“What’s it Mean When My Dentist Pokes My Gums and Says Numbers?”

added on: May 8, 2017

young lady in dental chair looking upIf you’ve ever been to your dentist in Modesto and experienced several gentle pokes to your gums followed by hearing some numbers, you’ve had what’s called a periodontal charting. This charting is helpful when evaluating overall oral health and can give your dental team some insight to a proper treatment plan.

What’s Periodontal Charting Do?

What we do at our dental office in Modesto during periodontal charting is measure gum tissue around each tooth. There are six sides per tooth to measure, that’s why you’ll hear so many numbers being called out.

What Do The Numbers Mean?

During the measuring process, you’ll hear us say numbers ranging from 1 to 7, and sometimes more. These numbers reflect how deep your gum pockets are in millimeters. Anything between 1 and 3 is a good indicator that your gums are healthy. However, if you bleed during the process, your gums may be in beginning stages of a more severe problem, even if your measurements are between the target of 1 and 3. Higher measurements than 3 could be a sign of a serious concern. Explore the guidelines below to see what’s commonly interpreted from each depth.

  • 3 mm – 5mm with no bleeding: Gum pockets of this depth could indicate a likelihood of gum disease.  
  • 3 mm – 5 mm with bleeding: It’s very likely that gums with these measurements have early gum disease.
  • 5 mm – 7 mm with bleeding: Besides almost certain gum disease, bone loss and tissue damage are also possible.  
  • 7 mm+ with bleeding: Pockets deeper than 7 mm means advanced gum disease is certain. Surgical intervention may be appropriate to resolve the disease.

If your measurement are any of the above, it may be recommended that you have professional cleanings at least every 3-4 months in order to improve both your gum health and overall oral health. If they’re deeper than 7 mm, surgery may be required.

Other Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious problem that can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to several whole-body concerns including heart disease and stroke. Besides having periodontal charting complete, you should look for other signs of gum disease like bleeding gums, chronic bad breath, or receding or tender gums.

If you notice any signs of gum disease, call our Modesto dental office to schedule an appointment. We’ll evaluate your overall oral health and determine the most appropriate treatment plan to get your smile in its best shape ever.

The Oral Health Dangers of Smokeless Tobacco

added on: April 21, 2017

chewing tobaccoApril is recognized as Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and while many people know the risks associated with smoking tobacco, the team at our dental office in Modesto want to make sure our patients and neighbors know that just because smokeless tobacco is, well, smokeless, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its own fair share of risks.

Oral Cancer

The most serious concern associated with smokeless tobacco use is oral cancer. Oral cancer is a serious disease that affects the lives of nearly 50,000 newly diagnosed people every year. If not caught early, oral cancer can lead to death. While anyone can get oral cancer, tobacco use (of any kind) is the top risk factor for developing the disease.

Know the Signs

  • Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
  • Changes in voice
  • A white, scaly patch on the inside of the cheek or lip
  • A lump inside the mouth or neck

If you notice any of the signs above, contact your dentist in Modesto to schedule an appointment as soon as you can.

Gum Recession

Chewing tobacco can also cause gums to recede, mostly because the tobacco (and everything else found in it) is left on the gums for prolonged periods of time which irritates the tissues. Once gums have receded, the tooth roots become exposed, and that’s when the problems start. Without the protection of the gums, the roots are at increased risk for sustaining damage from foods, drinks, and more tobacco. Not only does this make cavities more likely, it also tends to lead to tooth sensitivity, which can be pretty painful.

Tooth Discoloration

Thanks to the ingredients found in all forms of tobacco, specifically tar and nicotine, tobacco users tend to suffer from a yellow smile. The good news is this discoloration can be reversed through a professional smile whitening or cosmetic dentistry treatment like veneers. But if a patient continues to use tobacco after treatment, the teeth can be easily stained again.  

Regular visits to the dentist are important for everyone, but especially for tobacco users, smokeless or not. If you’re looking for a dentist, we welcome you to call our Modesto dental office to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help keep our patients healthy and we’re always happy to see new patients. Give us a call today.

Welcoming new patients from Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond. 

All About Frenectomies

added on: April 6, 2017

frenectomyFrenectomies aren’t all that common in adults, but there are specific instances when the team at our Modesto dental office may recommend one to an adult patient. But why exactly would a frenectomy be needed, and what is it? We’re here to talk all about frenectomies and the benefits behind getting one.

Anatomy 101

Let’s have a quick lesson on the mouth’s anatomy, specifically the thin, taut pieces of muscle called frena (frenum when referring to one). There are two of these little muscles that are the common culprits behind needing a frenectomy: the lingual frenum and the maxillary labial frenum. First, the lingual frenum is the tight piece of tissue that connects the underside of your tongue to the floor of your mouth. The maxillary labial frenum can be felt if you run your tongue under your top lip in front of your teeth. When either one of these muscular attachments affect proper function, a frenectomy may be recommended.

What is a Frenectomy?

A frenectomy is a fairly simple dental procedure that removes or shortens the frenum that’s causing trouble. First, the area is numbed for comfort. Then, your Modesto dentist will cut the frenum away from either the upper gum line or the base of the mouth. After sealing the cut with stitches, you should be all set. Some dentists can even perform a frenectomy with a laser, eliminating the need for stitches.

How Can a Frenectomy be Beneficial?

Benefits of a frenectomy can vary depending on which frenum is causing the trouble. A lingual frenum frenectomy is recommended if the frenum is too long and extends out too close to the tip of the tongue. When this happens, speaking, swallowing, and eating can be difficult. A frenectomy can help with all of those. This type of frenectomy is usually caught early and is typically performed on young children.

A frenectomy on the maxillary labial frenum is the procedure that’s usually reserved for those with permanent adult teeth. The most common complaint from individuals where this type of treatment is appropriate is a gap between the front two teeth. Usually, patients who are unhappy with a gap in their smile undergo orthodontic treatment, and that can help squeeze the teeth tightly together. However, once orthodontic treatment is complete, there’s a chance those two front teeth can separate once again. If this happens, it could mean the maxillary labial frenum is too long and is actually pulling those two teeth apart. A frenectomy can resolve that issue once and for all.

If you think a frenectomy may be appropriate for you, we welcome you to call our dental office in Modesto. We’ll be happy to help.

Welcoming new patients from Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond. 

“Do I Really Need to Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?”

added on: March 15, 2017

wisdom teethWisdom teeth are often first seen on x-rays conducted during regular appointments at our Modesto dental office. Most often, we can see them as they’re beginning to erupt through the gums. It’s also when we’re most likely to recommend that they be removed. In fact, about 90% of Americans get their wisdom teeth taken out. But why can’t they just stay there?

“It’s Crowded in Here!”

The #1 reason wisdom teeth need to be removed is that there isn’t enough room in your mouth for these four back molars, or “third molars,” to fit. We can typically tell if this will be factor from your x-rays. This is one reason regular visits to your dentist in Modesto are so important. If your wisdom teeth erupt and there’s no room in your mouth, they can become “stuck” in your bone. When this happens, your wisdom teeth are referred to as being impacted. Surgery to extract impacted wisdom teeth can be more complicated, so it’s best if we avoid it by catching any potential problems and removing the teeth early.

Bacteria Love Them

If your wisdom teeth do fully erupt and don’t appear to be causing any problems, meaning there’s no overcrowding, pain, or changes in the function of your bite, they may still need to come out. Why? Wisdom teeth are hard to brush and floss properly, which puts you at increased risk for cavities and gum disease. If any potential problem is lurking in the dark corners of your wisdom teeth, extraction may be recommended in order to keep your smile healthy.

When to Leave Them Alone

It’s rare, but sometimes wisdom teeth grow in just fine and there’s no reason to have them removed. If your wisdom teeth are healthy, positioned so as to not inhibit proper bite or neighboring teeth, and are able to be cleaned properly, it may be best to leave them alone. Additionally, some people may never have to worry about whether to leave their wisdom teeth or get them removed because sometimes, the teeth just aren’t there.

Regular visits at our dental office in Modesto help get and keep your mouth healthy and can also catch any potential problems with your wisdom teeth before they arise. If your wisdom teeth are already causing pain, or removal wasn’t recommended in time before they erupted, call to schedule your appointment today. We’ll make sure to recommend the best option for you and your wise molars.

Serving patients in Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond. 

Top 4 Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

added on: March 6, 2017

sensitiveHaving sensitive teeth can be brutal. The sharp, shooting pain that often accompanies tooth sensitivity can put a damper on enjoying favorite foods. At our dental office in Modesto, we don’t want any of our patients to suffer from sensitive teeth, but we understand that a lot of them do. We’d like to explain some of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity and talk about some possible remedies.

  • Eating Acidic Foods

Certain foods can directly affect oral health. We all know that sugary foods can eat away at tooth enamel and lead to cavities, but acidic foods can also cause some dental problems. A diet packed with acidic treats like citrus fruit, tomato sauce, and wine also causes enamel erosion and weakened teeth. Once the middle part of the tooth known as the dentin becomes exposed, teeth can become painfully sensitive.  

  • Too Much Brushing

That’s right, your dentist in Modesto just said there’s such a thing as too much brushing. While we encourage our patients to brush, we don’t want them to cause damage by doing it. Damage from over-brushing can be caused by either doing it too often or using a rough, scrubbing technique. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush two times a day in soft, gentle circles to protect your grin against sensitivity.

  • Not Enough Flossing

We typically recommend flossing about once a day, every day, and for good reason. If you only brush your teeth, you’re not cleaning two sides of each tooth which can lead to plaque buildup. Plaque that’s not removed by regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings can damage enamel and leave teeth feeling a bit sensitive.

  • Tooth Grinding

Grinding tooth against tooth is a great way to not only cause chips and breaks that will require restorative dentistry to fix, it’s also a top contributor of sensitivity. Grinding files down the enamel which, as we know, leaves the inside of the tooth exposed. Usually a bruxism mouthguard can be custom fitted to prevent grinding and damage that comes with it.

If you’re experiencing the pain associated with having sensitive teeth, you don’t need to continue to suffer. Call our Modesto dental office to schedule an appointment and get relief.

Accepting patients from Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond. 

Top 4 Ways to Stop Biting Your Cheeks

added on: February 22, 2017

bitingCheek biting is a common habit and is actually very similar to nail biting. Typically brought on by stress or when nervous, biting the inside of the cheek — or the lips or tongue — can be painful, and in certain cases, concerning for the dental team at our Modesto dental office. We’re here to explain why and offer up some of the best ways to stop.

Identify the Cause

Before we discuss why biting any of the tissues in your mouth is bad for you, we should identify why it happens in the first place. If you catch your cheek in between your teeth while chewing and talking only on occasion, there’s probably nothing to be too concerned about. However, if this happens to you chronically, or if you nibble on your cheek constantly throughout the day, there may be reason for concern.

Why is It Bad?

First, any continued trauma to oral tissues can result in painful mouth sores which can become infected. Infection in the mouth is never a good thing and can actually be quite serious. Second, if you bite yourself quite often while eating, you may suffer from a misaligned bite (malocclusion). Malocclusion can lead to more serious problems like chronic headaches, a sore jaw, TMJ (temporomandibular disorder), and shifting of teeth. When your teeth don’t fit together neatly, there’s a greater chance of your cheek, lip, or tongue finding its way in between them causing you to crunch down on it (Ouch!).  

Ways to Stop

No matter what the cause may be behind biting your cheeks, there are a few tips you can try to help stop it.

  • Figure out when you do it. If your lip or cheek biting is a result of stress or nerves as opposed to a bad bite, start paying attention to when you’re doing it and work to either avoid those triggers or work to consciously stop yourself.
  • Find a support system. Sometimes, you may not realize you’re biting so often. Talk with trusted friends or coworkers about trying to stop the habit and ask them to help you identify when you do it.
  • Do something! Another common reason behind biting is boredom. If you find yourself nibbling away while watching TV, get up, get active, and do something!
  • See your dentist. If you believe your bite may be contributing to your chronic biting, talk with your dentist in Modesto for advice on how to help.    

If you suffer from chronically biting your cheeks, lip, or tongue, schedule an appointment at our dental office in Modesto. We’ll check any active sores you have for infection and help treat them if necessary, and work with you to determine not only what’s causing you to bite so often, but also the best ways to help you stop.

Accepting patients from Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sugar Intake

added on: February 10, 2017

reduce sugarSugar is every dentist’s worst enemy. It negatively affects oral health and puts teeth at increased risk for decay, cavities, and can lead to more serious dental and overall health problems. At our dental office in Modesto, we care about our patients’ smiles and well being, which why we’re strong believers in limiting the amount of sugar they ingest. In this blog, we talk about the top ways reduce your family’s sugar intake for a healthier, happier smile and body.

Sugar: It’s Not Just a Tooth Problem

When most people think of sugar, they immediately think of its negative effect on teeth. And while that’s definitely a fact, too much sugar can be dangerous to overall health too. An abundance of sugar in one’s diet can cause headaches, lead to overeating, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and contribute to cardiovascular disease.

How Much Is Too Much?

You shouldn’t cut sugar out of your diet entirely as it’s necessary for proper body function. But how much do you really need? The recommended amount of sugar intake varies from age to age and between genders. According to the American Heart Association, maximum daily sugar intake for adults is 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women.

Ways to Lower Sugar Intake

  • Eliminate sweets. Sounds easier said than done, but there are other healthier ways to get the recommended amount of sugar, like fruits, for example.
  • Check out labels. Sugar can hide in some surprising places such as yogurt and cereal. Read the labels and know what you’re buying.
  • Remove sugary drinks. Soda is the obvious one, but teas, flavored waters, and sports drinks can also pack a sugary punch. Stick to water.
  • Cook at home. By making your own meals, you’re in control of what ingredients you include.
  • Choose unsweetened. Satisfy cravings for treats by selecting unsweetened versions of common baked goods.

Reducing the amount of sugar in your family’s diet can do a lot to protect oral and overall health. We know it may be challenging, but we know you can do it! Remember, diet is only part of what makes smiles and bodies happy. Always keep appointments with your Modesto dentist at least twice a year.

If you’re looking for a new dentist or it’s time for your checkup, give our Modesto dental office a call today!

Accepting new patients from Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond.

Dental Care is Important for Pets Too

added on: January 23, 2017

pet teethAt my dental office in Modesto, we have a soft spot for fuzzy animals. Which is why we think it’s important to talk about dental care for pets. Dental care for our furry family members is just as important as dental care for humans. And while we don’t accept four-legged patients in this office, we do want to provide you with tips for proper pet dental care.

Signs of a Problem

Before we discuss how to keep your pet healthy, it’s extremely important to know the signs of some serious dental concerns. Keep a lookout for the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bleeding
  • Refusal to let you near his mouth

If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact your vet as soon as possible as they may be signs of something serious.

Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

You heard us correctly. Pick up a toothbrush that’s right for your animal at your local pet supply store, apply some pet toothpaste (do NOT use human toothpaste — it can cause stomach issues in animals), and scrub gently in soft circles. It may take some practice, but brushing your pet’s teeth two or three times a week can be beneficial to his dental and overall health. It’s also recommended that all pets receive professional cleanings at the vet once a year.

Allow Puppies to Chew

It’s an unavoidable reality — puppies chew everything. From shoes, to table legs, and even clothes, there’s nothing a new puppy won’t sink its teeth into. Part of the natural desire to chew has to do with teething, and it’s actually beneficial. It helps strengthen teeth, massage gums, and scrape away tartar. So stock up on chew toys and encourage your pup to chew only on those toys, not only for the health of his teeth, but also for the health of your shoe collection.

Pick an Appropriate Diet

Your pet’s diet can affect his dental health, just like your food and drink choices can affect yours. There are a variety of pet foods available to help reduce tartar and plaque buildup. Talk with your vet to see what’s best for your buddy.

Following the advice above can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy for a lifetime. But don’t forget about your own oral health. Brush twice a day, floss once a day, and maintain visits to my Modesto dental office at least every six months. Don’t let dental problems plague you or your pet. Make the commitment to proper oral health for you both.

Accepting patients from Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond. 

Why Are There So Many Different Types of Mouthwash?

added on: January 12, 2017

mouthwashAs you probably already know, there are several types of mouthwash available — some minty, some a bit fruity, some that claim to kill germs, and some that protect against gum disease and gingivitis. But do we really need so many? At my dental office in Modesto, we know choosing a mouthwash can be overwhelming, which is why we’d like to explain the differences between them so you can pick the right one for you.

Problem: Bad Breath & Oral Infection

Solution: Antiseptic Mouthwash

Antiseptic mouthwash is the most recommended choice for those battling bad breath or fighting off an infection. These types of mouthwashes contain chlorhexidine gluconate, which is incredibly effective at killing dangerous bacteria and bad breath. However, if antiseptic mouthwash is overused, the teeth may become discolored.

Problem: Not Enough Fluoride

Solution: Fluoride Mouthwash

While most people receive a sufficient amount of fluoride through their tap water or toothpaste, some individuals can benefit from an additional supply. This is when a fluoride mouthwash may be recommended. Fluoride mouthwash can help make teeth stronger and protect them from decay. It’s definitely not appropriate for everyone, especially those under six, but your dentist in Modesto will be able to help determine if it’s right for you.

Problem: Just a Bit of Bad Breath

Solution: Cosmetic Mouthwash

Similarly to antiseptic mouthwash, cosmetic mouthwashes can help freshen breath. What makes them different, however, is they really don’t help protect teeth or fight off bacteria. If used in addition to brushing, a cosmetic mouthwash can be effective at giving you a burst of freshness, but that’s about it.

Mouthwash Alone Isn’t Enough

Even if you choose the mouthwash that helps your specific dental concerns, swishing with it once or twice a day isn’t enough. In order to really help your mouth get and stay healthy, mouthwash should only be used as an additional step in your oral hygiene routine. Keep brushing twice a day, maintain flossing at least once a day, and don’t forego checkups with your dentist in Modesto.

Still have questions about which mouthwash is right for you? Schedule an appointment at my Modesto dental office. We’ll be happy to help.

Welcoming new patients in Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond. 

“Can I Use Baking Soda to Whiten My Teeth?”

added on: December 19, 2016

baking sodaEveryone wants a white smile, but everyday habits can really take a toll on our teeth. Red wine, smoking, coffee, tea, and many other culprits have a tendency to transform our once pure white grins into dull, discolored smiles. The good news? It doesn’t have to be permanent. There are multiple ways we can effectively whiten our teeth.

Baking Soda as a Whitener

At my Modesto dental office, we want you to not only have a smile you’re happy with, but also help you get it safely and effectively. Baking soda is often promoted as an effective way to whiten teeth, and while it can eliminate some staining, there are several things you should know about the technique before giving it a shot.

It May Not Work

Yes, baking soda has been proven to remove some types of tooth staining, but not all. Since baking soda is abrasive by nature, it can basically scour away minor surface stains and help give your smile a whiter appearance. But if teeth have more severe staining, or staining that actually resides below the tooth surface, baking soda probably won’t work. If this is the case, you may find an in-office professional whitening treatment or cosmetic dentistry, like veneers, more effective. Talk with your dentist in Modesto to figure out what’s best for you.

There’s a Right Way to Use It

Whitening your teeth with baking soda may seem easy and harmless, but there is a correct way to use it.

  • Mix the baking soda with equal parts water to tone down the level of abrasiveness
  • Brush gently, don’t scrub
  • Don’t use it every day — once or a twice a week is the recommended limit
  • Remember to still use your regular toothpaste every day, twice a day to continue to protect against bacteria

Be Aware of Possible Disadvantages

Using baking soda to whiten teeth is appealing to many people due to the fact that it’s low cost, yet effective, but there are still risks associated with it. Even though the abrasive texture is what makes it an effective whitener, it’s also one of the major risks. If used too often or inappropriately, baking soda can damage enamel and increase the risk for decay and tooth sensitivity.

If you desire a smile that’s whiter, give my Modesto dental office a call today to schedule an appointment. We can work together to determine which whitening treatment is best for you.

Welcoming patients from Modesto, Riverbank, Oakdale and beyond. 

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