Primary Dental Care Blog

Questions about Dentistry

Preventing Cavities By Understanding Your Teeth

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You probably think of your teeth as tough, hard structures. And you’re not exactly wrong. But your teeth aren’t exactly impervious. And while they’re incredibly tough and strong – you should think of them like hard sponges rather than rocks.

The thing is that teeth are permeable. Things pass through them. Things like minerals – including the minerals that help make your teeth stronger, harder, and healthier. What our dentists in Anaheim try to encourage many patients to understand is that brushing your teeth is great and essential. But what good oral hygiene does is disorganize and break up gunk like plaque, tartar, and food debris.

However, when it comes to preventing cavities. If you already have one brushing harder isn’t going to help as much as eating better. Yes, diet can often be more important than oral hygiene (but, please – don’t start eating celery instead of brushing your teeth. It’s all essential).

Every day, our dentists and hygienists scrape away plaque and tartar. But if the patient doesn’t do anything to change the rate at which they grow – the “gunk” is only going to keep coming back. By improving your diet, you can actually reduce how quickly problem substances develop.

So what can you eat and avoid? Read on to learn:

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How to Fight Cavities with Your Food

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If you’ve ever had a cavity, you know that they can be either very uncomfortable or incredibly sneaky – waiting patiently to strike and cause pain at the worst possible moment.

What you might not know about cavities is that they’re perfectly preventable – and they’re entirely dependant on a few key variables, including:

  • The bacteria that makes up your mouth’s micro-biome: including the good and the bad
  • Your saliva and what its made of: everyone’s is different
  • And your diet: which is what we’re going to talk about today

When these three elements come together in your mouth – they can either prevent or produce cavities.

But your diet isn’t just responsible for creating cavities. It can also influence your mouth’s ability to fight and prevent them, such as the vital nutrients needed to support the re-mineralization of your teeth.

So what can you eat to fight cavities? 

While you probably already know that you need to avoid sugary and acidic foods to prevent cavities – you might now know what you need to eat to actually fight them. These include:

Calcium

For many years, calcium has been known to help support dental health by stimulating saliva production and re-mineralization.

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is used for a lot by the body. But in general, it’s used to support your body’s ability to absorb all of the calcium and phosphorous it needs. If you’re working to get more calcium and phosphorous in your body – you’ll also need vitamin D to ensure that they’re even capable of being put to use.

Magnesium

Like calcium, magnesium is used for a lot of purposes in your body. And also like calcium – magnesium is very useful when it comes to the re-mineralization process because of the way it helps regulate nutrients like calcium and phosphorous.  Combined with other vitamins like K12 – which also helps support and regulate the levels of various minerals and nutrients in your body – it becomes very clear that there’s a delicate balance of substances that play into your dental health. As a patient (and a human) it’s your task to try and make sure your body gets what it needs.

Long story short: it isn’t all about brushing and flossing. Just like working out in the gym is only a small part of getting that six-pack that you’ve always wanted. Diet is the key. And the same goes for your teeth.

Have a question about your teeth? Or maybe you’re having trouble with cavities? Our dentists in the Anaheim area have the tools, resources, and expertise to help. If you’re in the area, contact us today to learn about new patient specials.

Do You Really Need to See the Dentist Twice a Year?

It’s the age-old question that dentists (including our own dentists in the Anaheim area) always hear from patients and prospective patients alike: “Do I really need to see the dentist every 6 months?”

While 6 months is a great guidelines to follow – just like “every 3,000-5000 miles” is a great guideline to follow when it comes to getting your car’s oil changed – it all depends on the person. No two mouths are alike!

If you take great care of your teeth and brush and floss every day with impeccable precision, care, and technique – you might not need to go to the dentist as often as someone who isn’t so great about their oral hygiene. But do you really know how good you are at taking care of your teeth?

The thing to understand about your teeth, your mouth, and what’s going on inside is that plaque, tartar, and gum disease are like a cancer that never stop spreading. Hygienists in our Garden Grove dental office have completely freed teeth of plaque and tartar on one day – only for our dentists to find it already forming just weeks later when it came time to place a filling.

Think about it this way. Just like you need to get your car serviced more often if you drive hard (or recklessly), if you’re tough on your teeth – you need to get them checked out more often. You also might not know how hard you’re being on your teeth – so the “every  6 months” guidelines is typically a pretty safe one.

Wondering if your teeth need more frequent or less frequent care? Our dentists are happy to help.

How to Make Your Teeth Cleanings More Comfortable

Not everyone loves going to the dentist. But unfortunately, the less you go to the dentist- the more work there is for your dentist to do. Which can make the process more uncomfortable.

But what can you do to make going to the dentist more comfortable? Hopefully our dentists in Garden Grove can help.

5 Tips to Make Your Next Trip to the Dentist More Comfortable

1. Take an over the counter pain reliever, before and after

Ever deal with a little discomfort when you’re sitting in the dental chair? Take an OTC painkiller like advil or ibuprofen before you leave home for your appointment. By the time you get to the dentist’s office, it should kick in to help relieve pain and discomfort due to inflammation. Bringing one along with you to take after your appointment as well can also help.

2. Try a toothpaste for sensitive teeth 

Have you ever complained about discofort after or during your dental appointment? Try out a tooth made to de-sensitive your teeth – like sensodyne. When used consistently, this can significantly help reduce the sensitivity that leads to discomfort during your dental exams.

3. Ask for numbing

Our Anaheim area dentists are well aware that some patients experience some discomfort. Many times, this can be relieved by topical anesthesia applied to the area where cleaning is applied and can work incredibly well for a lot of patients.

4. Be careful not to over-brush

Brushing incorrectly often includes brushing much too hard. Not only can this wear away your enamel, but it can also wear away your gums and contribute to gum recession. All of this can contribute to sensitivity, making your next dental appointment more uncomfortable. Trying an electric toothbrush can go a long way when it comes to preventing sensitivity because of the way they can encourage more correct brushing.

5. Communicate!

Communicating with your dentist and dental hygienist is key. As a patient, you want to find someone who is willing to work with you and understand the discomfort you experience at the dentist. Need a hand? Our dentists in the Anaheim area can help.

 

Root Planing and Dental Scaling, What It is and Why You Might Need It

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If you’ve been paying attention, you know that a large percentage of the population “suffers” from a form of gum disease.  But the fact is, that gum disease could be present without you even knowing it.

The simplest way to put it is this: food debris gets stuck in your teeth, but also in and under your gums. When that happens, harmful bacteria builds-up. Over time – this is one of the primary contributors of gum disease, and – eventually – tooth loss.

 

In many cases, solving the problem of gum disease can often be accomplished by simply doubling down on your hygiene efforts by making sure you brush, floss, and rinse multiple times a day (and correctly). 

For more resources on how to do that, take a look at some of our existing blog posts on the topic:

Are you flossing right?

Have a Hard Time Sticking to a Good Brushing Routine? Our Garden Grove Dentists Have Some Advice

How Mouthwash Can Help Your Teeth and Mouth

But when traditional dental care techniques aren’t cutting it – sometimes you have to go deeper. That’s when dental scaling and root planing enter the equation.

But what are they?

Dental scaling and root planing are provided by your dental hygienist or dentist. In most cases – they will use a local anaesthetic to help minimize any discomfort. Because you can think about scaling and root planing – in a way – as pulling the splinter out of a wound to prevent infection. It involves completely scaling away all plaque and tartar from your teeth and root surfaces. Then, planing the roots to smooth out rough areas where bacteria and plaque can begin to re-adhere.

First, this cleans your gums. Then, it allows them to heal. And finally, it allows them to attach themselves more thoroughly to your teeth – preventing debris and bacteria from getting under your gums again to cause problems.

Have questions about your teeth? Our dentists in Garden Grove can help. If you’re a patient in the Anaheim area and could use a great new dentist – we’re here to help.

 

 

 

 

Pediatric Dentistry: How to Break the Pacifier Habit

This child is probably too old for a pacifier.

This child is probably too old for a pacifier.

For the last few days, our dentists in Anaheim have focused our blogging efforts on pediatric dentistry and the almighty pacifier.

If you haven’t read our previous posts and feel like catching up – feel free to catch up on what we’ve covered, including:

Today, we’re completing our “series” on pacifiers with some helpful tips and tricks to encourage your child to give up the pacifier (or at least ease-up on its reliance). A pacifier should not be an all-encompassing security blanket, treating it like one can have some very real consequences.

So to answer the question of “How to get my baby to stop using a pacifier” we’ve compiled the following list.

  • The earlier the better (1 year, max): the sooner you stop relying on a pacifier, the more likely you are to prevent any problems with improper emotional or facial development. This is the easiest way to not have a problem on your hands. If you’re using a pacifier past the 1 year mark – it’s time to start scaling back.
  • Remove it gradually: While going “cold turkey” on the pacifier can sometimes make for a faster transition, if your baby has already been using a pacifier for a while – it might be hard.  On top of this, you really have to stick with it if you’re going the cold-turkey route,  and relenting after a while is only going to make things work. Only offering the pacifier at certain times and gradually eliminating it from the equation can sometimes be the smoothest course of action.
  • “You’re a big girl now”: Equating quitting the pacifier as being a “big kid” now can be a great positive reinforcement tactic for eliminating it as a crutch or coping device. Does your toddler have an older sibling? Encourage him or her to look up to their sibling as a model.
  • Trade the pacifier for a reward: If you have a toddler who is old enough to understand “rewards” – try encouraging a trade. “Your pacifier for a toy”. In fact, many families end up encouraging their toddlers to graduate from a pacifier to something like a stuffed animal or a blanket. Just make sure they don’t start sucking on that toy instead of the pacifier.

 

Be mindful of thumb-sucking too. 

If you’ve recently removed the pacifier from your child’s “diet” – you will also want to be sure you remain aware of thumb-sucking as well. This is a harder habit to break, because it’s not like you can take away your child’s thumbs.

In most cases, thumb-sucking habits go away naturally. But sometimes, re-introducing the pacifier and gradually removing it again in a few months could be the best way forward. There’s a good chance it just “wasn’t time” yet.

Pediatric Dentistry: The Negative Side of Pacifiers

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For the last few days, we’ve talked about pediatric dentistry and pacifiers. Why? Because new parents have a lot of questions – and the answers aren’t always simple.

There’s quite a lot at stake when it comes to raising your child, and the decisions you make can ripple through the years. So as pediatric dentists in the Anaheim area – it’s our task to try and make sure you have all the information you need to raise healthy, happy children with bright and shiny teeth. The fact that pacifiers can often be misunderstood is unfortunate. Because they can help a great deal. But as the saying goes: too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. And it’s no different for pacifiers.

The Potential Negative Effect of Pacifiers

The biggest question about pacifiers often centers around the concern that they can make teeth crooked and misaligned. The simple answer to this is that, “Yes, pacifiers can and will make teeth crooked” (if they aren’t used with care). Our dentists have seen plenty of children who probably used a pacifier far too often.

To be more specific, pacifier over-use can lead to:

  • An open bite: This is the most common pacifier-related dental problem, and is when the bottom and front teeth are pushed outward – developing around the nipple (or a thumb).
  • High narrow palate: this occurs when the roof of your baby’s mouth is higher than normal and the airway is narrower, which causes the airway to be reduced in size.
  • Problems with intercuspal width in the maxillary arch: “intercuspal” means “between the teeth”. A pacifier can cause the width between the top molars to be narrower than it should be. Which can cause alignment problems in the future
  • Crossbite: More specifically, a posterior crossbite. This is when the front teeth cover the bottom teeth – but the bottom molars don’t exactly behave the same as the top molars.

Why it’s important

It might not seem like a big deal. But once your baby becomes addicted to the pacifier – it can be hard to break the habit. But it’s important to be aware of the possible outcomes of a “pacifier addiction” in order to prevent some serious problems that can develop with your child’s airway and dental development. Some of the most serious problems involve the development of your child’s airway.

In fact, improper airway development can even lead to a wide variety of disorders, including:

  • Exhaustion
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Behavioral problems
  • Insomnia
  • ADHD
  • Obesity
  • And others…

On top of this, an over-reliance on pacifiers can also contribute to difficulty breastfeeding (through nipple confusion or poor latching) and an increased risk of ear infections. However – as most studies show, these downsides tend to be highly dependant on how often and how you use a pacifier. So again – moderation is key. Refer to our tips in yesterday’s post What you should know about pacifiers for some tips.

Pediatric Dentistry: When and How You Should Use a Pacifier

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Yesterday we provided a general overview of pacifiers – and why you might want to use (or avoid) them with your baby. The thing is – the entire subject isn’t completely cut and dry.

As we mentioned, our dentists in Garden Grove definitely recommend being careful and using pacifiers with moderation. However – the pros and the cons of pacifiers are far to evenly balanced to completely rule them out.

From the ability to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) to the valuable respite parents can get from a simple pacifier – the benefits of pacifiers can seem pretty great. But the downsides can also be problematic as well – ranging from improper oral development to issues with breastfeeding.

There’s a great chance you will want to use a pacifier from time to time. What our Anaheim pediatric dentists recommend is to not completely rule it out. There’s no shame in using a pacifier (at all). Digest the following lists to get a better idea of how and when to safely use a pacifier.

When you should consider using a pacifier

  • Once your baby has formed a strong breastfeeding latch
  • If you bottle-feed, pacifiers can strengthen the baby’s ability to feed
  • Before your baby turns 1, to help prevent SIDS
  • If your baby is in pain, or is in the NICU (and can’t have other forms of comfort, like skin-to-skin contact).
  • When all other methods to sooth the baby have been exhausted, and the baby just won’t. stop. crying.

Bottom line: Pacifiers should never be the first option when soothing your baby.

Some pointers for safely using a pacifier with your baby

  • Don’t force your baby to use a pacifier.
  • Only offer a pacifier between feedings. Never offer your baby a pacifier in order to buy-time or delay a feeding.
  • Don’t use your own mouth to clean it, and always make sure its clean. The bacteria in your mouth can drastically influence the make-up of bacteria in your baby’s mouth and can sometimes increase the risk of cavities.
  • Be sure it’s made from only the safest materials

What You Should Know About Pacifiers

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New parents have to make so many decisions.

  • Breast or bottle?
  • Feed on a schedule? Or eat when hungry?
  • Co-sleeping or sleeping on her own?
  • Let her cry, or comfort her tears?
  • What about using a pacifier?

For many new parents, the pacifier is a gift from God – sent down to quickly and effectively squelch the cries and win some peace.  But, as your pediatric doctor and our pediatric dentists in Garden Grove will remind you – it’s important to be knowledgeable about the pros and cons of using a pacifier with your baby.

On one hand, pacifiers are a fast and easy source of comfort for babies. On the other hand, they can have a very noticeable impact on the development of your baby’s teeth.

The thing is, pacifiers can be incredibly helpful. But they should come with a warning label (of sorts). At our dental practice in Garden Grove – one of our favorite parts of being dentists is getting to know families as their children transition from having their very first pediatric dental appointment to watching their permanent teeth slowly move into place.

It’s no secret that new parents want to do everything right – and it’s only natural that this can lead to some anxiety. But the thing is, in the last handful of decades – the prevalence of tools made to make babies “easier” live with also effectively change the way a normal child’s mouth develops. Today, the need for tonsil and wisdom tooth removal is a result of how developing mouths are…well…developing! Bottom line:  if your baby is developing with a pacifier in their mouth – they’re developing differently than nature intended. So naturally – there’s a consequence.

“So what’s the big picture? Should I give my baby a pacifier?”

The question isn’t always easy to answer perfectly. Because ultimately – if we’re concerned with oral development – it’s best to avoid pacifiers. But that’s only if we’re just thinking about teeth. There are other factors at play as well. Like, for instance, the fact that pacifiers severely reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrom (SIDS) by up to 90%.

On top of this, pacifiers can also help prevent mouth breathing, improve jaw function, and provide some much needed quiet for mom and dad (which is also important). While most moms will understand a pacifier shouldn’t be used until a proper breastfeading latch has been established (to prevent nipple confusion) – the pros and the cons don’t exactly outweigh each other.

So what’s the best way to approach pacifiers? Our dentists in the Anaheim area simply recommend care and moderation. Should you have a question? Just don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist or doctor.

Do You Need to Brush MORE Than Twice a Day?

Lately, it’s become more and more popular for men and women around the world to eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day instead of the standard breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The primary claim about this diet is that eating several meals throughout the day helps keep your metabolism more active, ensures you’re not hungry, and helps keep a better handle on your blood sugar – which can have a big impact on your energy.  But what about your teeth?

What some people wonder is – “If I’m eating more meals during the day, do I need to be brushing my teeth more?” the answer might surprise you. The fact of the matter is that it is absolutely possible to overbrush your teeth. However, this often depends more on how you brush – and not how many times you brush in a day.

The thing about toothbrushes is that the bristles are effectively “rounded” at the factory. You just can’t see it because the ends are microscopic. Once these rounded edges wear away, the bristles of your toothbrush become – essentially – like tiny little knives. This smoothness is essential, and a primary reason why it’s so important to replace your toothbrush every few months.

This is the first factor you should be aware of when brushing your teeth multiple times a day. The tool.

Next, you should be focused on the technique. If you use a proper technique with a good toothbrush – our dentists in Garden Grove suggest you could eat frequently and brush after every meal without having a problem or damaging your teeth or wearing away your gums.