.

5. Nuts

All types of nuts have the possibility to cause damage to your teeth. Nuts are a very beneficial source of nutrition for you so we still recommend eating them if the opportunity presents itself. However, just be very cautious when biting into them. Or stick to using peanut butter as an alternative.

If you ever do manage to suffer from accidental damage caused by foods or other emergencies, then we always advise to schedule an appointment with an emergency dentist as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage from occurring.

Is There a Difference Between Plaque and Tartar?

Posted on Aug 27, 2015

Yes, there is absolutely a difference between plaque and tartar. Often times people have these terms confused. They may believe that plaque and tartar are terms that can be used interchangeably. However, they are different in a subtle way, but as dentists in Downtown, Los Angeles we’ll educate you on the differences. It may even motivate you to brush!

The Difference Between Plaque and Tartar

Plaque is often described as a sticky film that builds up overtime on the teeth. It bears no color and therefore makes it very difficult to see. But for our sake, assume that it’s always within your mouth despite how closely you analyze everything.

Plaque contains millions of bacteria. Bacteria are alive and as a result, they become hungry… probably more hungry than we are. What do they feed on? Good question. They feed on the sugars contained within the foods we consume. And when they feed, they produce acids that attack our enamel. This is what causes tooth decay to occur. After enough decay, we begin both seeing and feeling the results in the form of a dental cavity.

Plaque forms at the gum line. This is why dentists demonstrate brushing at the gum line, because you will be attacking the plaque if done properly. Plaque is constantly growing in your mouth as a result of consuming food – which is necessary for survival.

Consider it an on-going war. Just make sure you’re winning the battles!

OK… So What’s Tartar?

Here’s the deal. When you let plaque build up overtime it doesn’t just stay as plaque. That matter must go somewhere – unfortunately it will not just disappear. In comes tartar. Plaque that has been sitting along the gum line for so long will eventually mineralize, or harden, into tartar.

Here’s what you don’t want to hear: tartar cannot be removed through brushing and flossing. Brushing and flossing are techniques used to prevent tartar from occurring. But of course, even the world’s best “brusher” and “flosser” will not effectively remove all plaque.

So who can remove tartar? Easy – your dentist!

Dentists have special tools and techniques that will remove tartar from the mouth and essentially restart the process. If you see your dentist every 6 months then you’re doing your part to win the battles of the war. If you do not, then that tartar will eventually cause a host of problems. Decay is just the start.

The Real Reason Why Smoking is Bad for Oral Health

Posted on Aug 06, 2015

Smoking is not just bad for your oral health, but for the body as a whole. Countless amount of money has been spent on campaigns to encourage more and more people to either steer clear of the habit, or quit the habit altogether. This is especially true for our youth. TobaccoFreeCA is the one campaign that comes to mind here in California.

Let’s face it; we all do things that are bad or harmful to our body. Unfortunately, some things are worse than others. If we had to place it in a top 3– we’d have to place smoking in as one of the top 3 worst habits to pick up.

However, the real issue isn’t that people are unaware of the dangers of smoking tobacco. It’s the fact that it is highly addictive and for many smokers the assumed risks of continuing the habit outweigh the pain of kicking it in a smoker’s mind. That’s why if you’ve never smoked, we strongly urge you to stay away in order to avoid falling into the same mental trap.

Analyzing the Effect of Smoke on Oral Health

When the physical act of smoking occurs, smoke is generated in our mouth before it is inhaled into our lungs where the nicotine’s addictive effects take over. We’re going to tell you what role the smoke plays on your oral health.

Keep in mind that we’re referring the tobacco smoke, but any type of smoke (i.e. hookah, illegal drugs, etc.) will produce the same results.

Smoke Causes Dryness

Any type of smoke carries the aspect of drying out anything it touches. Our mouth creates saliva during the day in order to manage the bacteria present. The less saliva, the more tendencies for problems such as decay to arise.

When we smoke, we dry this saliva up and cause our bodies to work harder to replace what is lost. Do you see the problem here? This is the starting point of all oral health problems caused by smoking. Smokers often have these symptoms as a result of a mouth that is not as nourished with saliva as it should be:

  • Stained, discolored teeth
  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth loss if decay is left untreated
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Oral cancer

Staying educated on the effects of smoking and constantly exposing yourself to it’s bad effects will move you a step closer to mustering up the courage to kick the habit. It’s tough – probably one of the toughest challenges for most. But many have already done it and continue to do it. Are you next?

The Role of Diet & Nutrition in Oral Health

Posted on Jul 27, 2015

Everyone knows that good nutrition is essential for general health, but do you know that your food choices and eating patterns also play a role in promoting good oral hygiene and developing healthy teeth?

Let us educate you on the impact of certain foods in your diet that will negatively and positively affect oral health.

Impact of Diet on Tooth Decay

The bacteria living inside your mouth rely on carbohydrates for food, so when you reduce your intake of sugar and other simple carbohydrates that ferment easily, you reduce the risk for cavities. Besides avoiding taking sugary foods and drinks, you should read food labels to determine how much sugar has been used, to contain your sugar intake.

You can identify different sources of sugar from their name, especially those ending in “-ose”. Common added sugars include glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, corn sweeteners, fruit juice concentrate, molasses, dextrin, etc.

Foods That May Negatively Affect Oral Health

Hard or sticky candies like mints, caramel, and taffy; sweets like cakes, cookies, and muffins; and snacks like chips are a major cause of dental concern, because they offer zero nutritional value, and the type and amount of sugar they contain can easily adhere to teeth, feeding the bacteria in your mouth and releasing acids that cause tooth decay.

Sugary drinks, like juice, soda, and sweetened tea or coffee are particularly harmful, because every time you drink you provide a sugary bath over all corners of your teeth.

Acidic foods, like citrus fruits and tomatoes can also corrode tooth enamel, so they should be consumed as part of a larger meal – not by themselves.

Foods That May Positively Affect Oral Health

Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding sugary foods and drinks is a good way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. According to the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion – an agency of the US Department of Agriculture, your nutrition and calorie requirements depends on your gender, age, level of physical activity, and other health factors. That said, a balanced and healthy diet should contain:

  • Protein – lean protein sources like fish, lean beef, and skinless poultry, as well as other sources like eggs, peas, beans, and legumes. It is recommended that you consume at least 8 ounces of seafood every week.
  • Dairy – fat-free or low-fat dairy foods are preferred
  • Grains – at least 50 percent of grains consumed should be while grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal
  • Fruits and vegetables – should cover half your plate in every meal as they are good sources of vitamins. Vitamin A helps with tooth enamel production, vitamins A and C help to prevent bleeding gums, overgrown gums, and gum disease, while vitamin B helps to heal sores and lesions in your mouth and prevent cracked lips.

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, you should get at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.

Teeth Sensitivity | Why It Occurs | Possible Solutions

Posted on Jul 10, 2015

Teeth sensitivity is a common issue that is experienced by at least 40 million U.S. adults at various times.

You’ll know what teeth sensitivity is because when you consume a cold or hot food, you’ll receive a sharp reaction that most often results in “Ouch!”. Again, it’s a sharp pain – not a dull, throbbing pain.

Teeth sensitivity does not necessarily point to a larger, more serious problem either. Sometimes the issue lies in our daily habits.

Top Teeth Sensitivity Causes + Solutions

Touching on the point of daily habits, there are a few habits that can be easily adjusted in order to find relief.

1. Brushing Too Hard

Probably the most common issue is brushing your teeth too hard. Or maybe you aren’t brushing too hard, but you’re using a toothbrush that is old and the bristles have hardened.

In either case, this results in wearing down the protective layers of your teeth which are where many dental nerves are stored. When these are exposed, you will definitely feel sensitivity.

Solution: Run your toothbrush over hot water to soften it, and then brush gently and slower. We recommend also investing in a new toothbrush.

2. Grinding Teeth

Another way to wear down enamel and expose the tooth’s nerves is by grinding your teeth. Sometimes we do it in our sleep without even realizing.

Solution: Contact your dentist about an orthodontic mouth guard that prevents teeth grinding that can be worn at nighttime only.

3. Specific Dental Products

Certain mouthwashes and toothpastes contain ingredients that make teeth more prone to sensitivity – especially tooth whitening products.

Solution:Try swapping what you use with neutral fluoride mouthwashes and toothpastes made specifically for sensitive teeth. They do not work for everyone, but it’s worth a shot.

4. Cracked Tooth/Pits in Teeth

Sometimes we have a slightly cracked tooth or a pit (i.e. a hole) on a tooth that is highly prone to sensitivity.

Solution: Pits can be corrected with a dental filling of your choice and cracked teeth can be restored with cosmetic dentistry. Sensitivity should stop immediately after restoring the tooth.

5. Decay

Untreated decay will inevitably lead to a host of various problems including tooth sensitivity. It manifests itself in the form of cavities and periodontal disease (i.e. gingivitis or receding gums).

Solution: The only real solution here is to have the decay addressed by brushing, flossing, visiting your dentist,

We’ve touched base on the most common forms of tooth sensitivity issues, but another solution are dental sealants which could help seal off certain areas of the tooth such as exposed dental nerves. This has been shown to provide relief in many patients.

A Common Dental No-No: Ignoring Your Cavities

Posted on Jun 25, 2015

Did you know that one in every five Americans has an untreated cavity? According to data gathered and analyzed from 2011-2012 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, this is the case.*

The numbers are broken down as follows:

  • 17.5% of children aged 5-19 have untreated cavities.
  • 27.4% of adults aged 20-44 have untreated cavities.

Based on the results alone, adults suffered the worst. Most likely due to the fact that most adults would rather provide dental care to their own children than themselves. If this is the case, we acknowledge the fact that this would be an admirable play, however you should never ignore untreated cavities and we’ll tell you why.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Untreated Cavities

Cavities set the foundation of tooth decay leading to pain, infection, and tooth loss.

Our mouth is in a constant state of battle with the millions of microscopic bacteria roaming around. These bacteria feed on the foods we consume. Sugar is one the largest culprits that bacteria feed off of, hence why dentists steer you away from it… especially children who all victim to this more so than adults.

When bacteria have something to feed on such as a particle of food sitting in your mouth overnight, it begins to attack the enamel of the tooth. When it’s left untreated (i.e. not brushing or flossing), it begins to attack the dentin. At this point, you may experience pain such as a toothache in which case your dentist will quickly spot this on an x-ray and recommend a dental filling to prevent further spread of the bacteria.

When the cavity is not addressed, it continues from the dentin into the nerves and blood vessels where the pain will increase. At this point a root canal with dental crown is needed.

In worst cases, the pulp becomes infected causing severe pain and swelling – leading to tooth extraction as the only option. These procedures are more costly than a dental filling.

Unfortunately, the bacteria from one tooth can spread to another tooth and begin attacking the newer tooth. Does this sound like a vicious cycle? That’s because it is – unless you address the cavities with a dental filling of your choice.

Fortunately, cavities are easily preventable. There’s no secret to it, either. Just your normal brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist twice yearly is all that is required for cavity control. By stopping cavities from spreading, you also stop other major problems from arising. So do yourself a favor and either prevent cavities from occurring or treat the ones you currently have.

*Source: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/dental.htm

Study Shows Link Between Periodontal Disease and Kidney Disease

Posted on Jun 17, 2015

Studies continue to show how the mouth is connected to the body in many ways that we often overlook.

A study comprised of African Americans classified with normal kidney function found that those with severe periodontal disease were 4 times more likely to develop chronic kidney disease (CKD) over those whom did not have severe periodontal disease.*

The Study Background

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the oral cavities that results in inflammation of the gums among other symptoms.

Researchers of the University of California, San Francisco studied 699 African Americans with a follow-up average of 4.8 years for the best possible results.

After adjusting for various factors (i.e. smoking, age, sex, income, medical conditions)those with severe periodontal disease had a 4.2-fold greater incidence of chronic kidney disease.

The results were presented at ASN Kidney Week towards the end of 2014.

The Best Way to Translate This Study?

The study means that those with severe periodontal disease, especially African Americans, should seriously consider treating the condition as soon as possible in order to avoid further damage. Periodontal disease is also linked to many other ailments besides CKD including heart disease and diabetes.

What many do not understand is how treatable periodontal disease is. Granted, severe cases are unable to be reversed, but may still be treated with high success rates. However, if your periodontal disease is in its early stages, then it can easily be reversed with some dental intervention and conscious changes to your oral hygiene habits.

Your best defense against anything related to the mouth remains the same:

  • Brushing (twice a day)
  • Flossing (at least once a day – night is better than daytime)
  • Routine visits to your dentist

*Source: http://www.newswise.com/articles/periodontal-disease-linked-to-increased-risk-of-kidney-diseas

Worst Foods to Consume for Your Teeth: Brush Right After Eating These!

Posted on May 27, 2015

Many people know the basic formula for maintaining sparkling, healthy teeth, which includes regular brushing and flossing, consuming foods rich in calcium, and staying away from sugary foods and candy.

According to the American Dental Association, people should stay away from sugary and sticky foods because they tend to stay on the teeth for longer, giving bacteria an opportunity to act on them. Action of bacteria on the sugars leads to the production of acid that dissolves tooth enamel resulting in cavities. But sugar is not the only problem for healthy teeth. Acidic foods and drinks, including highly acidic fruits, carbonated drinks, and white wine contain a high amount of acidic content that erodes tooth enamel, leaving your teeth more vulnerable to damage.

Are you suffering from one of these common adult dental symptoms?

Medications, foods, and drinks that stall saliva production and facilitate a dry mouth are also not ideal for dental health. This is because saliva helps to prevent food from sticking to the teeth by naturally washing the mouth of small food particles.

So, if you must consume the following list of worst foods to eat for your teeth, then make sure to brush afterwards.

1. Hard Candies

The sugar in candy is bad, but hard candies are particularly dangerous because you hold them in the mouth for much longer. This allows bacteria in your mouth to act on the sugar and produce acid almost immediately.

2. Confectionery Products

Products such as caramel are added to ice cream, cookies, popcorn, desserts, puddings, and so much more as a topping, filling, or flavoring. Caramel is a sugar in gooey form. It tends to stick to your teeth and form a coat that wears away tooth enamel, increasing your risk of tooth decay. Beware of caramel – it can also pull fillings right out of your mouth.

3. Sugary Baked Items

Baked products, such as cookies, cakes, and brownies contain a lot of sugar. These starchy treats easily get stuck between your teeth, and their high sugar content can be damaging to your teeth. It is hard to stay away from cakes and cookies, so if you must indulge, make sure to brush and floss afterwards.

4. Carbonated and Sugary Drinks

Sodas, sports drinks, sugary cocoas, and acidic coffees (i.e. coffee loaded with creamer)are not only bad for your general health, but also your dental health. These drinks contain sugars, citric acid, and other preservatives that can erode tooth enamel, causing irreversible damage.

5. White Wine

Compared to red wine, white wine does not have anti-bacterial properties that help to prevent tooth decay. In addition, white wine has a high acidic content, which can erode tooth enamel, leaving your teeth more vulnerable to decay.

While it is good to be eager about proper dental health, it is recommended that you wait for about half an hour to one hour before brushing your teeth after consuming sugary or acidic foods and drinks. Brushing too soon further aggravates your teeth because the enamel is already weakened by the sugar or acid you consumed. The wait is necessary to give your saliva enough time to neutralize the acid and rinse away the food.

Adults Should Pay Attention to These Common Dental Problems

Posted on May 12, 2015

It’s easy for us to get into a routine and neglect certain issues that our bodies are trying to get our attention on. That’s what your Downtown Los Angeles dentists are going to cover today – those common dental problems that adults experience from time to time that are normally ignored, untreated, or masked by medicine.

Tooth Sensitivity

This comes in many forms, but is often experienced by hot or cold foods, as you are normally already aware of. Tooth sensitivity is very common and can occur at any age, but is typically experienced by adults below the age of 40. It may be as simple as replacing a worn out filling, but could be as large as undergoing a root canal. It’s a case by case issue that should be consulted over with a professional.

Toothache

Coming in as the most common dental symptom experienced by everyone at least once is the toothache. Toothaches almost always point to larger issues – with the most common being tooth decay in it’s beginning phases. As the toothache worsens, generally the issue does also. Never ignore toothaches and get them examined as soon as you notice any signs of consistent re-occurrence.

TMJ

TMJ involves issues with our jawbone and can be experienced with a few telltale symptoms including a locked jaw or a clicking/popping noise created when we move our jaw. TMJ is usually not very painful for many, which is why it is ignored. However, it could point to a more serious structural issue that – at the very least – should be examined by your dentist. You may be recommended for custom orthodontic appliances.

Oral Cancer

Most people do not think of this because they believe they’re too young for cancer. Truth is, anyone can develop oral cancer and the worst part is that its beginning stages involve symptoms that are not painful. It also happens to be one of the most common cancers. Tiny white spots, sores, or red spots cause concern. Oral cancer screenings by your dentist are a great way to make sure your mouth is under control.

It is absolutely vital that you brush and floss your teeth every day (especially at nighttime!). However, we want to add that just because you may be on top of your oral hygiene routine does not guarantee you safe from these common problems. Pay attention to your symptoms and act accordingly.

Vitamin D-fence: A Natural Way to Prevent Tooth Loss

Posted on Apr 18, 2015

Are you familiar with the fact that vitamin D is great for your oral health? If not, we’ll explain why! It begins with understanding some of the fundamentals.

Calcium is important for strong bones – most people know this. You may drink milk specifically for this reason, too. Calcium also happens to be good for strong teeth. Calcium and vitamin D go hand in hand.

Where does vitamin D come into the equation?

Well, vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium by our bodies. Without vitamin D present our body will have a hard time breaking down the calcium we consume. Vitamin D helps make the process easier, smoother, and more efficient. Our bodies will naturally absorb calcium as it is, but if vitamin D is around, it will exhaust that resource as a way to help your body out.

The good news is that research and studies over the years have consistently shown that both calcium and vitamin D help contribute to decreased bone loss throughout the body. In turn, this has also translated to lower rates of tooth loss!

Fun fact: Teeth are part of our skeletal system, but are not counted as bones. They are made up of enamel and dentin, where enamel happens to be the strongest substance in our body!

Are you obtaining enough vitamin D throughout the day?

Chances are, most likely not. Many people actually struggle to meet the American Dietetic Associations’ daily value for both calcium and vitamin D.

Recommended daily values:

  • 2,500 mg/day of calcium
  • 1,000 units/day of vitamin D

What are the best ways to receive vitamin D?

There are plenty of natural ways to meet the daily values:

  • Dairy products (milk is excellent – cheese in moderation)
  • Soy and rice drinks
  • Salmon and other fatty fish
  • Almonds
  • Dark green leafy vegetables

We hope you see the benefits of vitamin D and make an effort to incorporate it more into your daily routine. As always, never forget to brush and floss your teeth!

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