Amalgam Fillings: Should They Be Replaced?

BlogTitle_Amalgam

What is a filling?

Receiving a dental filling is a common procedure that many people have personally experienced. As a bit of a background, a filling becomes necessary when a tooth is damaged by decay and needs to be restored and protected. The function of a filling is to both seal off any spaces where bacteria could enter, and to reshape the tooth to its original form and function. Fillings are an invaluable part of dental work because they offer both a solution for present damage, and act as preventative guards against potential future damage.

A variety of materials are used to create fillings: gold, porcelain, a composite resin, or an amalgam (commonly referred to as silver fillings) are all common choices. There is no ‘best’ type of filling, and the right option for you is truly dependent on your individual case and personal preference.

Why remove a filling?

There are a few different reasons one may want to replace a filling, including a more natural look. Porcelain and composite resins look the most natural and are placed to match your tooth color, and it is not uncommon for those with gold and silver fillings to request these more subtle options. Each type of filling has its own lifespan, which can range from just a few years to several decades, so sometimes a routine replacement may also be in order.

BeforeAndAfter Img

However, in addition to appearance and time, there is also a debate surrounding the use of amalgam fillings.

What is the amalgam filling debate?

By definition, the word ‘amalgam’ is synonymous with the words ‘mixture’ or ‘blend’. As an example, a smoothie would be considered an amalgam of fruits!

In the dental world, ‘amalgam’ as it is used to describe a filling indicates it is a mixture of materials – this means that silver fillings are not pure silver, they have other similar materials in them as well. The proposed problem with these fillings is that the material could contain toxic or harmful matter that could negatively affect your health.

Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple. The biggest concern expressed by those opposed to amalgam fillings is the potential exposure to mercury, and patients potentially being poisoned as a result. That does sound awful, until you consider that we are all exposed to some level of mercury. Mercury is present in fish! A person would have to eat a lot of fish before there was any risk of poisoning, and the same could be said about a small tooth filling that is mostly made of silver. On the other hand, we understand if you have concerns about the material used in your filling.

If you already have an amalgam filling, it’s important to note that removing a filling when not completely necessary is an extra procedure, and with any medical procedure there are always risks involved. If you are getting a new filling and are uncomfortable with the idea of amalgam, just let us know and we can find an option that is right for you. There are many choices when it comes to your filling material, and we want you to walk out of our office feeling confident with your smile and your health.

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

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Deep Cleaning: What it means to you

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You’re a good person – you pay your taxes, pick up litter, and make it to the dentist every 6 months. Now you’re being told you may need a deep cleaning…but don’t you clean your teeth every day? And isn’t a deep cleaning what the dentist always does? Not quite, although we know it can sometimes feel that way.

A regular dental cleaning is what you are accustomed to receiving every 6 months. The intention of this visit to the dentist is to maintain your healthy gums and give your teeth a little extra attention when it comes to matters of plaque and tartar, which can be difficult to remove fully with a toothbrush and floss alone. The odds are that if you are brushing and flossing every day, and taking any other steps recommended by your doctor, a regular dental cleaning is the perfect addition to your regular care that will keep your smile happy and healthy.

Deep cleaning, a necessity?

A deep cleaning, on the other hand, is what becomes necessary when the health of your teeth and gums become jeopardized by gum disease (or ‘periodontitis’). To put it in perspective, your gums are supposed to have tight and healthy seals around your teeth to protect them and keep them firmly in place. A standard part of your regular cleaning is your doctor using a diagnostic tool called a ‘periodontal probe’ to ensure this is the case; the probe is used to measure the depth of the space between your gums and teeth. Typically 1-3mm is considered normal, and there should be very little or no bleeding at all. Upwards of 4mm is a sign that you are developing ‘pockets’, which are a space between the teeth and gums that becomes prime breeding ground for bacteria and tartar buildup. Plaque that is not brushed and flossed away left on the teeth for more than 24 hours can become tartar, which only your dentist can remove. Left unattended, these pockets can deepen and compromise the tooth and the surrounding bone structure. If the dentist uses the probe and measures 4mm or more, and/or there is significant bleeding and signs of inflammation, then a deep cleaning will be scheduled to help you get your smile back on track.

Deep cleaning is not a scary process.

Oftentimes, your dentist will break the cleaning into two separate visits to most effectively treat your mouth, this is especially important if your entire mouth needs attention so that you’ll be numbed in only smaller sections of your mouth each time, making for a completely comfortable process and quick recovery. The most common forms of treatment are ‘scaling’ and ‘root planing’. The process of scaling involves using a professional tool to remove plaque and tartar from both the surface of the teeth, and the pocket area that has been created between your teeth and gums. A scaling instrument, on the other hand, removes plaque and tartar from the surface of the root of your teeth, which is below the gum line and not visible. These tools are the only thing that can removed built up plaque, as even floss cannot reach far into deepened pockets. The good news is they do a wonderful job of cleaning up any tartar that has built up beneath the visible surface.

Periodontitis is a progressive disease, and left unattended can turn into a much more serious problem. Fortunately, the treatment is typically straight forward and as long as you follow the doctor’s aftercare instructions, the bacteria should be reduced to manageable levels and your gums should return to normal and lose any signs of redness. If you are feeling pain or sensitivity in your teeth, have red and/or puffy gums, or are experiencing bleeding during normal brushing and flossing – call us. The sooner periodontitis is identified the easier it is to treat and the less expensive it is for you, if you have any concerns about your oral health just remember that a professional evaluation is never harmful and may offer you some great information.

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

The Dangers of Crunchy Munchies

Blog Title-Hard Candy2

Easter means many things to different families everywhere, but one thing that remains consistent is the appearance of candy! Whether it’s hidden in eggs or just passed around, it comes at a nice nearly halfway mark in the year from Halloween. Sweets make for some excellent treats, and there is no reason not to indulge (in moderation of course)! However, all candies are not created equal, and it may be worth knowing which ones you can have relatively guilt free, and which could spell trouble for your wonderful smile.
When it comes to Easter indulgences, chocolate may make it onto the nice list – we know, this is great news to many of you. The less forgiving candies are the ones that make that all-too-familiar CRUNCH! Hard candies, like lollipops or jolly ranchers, can be an awfully tempting treat to bite. But best case scenario is they can pack hard-to-reach pieces of sugar into your gums that end up sitting there, as saliva can have a difficult time breaking them down. Worst case scenario, that crunch sound may be coming from a broken tooth, and sending you straight from your Sunday activities into our office.
We do love seeing our patients, but not at the expense of their healthy smile! It happens more often than you think, and it’s not just because of the sugar – even some who are prone to absentmindedly crunching on ice have discovered the dangers of biting down on crunchy munchies when they find a piece of their tooth broken off. Your teeth are durable for normal eating and chewing, but anything that causes too much stress can run the risk of chipping or breaking one of your pearly whites. Before you try to impress your friends with breaking that jaw breaker in half, remember that it’s earned that name for a pretty good reason.
Even if you resist that satisfying crunch, there are still a few other points of concern for hard candies that you don’t run into with other options (like chocolate!). Hard candies that you suck on tend to spend a concentrated period of time in a single location, which over-exposes particular areas of your mouth to sugar and lead to a very concentrated build-up of acid, which can be a quick way to damage the enamel. Consider this next time you find yourself unwrapping that tootsie pop or after-meal mint, and perhaps enjoy a stick of gum instead. It’s not often that the solution for a sweet treat is yet another sweet treat, but you’re in luck because this time it is! After enjoying your holiday treats, consider enjoying a piece of sugar-free gum – the increased saliva productions while chewing can actually help dislodge and break down the remaining sugar in your mouth.
Overall, we don’t want to take the enjoyment out of candy-filled holidays – enjoy your time with your friends and family, and definitely don’t be afraid to pop open that plastic egg and see what treats hide inside. If you do find yourself going crazy for the crunchy candies, we hope you chew safely…and if things go wrong, you always have your friends at our office to set things straight (:

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

Effects of Osteoporosis on your Oral Health

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Osteoporosis isn’t a new discovery, or a disease unheard of by many. That being said, many people don’t realize how closely tied to your oral health it can actually be.
In short, osteoporosis is caused by an insufficient consumption of calcium and vitamin D. It affects the bones, making them less dense and thus more likely to break. Osteoporosis is directly tied to your long-term dental health as this weakening of the bones may heavily compromise the jaw bone. A weakened jawbone can have a host of detrimental consequences for your teeth, including increased tooth mobility, or complete tooth loss.
The best cure for the degradation of the jawbone is avoiding it all together with a balanced diet high in vitamin D and calcium, and getting a sufficient amount of exercise. Barring that, be sure to attend your dental appointments regularly so that way the structure and health of your mouth can be monitored, and any problems that may develop are addressed immediately and not permitted to deteriorate.
As it is, due to hormone imbalances and changes over life, women are most at risk to developing osteoporosis, but it can absolutely develop in either gender depending on a host of lifestyle variables, not limited to diet and exercise.
Symptoms to pay attention to that may be indicative of osteoporosis affecting the jaw include: pain and/or swelling in the gums or jaw, as well as infection; injured gums not healing in a timely fashion; teeth that become loose for no reason or after only minor strain; numbness or discomfort in the jaw; or at worst, exposed bone. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate contacting your dentist to prevent exacerbating the issue.

Fast Food During The Holidays

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During the hectic holiday season, fast food is an easy go-to. We already know that sweets and sugary desserts are not good for our teeth or our waistlines. However, even the savory fast foods can wreak havoc on our teeth!
Some problems that may arise are:
– Acid erosion
– Staining
– Decay
Refined carbohydrates such as in white based pizza sauces and pastas, contain simple sugars that are able to quickly dissolve, causing acid that attacks tooth enamel.
Heavily pigmented foods such as certain spices and sauces within Chinese and Indian foods, as well as tomato based sauces, contain properties that can easily stain your teeth. It has been suggested that if you are going to be eating any of these foods, that you begin your meal with a green vegetable such as spinach or broccoli. Green veggies form a protective film on the surface of your teeth that creates a less porous surface for staining foods to be able to adhere to. Therefore, your teeth have a slight barrier to stop those yummy sauces and spices from staining your teeth!
Starchy and fried foods (probably the worst items to consume health-wise) also stick to your teeth very easily. These foods are highly processed with lots of preservatives, none of which are good for your teeth.
Even when you think you are reaching for a healthy pre-made sandwich; take a look at the ingredients contained within it. Some contain hidden sugars and calories, as well as an overload of salt. High amounts of salt, sugar and calories not only cause harm to your tooth surfaces and enamel, they can also contribute to high blood pressure or even a stroke! So the next time you reach for what you think may be the “smart option” take a little peak at the ingredients, especially those contained in the spreads or sauces. If there are high amounts of sugar or salt, you may want to consider a different option.
Large amounts of meat or tough-to-chew foods also need to be consumed in moderation. Even though the protein is good for you, when you over-indulge in chewy and tough meats, you can negatively impact your jaw joints or even cause misalignment of your jaw as well as headaches, and tooth aches. While you eat these types of foods, try to distribute them equally on the chewing surfaces within your mouth, alternating which side you are chewing on.
The convenience of fast foods is great! It’s always nice to be able to quickly grab something to satisfy your appetite. Perhaps after reading this, we can all be a little bit more mindful when we go to grab a quick bite. Take a couple extra minutes to choose what you are going to eat. A well balanced diet is a healthy diet. If you are going to consume fatty and sugar-filled foods, do so in moderation. Consider more healthful choices like fresh veggies and lean meats with a side of water! Then when you get to your sweet treat, it won’t be so detrimental to your teeth! So remember; always, always brush your teeth twice a day, be sure to regularly floss and schedule regular dental check-ups! Bon appétit!

7 Serious Health Concerns That Also Affect Your Teeth

Mouth and Body Go Hand-in-Hand

Did you know that poor oral health care can be the cause of many different health issues within your body itself?  There are many connections between taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums and the rest of your body.

People with gum disease have a 40% increased risk of developing a chronic health condition. Bacterial build up on your teeth and gums give you a greater probability of infection which may then spread throughout other areas of your body.

Common Health Issues That Affect Oral HealthJune FB Candy (6)

  • Diabetes: causes oral inflammation and affects the body’s ability to process sugar.
  • Heart Disease: about 91% of those with heart disease are also found to have periodontitis. Inflammation in the mouth corresponds with the inflammation of blood vessels which then leads to less blood flow causing an increase in blood pressure.  There is also a chance of plaque that is attached to the blood vessel itself, breaking off and traveling to the heart and/or brain resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
  • Issues during Pregnancy: pregnant women with gum disease run the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and susceptible to developmental issues such as learning disorders, lung and heart conditions.
  • Osteoporosis: osteoporosis, like periodontitis, causes bone loss. It’s common for those with osteoporosis to also have some degree of gum disease.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: those with rheumatoid arthritis battling gum disease have found gum disease treatment may also reduce overall body pain in regards to their arthritic symptoms.
  • Smoking: bad for your health, both overall and oral.  Nicotine interferes with your gums’ ability to fight infection.  This also extends the recovery period for those gum infection treatments.
  • Obesity: those with 20% or higher body fat percentage have been linked to rapid progression of gum disease.

Taking excellent care of your oral health has a positive domino effect for the rest of your body.  Same can be said with your body – taking care of your health and body can positively affect your mouth, teeth and gums.
If you care about your health and yourself, you in-turn need to care about your mouth.  Be true to your teeth, or they will be false to you!

Dental Health of San Francisco

2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122

Phone: (415) 682-2368

How Focusing on These 3 Points Will Help You Spring Out of the Winter Blues!

March Blog

Happy Spring 2015

As we move out of winter, you may be changing your frame of mind from “Snuggly winter days…” to “Time for spring cleaning!” Have you ever considered a dental spring cleaning?  If you can spring clean your home, why not your teeth?!  Here are three easy points to focus on:

  1. Healthy eating
  2. Tooth care
  3. Dental check-up

Healthy Eating

When your tummy rumbles, instead of reaching for a bag of chips, grab some veggie sticks or slice up an apple!  We understand the convenience of snack foods as well as the deal you get when purchasing a bulk pack.  But most of these things lack nutritional value and do not fare well on your body, health or mouth.  Create a goal to reach for a healthy snack to fill the nutritional craving your body is after.  Your waistline and teeth will thank you!

Foods that are high in sugar wreak havoc on your teeth contribute to the start of cavities.  Food consistency also plays a role in oral health. Very hard foods can harm the surfaces of your teeth, and there’s also the potential to cause significant damage by cracking or chipping a tooth!

Reach For                                                       Pass On

Fruits Sodas
Veggies Candy
Whole Grains Chips
Nuts Ice Cream
Skinless Chicken Sugary Cereals
Non-Breaded Fish Hard and Sticky Foods
Low Fat/ Fat Free Yogurt Cookies
Low Fat/ Fat Free Cheese Cakes/ Pies

Tooth Care

  • Are you attentively brushing your teeth twice a day for 2-minutes?
  • Are you flossing daily (or at all)?
  • Have you changed your toothbrush in the last 3 months?

When brushing your teeth spend the full 2 minutes taking care to cover the front and back of each individual tooth. Before finishing up – give your tongue a once over as well! Many toothbrushes have a built in tongue brusher on the back of the toothbrush head.  Toothbrushes do wear out.  They can fray and lose the sturdiness to properly clean your teeth.  Toothbrushes should be replaced about every three months.

Flossing

Flossing cleans about 40% of your teeth surfaces.  Remember to reach your very back teeth.  Flossing helps to lessen plaque build-up and helps prevent gum disease.

Dental Check-up

Remember how great your mouth feels after a dental cleaning in our office?  Now that the holidays have come to a close, your teeth may be in need of a professional cleaning.  Call Dental Health of San Francisco for a dental check-up and cleaning.  Check-ups are recommended every 6 months unless you are experiencing a problem area in your mouth.  And, if that is the case, call us as soon as possible.  Whenever you are in pain or have a question, call us.

Now that you have these things fresh on your mind, you are ready to take charge of spring!  And you can do so with a bright shining and CLEAN smile!

References:

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/still-not-flossing-more-reasons-why-you-should

Dr. N. “William” Quach
Dr. Chalene Chen
2407 Noriega Street
San Francisco, CA 94122-4241
(415) 682-2368