Primary Dental Care Blog

Questions about Dentistry

Do I Really Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

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While the wisdom teeth are (reportedly) called that because they “erupt” at a later stage in life, when the patient is (allegedly) much wiser than when other teeth erupted.

But with all of this talk about “wisdom” many patients wonder if the wisdom teeth need to be removed at all. For most dentists, including our dentists in Garden Grove – the advice is almost always “Yes”.

More often than not, dentists tend to agree that wisdom teeth should come out in order to prevent a number of other potential problems further down the road.

The biggest concern is typically the 2nd molars (the teeth before the wisdom teeth). It’s possible for there to be an increase in bone loss on the back side of your second molars. On top of this, it’s very common to get food stuck between the second molar and the adjacent wisdom tooth. This can easily lead to a cavity on either the wisdom tooth, the 2nd molar, or both — which is never good.

The wisdom teeth are also simply hard to reach. In almost every mouth, the molars are frequently the teeth that receive the most lackluster care simply because they’re tougher to reach. Your wisdom teeth are even harder to reach. So it isn’t unreasonable to expect a problem later in life.

Finally, and most importantly – the issue of “impacted” molars. Many times, patients learned of impacted molars many years ago but don’t get them removed. Unfortunately, while everyone is different, a common way for wisdom teeth to cause problems is when they become tipped forward and impacted. This forces them to contact with the back of the second molar in front of it, which can easily cause cavities on the innocent 2nd molar.  The worst part is, if this requires both teeth to be removed, it can lead to poor support for the remaining unopposed teeth.

Ultimately, the smartest option is to minimize the number of problems that can happen in the future. Unfortunately, with wisdom teeth – chances are high that there could be an issue. For most dentists – the easiest option is to eliminate the chance, since the teeth aren’t needed for any practical purpose.

3 Types of Dental Pain and How You Should Approach Them

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Yesterday, we started to scratch the surface about your teeth and the types of dental pain that you might experience throughout your life. We covered sensitivity, dull aching pain (the most common kind), and sudden stabbing pain that can often provide a signal that you could have a cracked tooth or a dental abscess – all issues that require immediate attention.

Today, we’re discussing some additional varieties of dental pain. Especially those that patients in our Garden Grove dental practice often report occurring suddenly and without warning.

Extreme pain that throbs

If you’re having pain that seems extremely painful, and hard to bear – it could be a good sign that you need to call the number for the nearest emergency dentist. If you live in Garden Grove, California, our emergency dentist can help. If you’re also experiencing swelling in your face – it could be a sign that a cavity or crack has lead to an abscess or infection. If the tooth is too damaged, you could need a root canal procedure in order to save the tooth.  If left untreated, this can lead to more serious health problems throughout your body.

Pain at the Back of Your Jaw

Pain in your jaw tends to be a pretty specific pain – especially if you haven’t had your wisdom teeth removed. Pain at the back portion of your jaw (on either side), can often signal that you have an impacted wisdom tooth. Unfortunately, if you don’t get a wisdom tooth treated – it will lead to more pain and discomfort until you do.

Pain When You Eat

If you ever experience a toothache when you’re eating food (of any kind) it could be a good indicator that you’re experiencing either a dental fracture or a cavity. While this doesn’t require a call to your emergency dentist, it does require a call. Tell your dentist what’s going on, and there’s a good chance they’ll find a spot for you in the schedule. In the meantime – take some over-the-counter pain medication, and carefully eat softer foods.

If you’re a patient from Garden Grove experiencing a toothache, don’t delay! The sooner you treat the root cause of a toothache, the better. 

 

So You Haven’t Been to the Dentist in Forever….

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Admitting you need someone can often be a pretty hard thing to do. That might be one reason why it can sometimes be tough to return to the dentist after having not had an appointment for several years. More often than not, patients who haven’t been to the dentist in forever simply dread getting “the lecture” about their teeth.

Many patients will often talk to friends or family members about being upset or angry with their dentist because they might have been on the receiving end of a talk about being better about oral health. Or worse, they feel negative about their dentist because “every time” they go, they have a cavity to treat. Unfortunately, “every time” in this case means every 3 or 4 years – which means that the dentist never actually even had the opportunity to prevent the cavity in the first place.

So how do you make a dental appointment easier when you haven’t been in more than a couple years? It’s actually not that hard, and it all starts with attitude. Just be up-front with your dentist about your history and your routine. Acknowledge what you know needs changing, and you’ll just have a good, informative conversation.

Also understand this – much of what your dentist tells you is dictated by the law. In order to improve your health and prevent dental emergencies in the future, your dentist is required to make sure you understand your health. This might include the reminder that your spotty brushing routine and 5 year breaks  visits to the dentist could be having an effect. Nobody’s trying to make you feel badly.

Outside of being afraid of “the lecture” some patients are more worried about how the dentist will react to your mouth, especially if you’ve been a bit lax with your oral hygiene. Our dentists in Garden Grove remind you this: we’ve always seen worse. On top of this – our entire dental team is comprised of the industry’s top professionals, so you can always expect caring, compassionate care, no matter what.

One final tip: Tell the Dentist How You Feel

If you haven’t been to the dentist in years and you’re worried about what your dentist might find or what she might say. Let it out! Don’t worry silently. You should be able to trust your dentist, and if you’re nervous about your cleaning – saying so is the perfect start to better oral health and a better relationship with your dentist for years to come.

Can Dental Pain Ever Wait? Learn More about the Kinds of Dental Pain

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Dental pain is one of the most common and important signs that there’s a problem going on with your teeth. In just about every case, dental pain needs to be addressed quickly, because the longer unchecked dental pain goes untreated – the more dangerous and expensive it can be to fix.

With this in mind, it’s important to remember to not delay when it comes to dental pain. Our dentists in Garden Grove frequently remind patients to take care of problems like this as quickly as possible – before it gets harder to treat.

Read on to learn about some of the types of dental pain you might be experiencing, and how to approach the problem in the smartest way possible.

Sudden, intermittent pains

If you’re experiencing sharp, jabbing pains that less of an ache and more of a “Stab” – there’s a good chance that the pain is occurring due to a specific stimulus like applying pressure, chewing, eating something cold, and more. In most cases, this type of pain comes about due to a crack, abscess, or cavity.

A Dull Ache

The most common type of dental pain is often the dull, nagging toothache that isn’t so bad that it’s debilitating, but there’s definitely the sign that there’s something wrong. While a toothache like this can often be dulled with over the counter pain-killers, it’s important not to simply hide the symptoms of this problem. It could be deep tooth-decay, and the important part is that you treat it quickly to prevent unnecessary damage.

Sudden and sharp sensitivity

Like the sudden pain from a crack or cavity, sharp tooth sensitivity can often feel much similar. The difference here is that the sensitivity generally isn’t triggered until your teeth experience a sudden change in temperature – such as when you’re eating ice cream or drinking a hot beverage. Many times, this can be tied to dental sensitivity caused by recession or over-brushing. Other times, it could have something to do with an abscess, cavity, or other dental injury.

Are your teeth experiencing a strange sensation? Ignoring it could possibly be the worst way to approach the “problem”. To avoid dental emergencies in the future, contact your dentist in the present to get an answer about the pain you’re experiencing. It could save you a lot of time, money, and hassle. 

 

 

 

Feeling Sensitivity from a Cavity Filling? Read This

Dental sensitivity can be a pretty irritating thing, and it can happen for a great many reasons.

You could be experiencing dental sensitivity for the simple reason that you’re predisposed to it, or you could have a minor case of receding gums that make your teeth more susceptible to stimuli like hot and cold.  Or, if you’ve recently had some dental work done – the sensitivity could be a natural side effect of the procedure your teeth just went through. Every day, our dentists in Garden Grove treat patients with symptoms of all kinds. Sometimes – treatment can lead to some dental sensitivity.

Many times, treatment for cavities is just what a patient needs. But the depth of the cavity can often influence how the tooth feels afterward and whether or not you experience sensitivity to go along with it.

Consider one patient, for example. They had a deep cavity filled a few weeks ago. While the cavity was treated and sealed successfully, the patient began reporting heightened sensitivity to cold and heat – especially with cold beverages.

While many patients experience sensitivity after a dental procedure – especially those who already had minor sensitivity, the most common question remains: “How long can I expect this sensitivity to last?”Fortunately for the patient in the example, the added sensitivity was simply temporary and dissipated after a few weeks.

Sensitivity can occur especially if a treated cavity was deep and close in proximity to the dental pulp. In most cases like this, the best solution is to be patient. The dental pulp is fragile, and if it’s just dealt with some irritation in the form of a dentist’s drill it will likely need time to heal. This can be done by treating the tooth with care and avoiding both extreme pressures and temperatures.  If the cavity was deep and close to the pulp, then it’s not uncommon for sensitivity to last for a long time, in which case your only option is to wait it out. The fragile pulp just underwent trauma and needs time to heal. Judging from your description, this seems most likely. Go easy on the tooth and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures and pressure.

Have a question about your teeth? Our Garden Grove dentists have seen it all. To learn more about how we can help your teeth – contact us today, or explore the rest of our blog for all sorts of answers to dental questions you may have. 

 

The Pros and Cons of Mouthwash When Protecting Your Teeth

Whether you’ve been living out of a suitcase and you’re feeling gross, or a minty fresh mouth is just the perfect way to feel a bit more fresh in the morning, when it comes to your oral hygiene – it’s important to know what you’re putting in your mouth and what you’re doing to your mouth when you use products like mouthwash.

A solid oral hygiene plan keeps your teeth clean, white, and free from dental emergencies. Every day, our dentists in Garden Grove guide patients to better, safer, and more effective dental routines. Many times, mouthwash tends to become part of those dental routines. In most cases -that’s a pretty good thing, but there are some guidelines you should follow to make sure you get the maximum benefit – without running into any problems.

The Pros of Mouthwash

It freshens your breath: This is the big, obvious one. Whenever anyone feels like their mouth smells like a rotten dumpster (for whatever reason), many times the first impulse is to reach for a bottle of mouthwash. On top of that, the cool, refreshing “heat” of mouthwash can often make the mouth feel cleaner than it was before. Chances are it is. One point for mouthwash.

It helps fight cavities: Outside of freshening your breath – mouthwash boasts the even more important benefit of helping to prevent and even fight cavities that are in the process of forming. This, however, requires mouthwash that contains fluoride – which can neutralize the bacteria that goes on to cause cavities.

It protects you from gum disease: When you rinse and gargle with antibacterial mouthwash, in addition to freshening your breath and preventing cavities – it can also help prevent the development of gum disease. This is, again, a function of its ability to neutralize bacteria. For patients that are particularly susceptible to periodontal issues (like pregnant mothers), this can be especially useful.

It will help sooth canker sores: Many people experience what’s known as “canker sores” — aphthous ulcers that appear in your mouth or on your tongue for a number of reasons. While temporary, these can be quite painful. But fortunately, mouthwash can help dull that pain by reducing the bacteria that irritates them.

The Cons of Mouthwash

Fortunately, the upsides to using mouthwash far outweigh the downsides. But there are a few things you need to be careful of. Fortunately, you won’t be creating a dental emergency by using the wrong mouthwash twice – but if you’re experiencing any problems with your teeth, it could be worth double checking what you’re using and how you’re using it.

It isn’t a cure for bad breath, just a bandaid: While mouthwash will make your mouth feel clean and fresh, if it’s bad oral hygiene that’s giving you bad breath – mouthwash won’t cure it. You have to first understand the underlying cause of your breath.

Alcohol can irritate your mouth: Depending on the mouthwash you choose, some products can contain high amounts of alcohol. While this helps disinfect and kill germs and bacteria – it can also irritate the mouth, make it burn, and inhibit saliva production. While the burning makes some patients feel “like it’s working”, it’s not the best for your mouth.

It’s not a cure for bad breath: Although mouthwash does leave you with a fresh feeling, people with poor oral hygiene might find that the effect is short-lived. It is best to discuss your bad breath with your dentist to treat the underlying issue.

Alcohol irritates the mouth: Some mouthwash contains high level of alcohol and while this works to disinfect the mouth and kill bacteria, alcohol also irritates the mouth and can cause a burning sensation. Alcoholic mouthwash can also irritate canker sores rather than helping to heal them.

 

 

Our Guide: Dentistry Tips for Patients Without Dental Insurance (Part 2)

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Yesterday, we published Part 1 of our 2 part series on saving money at the dentist if you don’t have dental insurance (and really – it should help even if you do!).  So if you haven’t read it yet, go back! Or you’ll miss plenty of good tips about taking better care of your teeth, without running into costly dental emergencies.

So, starting from where we left off at Step 2 (See Your Dentist Twice a Year), we begin with…

Step 3: Diet

As we’ve mentioned before, diet is an incredibly important part of a healthy set of teeth. But we’re not here to tell you that you can never drink a soda or eat carbs. “Everything in moderation” is the maxim you need to remember. The single thing you need to remember is how your diet impacts your teeth.

Every time your teeth are exposed to carbs or sugar – it will ultimately turn into acid – which increases the risk of getting a cavity. But don’t forget: it’s not just junk food. A wide variety of fruits, drinks, and other foods will break down into acids. So it’s important to stay on top of your hygiene. By brushing regularly, you ensure that you consistently wash away the acid that eating imparts on your teeth.

On top of this. It’s also important to remember how your mouth works. By snacking and drinking sugary drinks between meals, you extend the amount of time your teeth are exposed to acid. This is why it’s important to snack healthy (celery, cucumbers, carrots) and only drink water between meals. Save the sugary drinks for lunch or dinner!

Step 4: Don’t Smoke

This one should be obvious, but if you don’t have dental insurance – smoking is a huge gamble. While the most famous health risk from smoking is generally lung cancer – it’s important not to forget that smoking will also do a real number on your teeth. From encouraging periodontal disease and other gum problems, to amplifying your risk of oral cancer – it’s just not a smart move.

So, if you consider yourself a smart person and you don’t have health insurance. Work on quitting smoking to save a lot of money further down the road (and potentially, your life.)

Hopefully these tips have been helpful. If you’re a dental patient or someone who needs a dentist in the Garden Grove area, don’t wait. The sooner you get preventative treatment, the sooner you’re on the road to a healthier, more cost effective set of teeth. For answers, guidance, and support – contact us anytime. 

Our Guide: Dentistry Tips for Patients Without Dental Insurance (Part 1)

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A dental emergency is never fun. Trust us. Our dentists in Garden Grove see our fair share of dental emergencies that happen at the most inconvenient times.

However, one of the reasons a dental emergency can be so shocking for some families isn’t because of the pain, or the blood, or the worry (but of course, those are still important). But because of the fact that a lack of dental insurance can make dental emergencies particularly troublesome.

With this in mind, we’ll be focusing on how you can save money, have good oral health, and avoid costly dental emergencies.

Step 1: Practice GREAT Hygiene 

If you’re not brushing carefully, cautiously, and thoughtfully – you’re not brushing right. When you don’t have dental insurance, you have to practice incredibly good hygiene. This means brushing gently at least twice a day, for two minutes — with fluoride toothpaste. You should also floss at least once a day using a gentle up and down motion. Don’t saw at your teeth, just guide the floss up and then down.

Think about it this way. A couple packs of floss, 2-3 tubes of ADA accepted toothpaste, and 2-3 toothbrushes are really all you need — and all it takes is 10 to 15 dollars at most grocery stores.

Step 2: See Your Dentist Twice a Year.

We know the drill. Schedule a dentist appointment and then reschedule, reschedule, reschedule. Sure – going to the dentist isn’t always fun, but the only thing worse than going to the dentist (for many) is not going to the dentist. Because not going to the dentist is how you end up with problems that multiply in severity…like cavities that become infections, cracks that become fractures, and toothaches that become future root canal procedures.

While you might sometimes change the recommended number of cleanings a year to 1 instead of 2 because you don’t have dental insurance, the fact is that a lack of dental insurance makes these appointments much more important.

Preventative care and early treatment are always less expensive than the big bills that come with big fixes that were put off for too long. Think about it this way: A regular cleaning might cost between $100 and $200 dollars (depending on things like X-rays).  Even a small filling for a tiny cavity won’t be much different.

When compared to the cost of fixes like crowns, root canals, or dental implants – we imagine you’d choose the hundreds of early care and preventative maintenance every time.

Live Near Garden Grove, looking for a dentist, and burning with questions about your teeth? We’ve got answers. Get in touch with our team today. 

 

A Bridge to Nowhere?: When A Dental Bridge Lacks Support

Losing a tooth is never a welcome proposition for any dental patient. In fact, every day our dentists in Garden Grove do everything they can to help our patients avoid that eventuality.

We start with education (which is part of the reason we continue to add more, and more articles to this blog – with the hopes that our patients and patients from around the world may find an answer to the specific question that they have about their teeth). With education, our patients are empowered with the information they need. This starts from a very early age – to instill in patients the importance of establishing a good routine and doesn’t stop. Education is key. But unfortunately, it doesn’t always work – and sometimes poor choices, bad habits, finicky genes, or straight-up accidents can mean your teeth need to be replaced.

Fortunately, this is also something our Garden Grove dentists have quite a bit of experience with. Over the past few years, we’ve written about dental bridges a number of times . But one questions some patients ask, is “What do you do if  you’ve lost more than one tooth?

The way a dental bridge works, is just like just about any bridge you’d find anywhere else. Bridging the gap requires support. So in most cases, your dentist will use the teeth on either side of the bridge to support the bridge.

Typically, dental bridges are only used to replace one or two teeth. This is because your dental bridge relies on healthy nearby teeth for support. When more than 2 teeth need to be replaced, it can put a lot of pressure on the healthy teeth which can lead to an unstable bridge and unnecessary damage to the supporting teeth.

For many patients with more than one tooth to replace, our dentists will recommend either dental implants, or an implant supported dental bridge – which uses an implant for at least one of the replacement teeth to ensure that the bridge is as stable and functional as possible.

Have more questions about dental bridges for multiple teeth? Our dentists can help! If you’re a patient in the Garden Grove area – contact us today for the open, honest, and experienced advice you need. 

 

 

Are Jaw Problems a Dental Emergency?

Think about how many ways you can move your jaw. Left to right, right to left, around in a circle, up and down, diagonally and every other way you could possibly imagine. It’s nature’s all-axis chewing machine, and – to be honest – it’s pretty amazing, and very complex.

That complexity is one reason many patients at our dental practice in Garden Grove complain of either chronic (long lasting) or acute (sudden) jaw trouble. This joint – the Temporomandibular Joint is responsible for quite a bit. From helping you eat to helping you talk. Unfortunately, sometimes things can go wrong.

Some of the symptoms patients might experience when dealing with jaw pain can include: 

  • Jaw pain
  • Trouble speaking or eating
  • Facial pain
  • Stiff Neck
  • A suddenly misaligned bite
  • A feeling of fullness in your ears (because the muscles and nerves in your joint are so close to your ears)

But how does it happen? Many patients have what dentists and doctors call TMD – which stands for Temporomandibular Disorders. These occur when there’s a repeated problem with your jaw, and for many – the reason isn’t exactly obvious.

Other times, you can experience many of the above symptoms from simply overusing your jaw. Whether you chewed an entire case of gum or practiced with a woodwind instrument for hours on end – overusing the jaw muscle can and will throw it out of whack (for up to a few weeks).

Have you ever made the resolution to go back to the gym and get in shape?  But instead of slowly and carefully starting a new routine, you did something else. You went to the sweat palace for the first time in months, worked out too hard, and woke up hardly able to move your arms and legs for days. It happens. And it can happen to your jaw too. So just like you would baby a complex joint like your shoulder or ankle – do the same to your jaw!

Treatments

If you do run into trouble with your jaw. Don’t panic. It can take a few weeks to heal – but in many cases, you’ll be just fine. In the meantime NSAIDS like ibuprofen, a soft diet, and alternating hot and cold on the affected muscle can do wonders. Additionally, gently massaging the joint can also help.

 

If you or a family member has been experiencing jaw pain for more than a week or two – it’s smart to call your dentist. It could very well be a simple, one-time thing. But the sooner you intervene the better. Contact our dentists in Garden Grove for the help you need.