Safest Halloween Treats for Braces

added on: October 9, 2017

Halloween teensThis Halloween season is just like any other — packed with costume preparations, decorating with ghosts and pumpkins, and preparing for a night of trick-or-treating. At our dental office in Modesto, we love all the fun that Halloween brings to our patients and neighbors. But as you may have guessed, we do have some insight on the best treats. In celebration of both Halloween and National Orthodontic Month, we decided to take a different approach to talking about Halloween candy this year and are catering our top choices for braces wearers.

If you have braces, have a child who has braces, or have had braces in the past, you’re well aware that there are some guidelines to what you can safely eat and what’s best to avoid. These guidelines don’t go away for the holidays, unfortunately. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of delicious treats that are safe for braces.

Safe Candy for Braces

When it comes to selecting candy that’s safe for braces, consider if the texture of the treats is sticky, chewy, or hard. If you can label a candy as any of those, it’s best to choose another option. Candy that’s too hard can break brackets whereas sticky and chewy sweets can bend wires. Neither is ideal for successful orthodontic treatment.

The best candy for those with braces are ones that are easy to bite and chew and aren’t sticky. Some safe options include:  

  • 3 Musketeers
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Milky Way
  • Crunch Bar/Krackel Bar
  • Pure Chocolate Bars

Worst Candy for Braces

Now that you know of some safe, yet yummy, Halloween candy options for those with braces, it’s important to also take a look at some that aren’t so great. The following treats are best avoided to reduce the chance of damage to brackets or wires:

  • Hard Candy
  • Gum
  • Caramels
  • Jelly Beans
  • Nuts or anything containing nuts

The team at our Modesto dental office hopes all of our patients and neighbors have a safe and happy Halloween!  

Are Your Work Habits Hurting Your Oral Health?

added on: September 20, 2017

workspace covered in snacksWhether you work a typical 9 – 5, Monday through Friday job, or your schedule typically varies, the truth is Americans spend quite a bit of time at work each week. No matter what your job responsibilities are, several of the most common workplace habits can affect almost every type of occupation. Some of these habits can negatively affect your overall health. In this blog, our dental office in Modesto would like to focus specifically on the top work habits that are most likely to harm your oral health.

Habit #1: Using Teeth as Tools

Teeth are designed for one purpose — to help us chew our food. However, this doesn’t stop us from trying to use our teeth as tools occasionally. Whether you’re trying to open a package or rip off a piece of tape, avoid using your teeth to help. The force placed on teeth during these activities can wear down tooth enamel or even break or chip a tooth. To fix damage like this, your dentist in Modesto will most likely recommend a restorative dentistry treatment.  

Habit #2: Snacking Throughout the Day

Whether you snack on a handful of pretzels, slowly sip your coffee, or nibble on other treats throughout your workday, you’re leaving your teeth constantly exposed to damaging acids. As we eat, bacteria in our mouths feed on the food particles left behind. These bacteria then release acid as a byproduct. Usually saliva helps neutralize and rinse away this acid. But without a break in snacking, your saliva doesn’t have a chance to catch up. This allows the acid to eat away at enamel and leaves teeth at risk for decay.

Habit #3: Taking Smoke Breaks

We all know by now that smoking has been linked to several very serious, sometimes life threatening health issues. Your oral health isn’t any different. Smoking, as well as using smokeless tobacco, increases the risk of oral cancer, gum disease, and tooth loss. We understand that smoking is a hard habit to break, but we know you can do it. Try chewing sugarless gum or talk with your doctor about ways to quit.

Habit #4: Chewing on Pens

Either done out of boredom, stress, or nervousness, chewing on pens or pencils is a workplace habit that affects many people. Sometimes we do it and don’t even realize it. This habit can easily damage teeth by either chipping or breaking them or by wearing away at enamel. Instead of chewing on a pen, try something else that may satisfy the craving but is less dangerous for your smile like eating a few carrots or pieces of celery.

If you find yourself doing any of these habits at work, or perhaps at home, we encourage you to work diligently to stop. Our Modesto dental office is here to help, so call us to schedule your next appointment.

Top 5 Causes of Tooth Pain

added on: September 11, 2017

woman with tooth painWe all know the feeling associated with tooth pain. You take a sip of your hot morning coffee and immediately feel a zing of pain. You clench your teeth and get a sharp jolt that makes you wince. Or perhaps you have a constant toothache that just won’t go away. No matter which type of tooth pain you have, you want to know what’s happening and, more importantly, you want to fix it. The team at our dental office in Modesto is here to provide you with some of the main causes behind tooth pain.

Before we dive into some of the possible reasons your teeth hurt, it’s important to note that any tooth pain is usually a sign that something isn’t quite right in your mouth. It’s best to see your Modesto dentist sooner rather than later to get a proper diagnosis and recommended treatment plan for your individual needs.

Cavities

The first thing you probably consider when experiencing tooth pain is a cavity. And you may be right. Cavities can cause tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods or sharp pain when biting down. Treatment is usually an easy filling. While a cavity is probably the most obvious culprit behind tooth pain, it’s definitely not the only possible explanation.

Gum Infection

Not all tooth pain is a direct result from something in your actual tooth. Some tooth pain can be caused by a problem with the gums. For example, a gum infection can cause pain, swelling, a pimple-like bump on the gums, and may even include pus. Get to your dentist quickly to treat the infection to limit the risk for an abscess.

Gum Recession

Gum recession occurs when your gum tissue starts to pull up and away from your teeth, leaving tooth roots at risk for exposure and pain. Gum recession can be caused by a number of things, but most commonly is a result of brushing too hard. Always brush in gentle, circular motions to reduce your risk of receding gums.

Chronic Tooth Grinding

When someone grinding their teeth, also known as bruxism, they’re placing a lot of constant pressure on both their teeth and their jaw. The repeated grinding motion can wear down teeth and increase risk for decay. It can also lead to severe jaw pain and headaches. Your dental team will be able to recognize the signs of grinding and may recommend a custom nightguard to help reduce grinding impact.

Dental Restorations

You may be thinking to yourself, “Aren’t dental restorations supposed to fix a problem, not cause pain?” And you’d be right. However, occasionally you may experience some mild tooth pain following a dental procedure. Minor sensitivity for a few weeks is normal, but pain when biting may require a minor adjustment in the restoration.  

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, you don’t need to live in agony. In fact, we discourage it. Instead, give our dental office in Modesto a call to schedule an appointment and start getting relief today.

Can Probiotics Help Keep Your Mouth Healthy?

added on: August 28, 2017

woman wearing probiotics tshirtWhen we think of probiotics, we typically think of how they can aid in keeping the stomach healthy. But at our dental office in Modesto, we became aware of how some probiotics can assist oral health, too. Let’s take a closer look at the research that supports the idea that probiotics can help keep mouths healthy.

What Are Probiotics?

Before we dive into learning how probiotics may be beneficial to oral health, we should first identify what probiotics are. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that have historically been noted as being good for gut health. Even though we usually associate bacteria with being bad, there are both good and bad types of bacteria. Probiotics are the good guys.

Not All Probiotics Are the Same

The type of probiotics that are most commonly discussed are ones often found in certain types yogurt and various foods. These probiotics are meant to help the digestive system and can help the body replace beneficial bacteria that the body loses after taking antibiotics. But the probiotics researched in relation to oral health are different.

Oral probiotics, which doesn’t have anything to do with how you ingest them but rather describes the area of the body they help, have been researched to see if they have impact on oral health. Several studies support a positive correlation between specific types of probiotics and reducing the risk of gum disease, plaque, and bad breath.

Bifidobacterium & Lactobacillus

While difficult to say, the benefits of these two probiotic strains are easy to explain. Both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are naturally found in the human body and, more specifically, in the mouths of mammals. Several studies have identified a possible positive effect of these probiotics. While not absolutely conclusive, there is strong evidence that an increase of both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus can help the treatment of periodontal disease and halitosis, and may even reduce the risk of cavities.

Since this research is still in the early stages and no concrete claims have been made, we don’t recommend starting yourself on a probiotics before discussing it with your medical team, including your dentist in Modesto.

If you have questions regarding your oral health, whether those questions include probiotics or not, we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Modesto dental office.

Why Dental Hygiene Visits are About More Than Clean Teeth

added on: August 8, 2017

female dentist in dental chairThere’s no surprise that your bi-annual dental hygiene visit is about getting your teeth a deeper clean than you can get alone at home. The hygienists at our dental office in Modesto are dedicated to removing plaque, flossing in between each and every tooth, and polishing your pearly whites for the ultimate clean. But your visits are about more than just getting your teeth clean. In fact, they’re about much more…

Checking Out Those X-Rays

Sometimes at your cleaning appointment, you’ll receive digital, low-radiation dental x-rays that are used to see what the human eye cannot. Both your hygienist and dentist in Modesto will review these x-rays and check for cavities that are just forming and are still too tiny to see without the help of digital images. X-rays can also help your dental team see problems below the gum line like an abscess or bone loss in the jaw that holds your teeth in place.

Taking a Peek at Your Gums

We already know that your hygienist is taking a good, long look at your teeth during your visits, but she’s also paying quite a bit of attention to your gums. Gum health is critical to keeping mouths and bodies in their best shape. If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, you may be in the beginning stages of gum disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to other whole-body health issues including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Keeping an Eye on More Than Teeth

While your hygienist is working on cleaning your teeth, she’s not only looking for decay, cavities, or gum disease, she’s also searching for any signs of a larger concern. Since there is a correlation between oral health and several serious systemic diseases, some early warning signs of these health issues often first appear in the mouth. Your hygienist is trained to look for any areas of concern in order to catch any problems early when treatment tends to be more successful.

At-Home Care is Important, Too

One of the best ways you can keep your smile healthy in between appointments is to maintain a proper oral hygiene routine at home by brushing and flossing every day. Brushing should be done twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush and flossing should be done once a day to remove food particles and plaque buildup from between teeth.

The team at our Modesto dental office want to encourage our patients and neighbors to visit their dentist at least twice a year. And if you’re family is looking for a dentist, we always welcome you to give us a call.

How Your Exercise Routine is Affecting Your Smile

added on: July 21, 2017

woman exercisingLike any other member of your medical team, the team at our dental office in Modesto are all for exercising. There are plenty of benefits behind regularly hitting the pavement for a run, grabbing the free weights for a strength training program, or joining a gym for group classes. Whichever exercise is your go-to workout, it will increase heart rate, get the blood flowing, and will help keep your whole body healthy… including your mouth. However, when it comes to oral health and exercise, there are a few potential problems.

The Good

Before we launch into talking about a few ways exercise can damage your smile, let’s talk about all the good exercising can do. First and foremost, exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your lungs and heart in tip-top shape, and is overall really great for you. When it comes to how exercise can benefit your oral health, we look to the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) which is a long-term national health study.

Researchers found that those who exercised at a moderate intensity five days a week, or at a high intensity three days a week, were at lower risk for gum disease. This is good news for both your teeth and your whole body. Gum disease usually leads to other oral health problems such as bad breath, swollen & painful gums, and even tooth loss, and has also been linked to whole-body issues including certain cancers, heart disease, and stroke. So avoiding it is best for your overall health as well as the health of your mouth.

So obviously, exercising is good for everyone for plenty of reasons. But just like how working out too much can lead to injuries, it can also contribute to decay and an increase in cavities.

The Bad

We aren’t trying to keep anyone from exercising as we believe the benefits outweigh the risks. But we do feel it’s necessary to talk about how exercising may have a negative effect on oral health so you can know what to try to avoid during your workouts.

There are two main contributors to oral health issues associated with working out. Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are great at helping your body recover after intense exercise. But they’re not so great for your teeth. A lot of the ingredients in sports drinks are known to cause decay and cavities. When you can, choose water during workouts or alternate sports drinks and water to limit your exposure to sugars and acidity found in most sports beverages.

Mouth Breathing

When you’re doing any sort of physical activity that causes you to breathe a bit heavier, it’s common to start breathing with an open mouth. Open mouth breathing decreases saliva production, which not only makes your mouth feel uncomfortably dry, it also makes it the ideal environment for bacteria that damage teeth to thrive.

Still have questions about how exercise can affect your smile? We welcome you to call our dental office in Modesto. We’ll be happy to help.

What Exactly is Occlusion?

added on: July 6, 2017

woman and dentist examine x-rayAt our dental office in Modesto, we’re often asked what certain technical dental terms mean, and we’re always happy to explain them. Which brings us to the topic of the day: Occlusion. What is occlusion? What are we looking at when we talk about it? Why does it matter? We’re glad you asked!

Occlusion Explained

Occlusion is a simply a fancy name to describe the relationship between the way your upper teeth connect with your lower teeth when you chew, bite, or clench down. More commonly, occlusion is explained as your bite.

What Are We Looking At?

When your dentist in Modesto is evaluating your bite, he or she is looking for any areas where the two sets of teeth don’t line up well. A healthy bite is important for proper chewing, and if a bite is “bad,” the force placed on teeth isn’t distributed evenly. This can lead to several problems and the need for restorations or long-term treatment.

How Does a Bite Become “Bad?”

There are times when people develop a bad bite as they lose their baby teeth and their permanent ones erupt. Most commonly, these are classified as overbites, underbites, or crossbites (more on these in a minute). Other individuals see a shift in their once good bite as they get older thanks to accidents, clenching or grinding, or as a result of teeth shifting when a permanent tooth is lost and not replaced.

Signs of a Bad Bite

There aren’t one or two concrete signs of malocclusion (another fancy dental term used to say bad bite). In fact, there are several symptoms that may indicate an issue including:

  • Excessive wear on tooth enamel
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Head or neck pain
  • Pain in the jaw joint
  • Upper teeth that fall behind the lower teeth when the mouth is closed (underbite)
  • Top teeth that cover most or all of the bottom front teeth while biting (overbite)

If you’re experiencing any of these signs, we encourage you to call our dental office in Modesto. Treatment to correct a bite varies from person to person, so it’s best to evaluate your individual situation and recommend a personalized plan.

What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

added on: June 23, 2017

woman sticking out tongueAt my dental office in Modesto, we spend a lot of time getting people to open up and say, “Ah!” It’s because your oral health can tell us a lot about what is going on in the rest of your body. Did you know that your tongue can also provide some pretty interesting clues about you too?

What Are You Looking At?

Your tongue is really quite marvelous and it says a mouthful about oral and overall health. It consists of eight muscles and never ever gets tired. The tongue is constantly at work. At any given moment this super strong muscle could be doing one (or more) of the following with or without you even being aware of it:

  • Helping break down food
  • Helping you speak clearly
  • Filtering out bad germs
  • Pushing saliva down the throat (even during sleep)

What Are You Looking For?

The next time you’re in front of a mirror, go ahead and stick out your tongue. Take a long look and note what you’re seeing. Are there red or white spots? Is it dark and almost hairy in appearance? Is there any redness? What you see could say a lot about what’s going on inside your mouth and inside your whole body. It’s important to keep a keen eye on anything that’s abnormal or feels suspicious so you can let your Modesto dentist do a thorough examination. Here are some examples of what you might find and what it means:

  • White Patches – This could signify an overgrowth of candida (yeast) fungus. It’s common in babies and young children and is easily treated with a prescription anti-fungal rinse or pill.
  • Black/Hairy Appearance – Diabetes, a yeast infection, poor oral hygiene, or cancer therapies could be to blame.
  • White/Red Spots – These obvious spots are actually quite common. They are usually the result of worn down taste buds.
  • Redness – Illnesses like strep throat or deficiencies in B-12, folic acid, and iron can also cause this kind of irritation.
  • Bumps – Large bumps or sores on the tongue are often a sign of canker and cold sores.
  • Webbing or Stripes – This can signal a chronic oral lichen planus which is a chronic condition that occurs when your immune system is attacking cells.

Be on the lookout for anything suspicious or anything your tongue might be trying to tell you. Please call my Modesto dental office and let us take a look. Together we can get to the bottom of the problem and decide what treatment (if any) will get you and your tongue healthy again.

What’s Good and What’s Bad About Bottled Water?

added on: June 13, 2017

rows of bottled waterThese days you can’t go very far without seeing bottled water, whether you’re scanning the aisles at your favorite supermarket, cheering on your kids at their latest sporting event, or perhaps packing for a trip to your favorite vacation destination. Our dental office in Modesto wants you and your family to stay healthy and hydrated, which may mean drinking more bottled water. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the getting water from the bottle vs. the tap.

The Pros: Why is Bottled Water So Popular?

  1. It’s Readily Available

Bottled water is an excellent solution for having delicious drinking water anytime, anywhere. It’s portable and travels easily in briefcases, purses, gym bags, backpacks, and more. Sometimes, given your surroundings (i.e. camping or in a foreign country) it’s easier to have a bottle of water with you. It’s also able to be purchased conveniently.

  1. Easy to Store and Delicious to Drink

In the event of a disaster or other emergency, your dentist in Modesto knows that having bottled water on hand is definitely helpful and it can be a lifesaver depending on the circumstances. Because bottled water does not expire, it’s always a good idea to keep some stored away, just in case. Depending on the condition of your tap water, bottled H20 also tends to taste better too. This usually due, in part, to the purification process certain types of bottle water must undergo during the preparation process.

The Cons: What’s So Bad About Bottled Water?

  1. It Could Cost You More Money

Because there are so many additional necessary steps to ensure bottled water is safe to drink (purification, packaging, transporting, marketing, etc.), it can tend to be a bit more pricey than the water flowing from your tap.

  1. There Could Be Some Health Risks

Our Modesto dental office wants you to know about the possible health risks associated with bottled water. Did you know commercially produced bottled water does not contain fluoride, while tap water does? Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps keep teeth strong and healthy. It’s especially important that kids get enough fluoride for their growing teeth. Some plastic bottles also contain the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) which can seep into the water before you drink it. This risk increases significantly if your water is stored somewhere hot in direct sunlight.

We hope you learned a little bit about some of the benefits and some of the potential downfalls to drinking bottled H20! No matter what kind of water you choose either for yourself or your family, it’s always very important to stay hydrated each and every day. This helps your body function a peak performance, you feel good, and look great on the outside too! Do you have any questions about what we talked about in our blog? Give us a call or ask us your questions at your next visit!

Negative Effects of Nail Biting

added on: May 16, 2017

young woman biting nails while studyingNail biting is a bad habit that often begins early in life as a response to stress or boredom, or sometimes as a subconscious reaction to nervousness. While the habit tends to fade as we get older, it’s estimated that about 30% of people continue to gnaw on their nails into adulthood. At our dental office in Modesto, we know that nail biting is more than a bad habit. To us, it’s about all of the negative effects nail biting can have on teeth and overall oral health.

Risks to Overall Health

Your nails are one of the areas on your body where you can find tons of germs and bacteria. Usually wedged in between the nail and the skin of your finger, these germs and bacteria can be pretty harmful if ingested into your system. When someone puts their finger in their mouth and bites away at the nail, it’s an easy way for these bacteria to be released into the body which could lead to some serious illnesses.

Negative Effects on Oral Health

Besides the risk to overall health, nail biting can wreak havoc on teeth and gums. Your dentist in Modesto will tell you that chronic nail biting has been linked several oral health issues including chipped, cracked, or worn down teeth, damage to the gum tissue, and bruxism. Bruxism, more commonly known as tooth grinding, can lead to headaches, recessed gums, tooth sensitivity, and even tooth loss.

Tips on How to Stop

Like any habit, stopping nail biting can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Trying to retrain yourself to quit nibbling on your nails takes a conscious effort. These tips can help.

  • Paint your nails with an ill-tasting lacquer designed specifically for nail biters
  • Find another release for stress like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or exercise
  • Check out close up photos of the bacteria that live under nails to remind you of what you could be putting in your mouth whenever you bite — spoiler alert: it’s gross!
  • Keep nails trimmed as short as possible to give yourself less to bite

Start by trying one of the above methods to quit biting your nails. If it doesn’t work for you, try another one. It may take persistence but once you quit biting your nails, your overall health and oral health will thank you.

In the meantime, if you happen to chip or crack a tooth, have gum damage, or suspect bruxism we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Modesto dental office. We’ll diagnose the damage and talk with you about the most appropriate treatment for you.

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