How the Holidays Affect Your Teeth

The holidays are infamous for being diet-breakers, but let’s not forget the effect excessive sweets can have on your oral health! Don’t worry, we aren’t going to convince you to pass on pecan pie or skip the cider; however, it is important to continue practicing healthy habits, even with some well-deserved indulgences peppered into your seasonal celebrations. Sugar affects everyone’s teeth, no matter how old. Younger children’s smiles are still in the process of development, which means they need added care throughout the growing stages.

The Start of Gum Disease and Cavities

To better understand why it’s important to monitor sugar consumption, we must first address the development of gum disease and cavities. When you eat normally throughout the day, food particles and bacteria collect in your mouth and on your teeth. As you brush and floss, these particles and bacteria are removed with no harm done. However, the presence of sugar fuels the bacteria, which creates enamel-destroying acid; left untreated, the acids corrode a hole in the tooth that deepens over time. Additionally, infection can occur in the gum tissues and lead to swelling, bleeding, and pain. It’s important to limit the bacteria’s opportunity to spread by practicing consistent oral care, and keep your mouth free of disease and infection.

Dental Decay in Children

When teeth are still in development, the story can be a bit different. The above still applies, but the stakes are higher during the formative years of cutting teeth. It isn’t uncommon to hear “oh, they’re just baby teeth”, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Child tooth decay is a rampant condition and, although completely preventable, is five times as common as asthma. It’s entirely possible for the infection to spread beneath the gum line, and compromise the healthy adult teeth growing below. Until children are a certain age, it’s imperative for parents to teach sustainable healthy habits. Fortunately, we have a tip or two for the whole family!

When it comes to limiting sugar intake, but also being practical enough to live a little (especially during the holidays!) we stress that it’s actually the timing of sugar consumption that affects dental health more than the quantity consumed. That means less sweets eaten throughout longer periods of the day can actually harm your teeth more than a large serving of dessert eaten at once. Additionally, serving sweets along with the meal can also prevent over-exposure, as they are less likely to sit on the teeth for extended periods of time. Bearing these facts in mind, we suggest instead of leaving sweets all over the house, limit consumption until meal time, and then allow yourselves and the kids to enjoy your share of holiday confections!

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

When is it a Dental Emergency?

Dental emergencies are not like other emergencies. It can be hard to know the difference between harassing your dentist or getting in contact because there is a serious time-sensitive issue at hand – particularly if you’re not even sure what the problem is.

The rule of thumb is this: “If it hurts – it’s an emergency.”

If you chipped a tooth, but there’s no pain, it can likely wait until the office’s normal operating hours. Just be sure to take care when chewing as to not worsen the injury. But if it’s fractured or you’re in pain, you may have damaged the soft tissue inside your tooth or “pulp” and that needs to be looked at immediately lest the tooth be compromised.

A knocked out tooth or loose one should be immediately brought to a dental professional to attempt to save. The more time that passes between the initial trauma and attempted dental restoration, the less viable the tooth will be. In cases like this, if the tooth is loose please try to keep it in place by either keeping a finger there or gently biting to minimize movement. If it’s completely knocked out, avoid touching the root and either place it back in the socket (if you can comfortably do so), or store it in a small container or submerged in milk if it’s available. Get to our office immediately to minimize the likelihood of permanent tooth loss.

(Did You Know! Milk can help maintain the correct fluid balance of the root, preserving it longer; water, on the other hand, can cause the cells to swell and die.)

Mouth Trauma

If you have any kind of mouth injury including: punctures, lacerations, tears, or similar to the cheeks/tongue/mouth – this is an emergency. Be careful not to take any pain killers which may be blood thinners, like aspirin or ibuprofen, as this can increase the severity of the injury. Abscesses or infections of the mouth are serious and can be life threatening in some cases. If you are experiencing any of these, it is certainly an emergency. If you are bleeding, dealing with a loose/missing tooth, in severe pain, have been dealt trauma to the mouth, or have swelling – this is a dental emergency. Call a medical professional immediately.

Dental emergencies are not a black and white issue, as is the case with injuries like broken bones. But when it comes to your oral health, pain is never normal, and severe pain means a severe issue. Fortunately, dental emergencies rarely pop up for no reason at all, and as long as you take care of yourself and avoid dangerous situations, they are mostly preventable. If you find yourself at a sport outing and take a rogue ball to the mouth, definitely give us a call. Until then, just keep to your usual oral hygiene routine and don’t worry – if the worst happens, you always have us to set things straight (:

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Early Orthodontic Intervention

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Regarding the usefulness and timing of orthodontic treatment, conventional wisdom tells us to wait until the permanent teeth have erupted for best results. As we are learning, this could not be farther from the truth. Modern research indicates that there is a window of opportunity for effective intervention while the child’s jawbone, teeth, and mouth are still developing. The developmental stages are when the bones and tissues of the mouth are most pliable, ergo most receptive to orthodontic manipulation. We find the best time to intervene is between four and 12 years of age. Essentially, we are taking advantage of the natural growth and plasticity of this stage, instead of fighting the rigidity and strength of a matured mouth.

In addition to the efficacy of early intervention, there are several tangential benefits offered by orthodontic treatment provided at a young age. Restlessness affects people of every age, but most especially growing children. A lack of quantity or quality of sleep can manifest itself in behavioral consequences – such as decreased attention span, lethargy, moodiness, and more. In some cases, we discover that children exhibiting signs of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are actually suffering from restricted airways due to alignment issues in the jaw or teeth, which in turn affects their sleep cycles. In these cases, the use of braces or other appliances can aid in opening the airway, resulting in healthier sleep cycles and resolving the accompanying issues.

The use of orthodontic appliances can take years to achieve beautiful results, with some children wearing them for the better part of their most formative years. With early intervention, we can significantly decrease the necessary time to correct alignment issues, and many times eliminate completely the need for a second round of braces. This means less time wearing braces, less money spent on braces, and it can avoid the need to remove over-crowded teeth by correcting them quickly.

We pride ourselves on offering the most sophisticated treatment plans when it comes to you and your child. Modern methods offer us a broad, new repertoire of tools and avenues for achieving healthy and beautiful results – We love sharing them with our community. Early intervention enables us to efficiently achieve results that are often better than the alternatives available later if treatment is postponed, and in doing so, gives your child a smile to be proud of early in life. If you think your child may be a candidate for early orthodontic treatment – contact us today.

 

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Choose Dental Health NOT Insurance

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Health insurance is a topic familiar to many, and varies from individual to individual. Providers are different, coverage fluctuates, and co-pays change as well. However, it is always important that the health of you and your family remains our number one priority.

Dental Emergency Care

An injured tooth, like any emergency situation, often presents an unexpected expense and financial hardship. It’s important to keep perspective and ensure your primary focus remains the danger it places on your body and health, not your wallet. Dental complications, like many health conditions, are degenerative; meaning, they get worse the longer you ignore treatment. Failing to address an ailment stresses the body and almost always increases the financial cost of treatment as the severity of the damage escalates. Using the example of a broken tooth, what may originally be a quick dental restoration can easily turn into an infection, decay, or cause a loss of the tooth entirely. A lost tooth results in replacement costs, and if those are ignored, can spiral into the migration or infection of the surrounding teeth. It’s easy for simple injuries to spiral into much more serious situations when treatment is neglected.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

You’ve likely heard this before, but clichés are clichés for a reason. The ounce of preventative and immediate treatment can save you a pound of further health problems, and a pound in your wallet. We care about your health and cost effective treatment options. Our office will never surprise you with unexpected bills, and we will always work with you to ensure you understand your treatment, the significance of receiving it, and the costs. If you require a treatment that presents a financial hardship, talk to us. Where possible, we will explore alternate treatment plans or discuss other solutions to ensure you are not placed in a difficult position. We do this while always keeping your health as our number one priority.

When it comes to ensuring the longevity of your health, communication is key. Don’t stay quiet about concerns of any kind – health, financial, or other: we are your health care partner and here to serve you.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

This Is How To Pick A Toothbrush & Floss

We all know to brush our teeth. Check. We all know to floss our teeth. Check (okay, we know some of us skip this step but we’ll let it slide this time). But do we know which type of toothbrush and which dental floss is the best to keep our pearly whites, well, pearly and white? Today we clear the air on this important topic.

Toothbrushes & Brushing

Before getting into all your purchasing options, let’s do a quick brush up (pun intended) on proper brushing techniques to ensure your dental labors are as effective as possible.

When brushing, you don’t want to apply a lot of pressure; plaque is removed with gentle and thorough cleaning. By being too aggressive you are more likely to damage your gum tissue than clean properly. To start, place the head of the brush at a 45-degree angle and point the bristles just into the gum line. This helps disrupt buildup gathering at the base of the tooth. Avoid brushing all your teeth at once; rather, target a group of 3-4 and gently clear the surfaces before moving on to the next set. Be sure to clean all surfaces of the tooth: fronts, backs, chewing surfaces, and the sides of those hard-to-reach molars. Perfect!

Which Toothbrush Is Best?

Electronic toothbrushes are a fantastic option and do a lot to help agitate food particles and really cleanse your teeth. Manual toothbrushes also work well provided they are used effectively with our above tips. For bristles, many make the mistake of purchasing them too tough. The flexibility and gentleness of soft bristles is precisely what you want to clean without damaging. For toothbrush size, just ensure it isn’t too large that it prevents access to those back molars that can be tricky to reach. There is no single toothbrush that is perfect for everyone, so be sure you’re using the one that feels the best to you and will encourage regular use – if you have any questions, we are always here!

Dental Floss & Flossing

Onto floss – but first, the brush up:

When it comes to flossing, you make a C-shape to curve around each tooth as you bring the floss down. The point is not to drag the line straight up and down, which can irritate the gums, but rather to hug the surface of each tooth and clean from the top to the root with a gentle motion. Use about 18” of floss for a fresh portion each pass. Remember to clean both neighboring teeth each time you bring the floss down, and don’t miss any teeth!

Which Floss Is Best?

There are a few variables to keep in mind when finding your ideal floss. First is the thickness of the floss – some people have larger gaps between teeth, and others have very tight spaces that can make it hard to floss. The ideal thickness is one that is comfortable to use, but still thoroughly cleans between each tooth – for tight spaces, try a flat, ribbon-like floss. There are also options like the material the floss is made of, and then waxed versus unwaxed floss. Some suggest waxed floss may be slightly more effective, but whichever choice is most comfortable for you is the choice we recommend. Yes, a lot of our advice is related to your preferences, but if you find a dental product you like with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, you can be sure you’ve found a winner!

In fact, that is our biggest suggestion for when it comes to both brushes and floss: the right option for you is the one you will actually use. If you have more questions, give us a call – we are always happy to ensure our patients feel confident with their oral health and have all the facts.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Keep Calm and Floss On

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On August 2nd, this New York Times article was published and caused quite a bit of controversy in both the dental community and with the general public. While it is not conclusive in its findings, the overarching claim is that flossing may not be as beneficial as once thought. As dental professionals, we take very seriously the responsibility we have ensuring our patients receive the best possible education and care regarding the health of their smiles. For this reason, we feel compelled to express our disagreement with the suggestion that flossing may be overrated, and why that’s a harmful position to propagate.

Let’s first look at the article, which uses a lot of language such as:

  • “…flossing may be
  • “…most of the current evidence fell short…”
  • “That flossing has the same benefit is a hunch that has never been proved.”
  • “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known asgingivitis.”

There is a stark difference between something ‘not having been proved’ and something being ‘disproved’. Please know that there is no evidence remotely close to suggesting the latter. In fact whether the evidence is “mediocre” or not, the only evidence the article does mention (quoted above) is in favor of flossing. A lack of ability to prove something is not cause to discourage an entire population from participating in a highly beneficial component of their health care. This is particularly true because evidence is acquired by conducting large-scale studies, which are extremely costly. It would hardly be economical to spend the research funding to prove something we already have no doubt offers a variety of benefit for your oral and overall health.

We do not agree with the article’s brash call to action, or more accurately, call to inaction, and we fear how this may increase the number of people inflicted with preventable damage to their smile. Looking again at the line “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis.” Gingivitis is the first stage in periodontal disease – the very condition flossing aims to combat. To reduce gingivitis is to reduce your chances of progressing into advanced gum disease, a condition more than half of Americans already suffer from (CDC).

It is unfortunate the scale of damage this article has the potential to incite; too many readers will take this “lack of evidence” as being evidence to the contrary, and feel it gives them permission to neglect a very essential part of their oral health care.

We can only do our best to keep our patients like you educated and on the path to a lifelong happy and healthy smile – a path that certainly includes consistent flossing.

CDC: “Periodontal Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Mar. 2015. Web.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368

Dental Deep Cleaning for Healthy Gums

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What is scaling and root planing? When is it recommended?

As with many aspects of general dentistry, scaling and root planing is a treatment related to keeping your mouth free of gum disease. Your routine appointments and your home care are preventative measures to maintain your oral health; but as nice as it would be to keep your oral health in perfect condition all the time, sometimes that just doesn’t happen. When we identify the onset of gum disease, we work quickly to reverse the condition and get you back on a healthy track. This is where scaling and root planing treatments play a critical role.

Often referred to as periodontal cleaning or deep cleaning, they are all the same form of treatment. The procedure removes dental plaque and tartar, specifically below the visible gum line. The spaces between your gums and teeth are prime breeding ground for bacteria and infection, so without treatment they can deepen and compromise your oral health. There are a variety of tools and methods available for periodontal cleaning, and each is designed to finely clean the dental pockets the gum disease is attacking and deepening. Successfully completed, the build-up collected around the teeth and gums will be removed, and the gums will heal tightly around the teeth for a secure and healthy fit.

Post-Treatment Follow-Up

Scaling and root planing are advantageous procedures if gum disease is present, but what about the importance of following up after you’ve been treated? Despite the fact healing and improvements will be seen immediately following treatment, the actual procedure is only the first step in arresting the periodontal disease. The true efficacy of scaling and root planing is contingent upon a number of variables, including patient compliance.

It is imperative the patient and our office collaborate to prevent the infection from recurring. Infection is often the result of negligent oral care, which will need to be excellent and diligently preformed following treatment. As it takes a significant period of time for the infection and bacteria to build-up, the remedial steps taken after scaling and root planing will not be an overnight solution – time and consistency will be necessary for a full recovery.

Subsequent appointments are often necessary in order to monitor and track the healing progress, and we will discuss the frequency and importance of these with you to ensure your understanding and comfort. Our office will be there to help through each and every step of this process with respect to your unique needs, as well as offer any resources or information necessary to restore your smile to a happy and healthy state.

Dental Health of San Francisco
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: (415) 682-2368