Neglecting Dental Care is Madness

Are you feeling lucky? Do you think you can fill out a perfect March Madness bracket? The odds are 1 in 9 quintillion. March Madness is known for last second game winners and unexpected wins. Games will have your heart beating quickly and have you on your feet to see what’ll happen next.

We all know about the thrillers and defeat that takes place during the tournament. But what we don’t know is what happens behind the scenes. Some injuries are kept quiet; such as dental injuries. If a player were to go down with a torn ACL, ruptured Achilles, or sprained ankle it’s well broadcasted. The University of California conducted a study about dental injuries in sports and found that basketball players suffered the highest amount of dental damage compared to all other intercollegiate sports.

Believe it or not, basketball is considered a ‘non-contact’ sport. Mouth guards are only required in contact sports such as football, hockey, and boxing. The American Dental Association says that 1/3 of dental injuries are because of sports. The three most common types of tooth injuries are: cracked teeth, fractured roots, and tooth intrusions.

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While playing basketball it is common to catch an unexpected elbow to your face and mouth this can cause you to chip or lose teeth. During games, it’s important to communicate with your teammates which can be challenging while wearing a mouth guard. This is a possible reason why a mouth guard isn’t popular for basketball players. The University of California study also reveals that only 7% of collegiate basketball players use a mouth guard.

 

Basketball has a variety of protective gear for players. There are high top shoes to help support your ankle along with ankle braces. There are also padded compression shorts and shirts that are worn under your jersey to protect your body from any unpredictable falls. In a way, padded compression clothing is similar to a mouth guard. Both protect your body from experiencing the full force of a hit helping prevent greater injuries which can be expensive and time consuming to heal.

There are three different types of mouth guards: custom-made, Boil and Bite, and stock. A custom-made mouth guard is seen as the most comfortable and offers the best protection. They need to be manufactured by your dentist or in a specialized lab.  Most athletes prefer to have a custom fit one but one downside is they can be a pricey investment. You can think of the Boil and Bite as DIY custom fit mouth guards. The plastic pre-formed shape can be found in sporting stores. You simply boil it then bite into it for a custom fit. Stock mouth guards are the most inexpensive but don’t fit well and aren’t very comfortable. They can be bulky making breathing and talking a challenge.

The loss of a tooth or multiple teeth is not the only thing at risk for basketball players. Tooth loss can also cause bone damage to your jaw and tissues and rip your gum or lip. Their injuries can often lead to implants or root canals.

Over the years, wearing mouth guards have gained popularity throughout the sport. Top NBA stars like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry are known to wear mouth guards while playing. Did you know they have flavored mouth guards for better a better taste?

Injuries are unpredictable but the best way to protect yourself is by taking precautions. As we now know the importance of wearing mouth guards lets share our knowledge. Hopefully, we will begin to see more star athletes and players wearing them. Change always starts small! So we encourage you and your family to play with your health in mind!

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It’s going to be a heart-wrenching month of basketball. Here’s to our teams conquering the title or to us for that 1 in 9 quintillion!

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

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Know and Love Your Smile

Do you know where smiling comes from? We have not drifted far from where the smile first started; today we often received or give smiles to strangers in passing. Chimpanzees were known to have a “fear grin” that told others they were harmless. Many of our traits are quite similar to them including our smile. Smiles bring us comfort and make us happier.

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From a young age, we have been told, “smile for the camera.” How many times have you heard “say cheese” while posing for a picture? How often have you said it? Now think back to old historic pictures, have you ever wondered why nobody is smiling in the pictures? One reason is their horrible teeth or lack of. Oral health was not a part of their daily routine. Fortunately, we live in a time where dentistry is prominent. Technology has advanced and quality dental care is readily available. Take advantage of dentistry and love your smile!

Smiling more brings positive emotion to your life. It’s easier to smile than frown and it’s also the universal sign of happiness. Babies are born with the ability to smile, and the most recognizable facial expression that can be seen from up to 300 feet away.

Your brain can tell immediately whether someone’s smile is genuine or not. It compares the geometry of a face to a standard smile. Our minds evaluate the situation and determine whether or not a smile is expected.  After our mind makes a conclusion about someone else’s smile then it automatically mimics their smile. Smiling is contagious!

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Smiling not only brings comfort to others but also ourselves. Try smiling throughout the day and here’s why:

  • Even a fake smile is a mood booster
  • Helps to relieve stress
  • Smiling makes you more approachable
  • Smiling gets the creative and productive juices flowing

“Laughter is the best medicine” is a well-known phrase and for all the right reasons. There are short and long term benefits to smiling and laughing. Short term, it can stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles. In the long run in can improve your immune system, be a natural painkiller, boost your interpersonal skills, and help make you feel livelier.  Source: mayoclinic

Would you rather approach someone who’s smiling at you or mugging you? Of course we choose the smiling person because we’re social creatures. We want acceptance and approval.  If we are in a funk and someone smiles at us, it can instantly change our mood turning our bad day into a good one.

The more you smile; your brain will create more positive patterns than negative ones. Our brains are naturally negative. Smiling more trains our brains to be positive. Creativity and productivity will increase and we can produce better work in our everyday lives. Source: fast company

How often do you smile? You can flash your lovely smile at someone, make their day, and yours too. Remember to love your smile! Treat your smile with the care it deserves, schedule your appointment today.

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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

Amalgam Fillings: Should They Be Replaced?

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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.

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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

Pre-Medication for Dental Work After Joint Replacement

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What is pre-medicating? What do artificial joints have to do with dental treatment? Why is this related to my oral health and not just overall health?

Good questions! Although artificial joints can seem like a far cry from concerns with your dental health, the two are more related than one may think. When it comes to artificial joints, there is an increased risk of infection due to the inorganic material in the body that should be taken into consideration. This is true from the time of placement, but it may also play a role with future medical treatments. It has long been suggested that pre-medicating should be a standard prerequisite to dental and other procedures, but what is pre-medicating and why would it help?

Pre-Medication Before Dental Procedures

Pre-medicating is the act of giving medication prior to a medical or dental procedure, which is done with the intention of staying ahead of potential infection problems. The theory is that bacteria from the mouth can enter the blood stream, and those with artificial joints are already more susceptible to infection. Pre-medication is meant to help mitigate this risk prior to the procedure to keep your overall health in check from start to finish.

Sounds simple – what’s the dilemma?

Your replacement joints may not affect treatments at all! Many question pre-medication as it does not appear to be necessary. In fact, the ADA directly states “In general, for patients with prosthetic joint implants, prophylactic antibiotics are not recommended prior to dental procedures to prevent prosthetic joint infection.” There is evidence that dental procedures are not associated with prosthetic joint implant infections, along with the fact that there is evidence to suggest that there are potential harms in taking medication when not completely necessary. As such, the risks do not outweigh the benefits of pre-medication. In individual cases, there may be exceptions; however, as a rule pre-medication is not a necessary prerequisite for effective dental treatments.

Please be sure to let us know if you have artificial joints, or any out of the ordinary medical circumstances. We will be sure to take them into consideration when it comes to developing your treatment plan. For the most part, your artificial joints will not require special treatment on your end – we can treat you as we would any other patient to keep your smile looking sharp!

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

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