Canker Sore Treatment

canker sore

There are an estimated 3 million canker sore cases a year. But knowing that these annoying and painful sores affect nearly everyone doesn’t necessarily make them any easier to tolerate when they happen to you. At our dental office in Sacramento, we understand that canker sores are uncomfortable and can hurt. That’s why we’re here to share some information about canker sores and how you can help ease their discomfort.

Signs of a Canker Sore

If you suspect you have a canker sore, look for the following common symptoms:

  • In the early stages of canker sore development, you may experience a burning or tingling sensation before you actually see a sore.
  • Blister-like sores inside the mouth. The sores are usually red but can have a white or gray center.
  • The sores can be on the tongue, cheeks, or roof of your mouth.
  • Occasionally severe canker sores can be paired with a fever.

Causes of Canker Sores

There’s no one definitive thing that causes canker sores. However, there are a few things that may contribute to them. Some common suspected causes include:

  • Stress
  • Mouth injury
  • Acidic or spicy food
  • Ill-fitting dentures or other dental appliances

Treating a Canker Sore

Canker sores will usually go away on their own within a week or two. But not all of us can tolerate the discomfort that long. There are a few things that can help shorten the life of a canker sore and get you some relief. Most commonly, canker sore sufferers use an over-the-counter product that will coat the sore in numbing medication. Other times, your dentist may be able to use a laser to get even faster results. Either way, canker sores are usually nothing to be concerned about as they’re not contagious and will typically resolve without any treatment.

Do You Need to See a Dentist for a Canker Sore?

Since canker sores will heal themselves most of the time, a visit to your dentist in Sacramento is probably not necessary. However, if the sore lasts longer than three weeks, is causing severe pain, or seems to create other sores, it’s best to schedule an appointment. Your dentist will decide if you could benefit from a corticosteroid or prescription-strength antimicrobial rinse to help fight off the canker sore.

If you have concerns about any changes in your mouth, we encourage you to call our Sacramento dental office today. We’re here to help.

Acid Reflux & Dental Health

man wonderingEven though acid reflux is a condition that originates in the stomach, it can affect other areas of the body, including the mouth. The truth is, people who suffer from acid reflux can be at greater risk for oral health concerns than those who don’t. Our dental office in Sacramento is here to help anyone dealing with acid reflux understand how it can negatively affect dental health and what you can do to reduce your risk.  

How Acid Reflux Affects the Mouth

A natural and important part of proper digestion includes the production of stomach acids. These acids help break down food so the body can digest what we eat. But these acids don’t always stay in the stomach. They can creep up the throat and into the mouth. Normally saliva in the mouth helps neutralize the acid and wash it away before it has a chance to cause damage. But when someone has acid reflux, which may also be referred to as GERD, stomach acids make their way up into mouth repeatedly. This leaves the mouth and teeth exposed to the acid. It’s this consistent exposure to the acid that causes damage to teeth.

Acid Leads to Tooth Damage

Acid is one of the worst things for teeth as it eats away at the protective enamel and leaves teeth at increased risk for decay, cavities, and other problems. As this erosion occurs and teeth are damaged, the need for dental treatment such as fillings, a root canal, or a dental crown may be required to help restore the tooth’s structure. Some signs that your teeth may have some level of acid erosion include:

  • Increased sensitivity
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Painful abscess

Reduce Your Risk

Many times acid reflux can be treated or the symptoms can be minimized through the use of a doctor-recommended medication. Additionally, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of damage caused by acid reflux including:

  • Chewing sugar-free gum to help promote saliva production to rinse away acid
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth to strengthen enamel
  • Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol to reduce acid reflux episodes
  • Seeing your dentist in Sacramento every six months to catch any problems early.

If you suffer from acid reflux and are worried about your dental health, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office to schedule an appointment today. We will take a close look at your overall oral health and talk with you about the best way to protect your teeth against the dangers of acid reflux.

These Treats Are Worse for Teeth Than Candy

candy applesWhen it comes to candy-filled holidays like Halloween, we usually caution our patients to enjoy sweet snacks and candy in moderation. And with good reason. It should come as no surprise that sugar is one of those things that concerns the team at our dental office in Sacramento. Afterall, sugar is a dentist’s worst nightmare, right? Maybe not. It turns out that there are some snacks out there that can be worse for your smile than sugar-packed candies.

What’s the Big Deal About Sugar Anyway?

Before we dive into some of the surprising snacks that are scarier to oral health than candy, it’s important to take a look at why sugar is such a concern. When we eat foods or drink beverages with high sugar content we essentially feed the bacteria that live in our mouths. This bacteria then releases an acid as a byproduct of their feasting. The acid is what contributes to decay and cavities as it wears away the protective tooth enamel, leaving teeth exposed to bacteria and more acid.

Other Spooky Snacks

While candy will always be one of those things that your dentist in Sacramento will encourage you to eat in moderation, there are other snacks that are also a concern.

Citrus & Dried Fruits

These are surprising treats that can be dangerous for your grin but usually fall under the healthy category. It is fruit, after all. But certain fruits are highly acidic, and as we know, acid is bad for teeth. Citrus fruits such as grapefruit will quite literally eat away tooth enamel and leave teeth at risk. Dried fruit is also a healthy snack that’s not so great for your smile. These super sticky fruits can get stuck on teeth and are loaded with sugar. The longer the sugar is left around, the more the bacteria will eat it, and more acid is produced.

Crackers & Chips

Chips and crackers are perhaps more surprising that fruits as cavity-causing treats. Even though these foods aren’t sweet and don’t typically contain a lot of sugar, if any, they can still be a threat to oral health. Blame it on the high starch content. These starches affect your body similarly to the way sugar does. This is due to their high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index will increase blood glucose and will feed bacteria in the mouth, just like sugar. The result is more food for the bacteria, more acidic byproduct, and more risk for cavities.

Do Your Part to Limit Your Risk of Decay

We’re not here to tell you to completely avoid candy this Halloween, or to quit eating certain fruits, chips, and crackers forever. Like anything, these things can be enjoyed in moderation. But our Sacramento dental office does encourage you to also drink plenty of water when snacking on foods that are known to increase the risk of decay. Most of all, have a happy and safe Halloween!

Is Chewing Gum Good for Teeth?

woman chewing gumGum may be your go-to fix to temporarily get rid of bad breath. Or maybe you just like to chew gum and there’s always a pack nearby. But is this sweet treat good for your teeth and overall oral health? Our dental office in Sacramento has the answer.

Gum Can Be Good, But Not All Gum is Good Gum

The truth is, chewing gum after a meal when you can’t brush or floss can help remove plaque or food particles that stick around after lunch. It can even help stimulate saliva to neutralize acids and wash away bacteria. But some gum may do more harm than good.

If your chewing gum of choice contains sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or saccharine, chances are that it’s contributing more to the problem of bacteria and acid than helping it. But gum containing Xylitol is a different story.

Why is Xylitol Beneficial?

Xylitol looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, but doesn’t act like sugar once it’s in the body. It doesn’t increase blood sugar levels and doesn’t affect oral health the same way traditional sugar does. Regular sugar and many of the sugar substitutes will feed bacteria in the mouth with a delicious meal, making these bacteria happy and more than willing to stick around. After bacteria feed on sugars they give off an acid byproduct. This acid puts tooth enamel at risk of erosion and increases the chance of decay. But Xylitol functions differently.

Even though bacteria will still feed on Xylitol in the mouth, they aren’t getting any nutrients from it. This starves bacteria and it can die off. This also means that bacteria aren’t excreting the damaging acids that contribute to decay. That’s not all.

Xylitol gum can:

  • Prevent tooth decay
  • Starve bacteria
  • Prevent oral inflammation
  • Reduce your risk for gum disease

Is Xylitol Safe?

Xylitol isn’t only found in gum but actually occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It is safe for humans but occasionally, some people have experienced negative, yet not serious, side effects when they ingest too much. Some of these common side effects include gas, bloating, diarrhea, or other discomfort.

The next time you’re looking for a piece of gum to cover up the lingering smells of lunch, choose a brand that includes Xylitol. It can not only freshen your breath, but protect your oral health in the process. However, nothing is as good for oral health as brushing and flossing regularly and maintaining biannual visits to your dentist in Sacramento.

Tooth Pain Tips

woman with toothacheTooth pain can be unbearable and effect more than just the tooth alone. The whole mouth may feel the discomfort caused by a toothache, and some people also experience severe headaches. While relief may seem to be nowhere in sight, the team at our dental office in Sacramento has a few tips that you can try to relieve tooth pain.

Top Toothache Tools

Toothaches are unpredictable, and there’s really no telling when one may hit. Be prepared by knowing a few tools and tricks you can use to ease the pain.

  • Floss. A piece of floss can work wonders in relieving pain if the toothache is caused by a piece of food lodged between teeth or under gums. Gently guide the floss between the affected tooth and up under the gum line to remove any debris. Do not floss too much or too hard as this can cause more pain.
  • Cold Compress. Use an ice pack, a bag of frozen veggies, or regular old bag of ice to help reduce swelling and ease pain. Wrap your cold pack of choice in a lightweight towel or shirt and apply it to the face near where the pain is coming from. Keep it there for about 15 minutes at a time, giving yourself breaks in between icings.
  • Anesthetic. Head over to your nearest pharmacy or grocery store and pick up an over-the-counter oral anesthetic product. These gels or liquids will numb the area of application for a short time allowing you a bit of a break from the pain.
  • Salt Water. Mix some salt into warm water and gently swish it around in your mouth a tiny sip at a time. The salt will help remove any fluid that may be putting pressure on the nerves. Don’t swallow the solution but rather spit it out after each rinse.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medicine. Many anti-inflammatories can also help reduce tooth pain by decreasing swelling and pressure on the nerves. Choose the best option for you and use as directed. Do not follow the old wives’ tale of placing a pill directly on the gums or tooth as this can be harmful.

It’s important to note that all of these tips are to be used for temporary relief. Don’t let a toothache fester for too long. Call your dentist in Sacramento for an appointment as soon as possible.

Protect Yourself from Toothaches

Now that you know what to do if you get a toothache, we want to tell you two easy things you can do to help prevent one in the first place.

  • Visit our Sacramento dental office at least twice a year so we can monitor your oral health and treat any problems before they lead to a surprise toothache.
  • Brush your teeth every morning and every night to wash away bacteria that can lead to decay, and floss once a day to remove anything that may be lurking under the gum line.

If you’re suffering from a toothache or it’s just time for you to visit a dentist, we welcome you to call us to schedule an appointment today.  

Watch Out for These Labor Day Treats

Labor Day picnicWith Labor Day right around the corner, we’re sure our patients and neighbors are gearing up for a celebration. Typical Labor Day picnics usually include tons of delicious foods and snacks ranging from hot dogs and barbeque chicken to dips and salads galore. But some of these yummy treats aren’t so great for smiles. At our dental office in Sacramento, we’re here to tell you about some of the most common Labor Day foods and drinks that could be bad for your teeth.

Be Aware of the Condiments

Even though condiments are used sparingly, they can still present dangers to oral health. Some of the most damaging condiments include:

  • BBQ Sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Salad Dressing

Common Labor Day picnic staples, BBQ sauce, ketchup, and salad dressings can put teeth at increased risk for decay and enamel erosion. Ingredients in these condiments pack a double whammy since they tend to be both acidic (vinegar) and sweet (sugar). The acid from the vinegar can wear away tooth enamel while the sugars lead to decay and cavities.  

Chips & Pretzels

Salty chips and crunchy pretzels go so well with other Labor Day treats, but they can get stuck in the crevices of teeth. If not removed, these leftover food particles will feed bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria will then release acid which can affect tooth enamel.

Soda

Soda can contain lots of sugar and acid, and as we all know, both are concerning for your dentist in Sacramento. If you must have a soda, try to drink only one and use a straw to minimize how much touches your teeth.

Alcohol

Alcohol is naturally drying and will cause your mouth to dry out too. This reduces saliva production which typically would wash away bacteria and plaque before it has a chance to cause damage.

We’re not saying you should avoid these treats altogether, but we do encourage you to mix in some fresh veggies, cheese, and in-season fruits. Also make sure to drink plenty of water and try to brush your teeth shortly after eating. If brushing isn’t an option, a quick rinse with some water can rinse away sugars and acids, helping to protect your teeth.

From all of us at our Sacramento dental office, we hope you have a happy and safe Labor Day.

How to Deal with Losing a Filling

woman embarrassedDental fillings are an incredibly common type of dental restoration used to treat cavities and decay. In fact, nearly 91% of Americans between 20 and 64 have at least one dental filling. While dental fillings are strong and can last for many, many years, there are still some things that can cause a dental filling to become loose or fall out. Here’s what to do if that happens.

Don’t Wait, Call

Before you do anything else you should call your dentist in Sacramento. Many times our dental office will be able to see you the same day or the next day. At the appointment, you can expect to have a thorough exam of the area so your dental team can assess the damage. This allows us the opportunity to determine the best way to fix it.

What to Expect

Sometimes your dentist may recommend replacing the filling with another one. This is typically what happens if the filling was small and the damage didn’t really affect the tooth. Other times a filling just won’t get the job done and a dental crown may be recommended. Dental crowns cap the entire tooth and provide greater protection.  

Do Your Part

If you lose a filling there are important steps you should take in order to protect your tooth and ease any discomfort.

  • Clean the area. When a filling falls out, your tooth is left with a small hole that food and bacteria can get wedged into. If left there, it could lead to more damage. Rinse with salt water or gently brush the area after eating.
  • Reduce the pain. Using pain reliever can help minimize any sensitivity and increase comfort. There are also temporary fillers available at many pharmacies. Look for one that contains zinc oxide and place it in the gap, but only temporarily.

Avoid the Problem in the First Place

While very common, there are ways you can avoid losing a filling… including choosing your snacks wisely. Many lost or loose fillings are the result of sticky foods or hidden popcorn kernels, so be sure to eat these in moderation and use caution. Tooth grinding or clenching is also a common cause of lost fillings. Make sure to use a nightguard if you grind your teeth in your sleep to protect both your dental restorations as well as your jaw health. Lastly, seeing your Sacramento dentist every six months can help catch any loose fillings before they have a chance to fall out when you least expect it.

We’re always welcoming new patients at our dental office in Sacramento and are here to help with any dental concern. If you’ve lost a filling or suspect you may need one, we welcome you to give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

“Why Does My Dentist Need to Know My Medical History?”

man filling out paperworkBefore your first visit with your dentist in Sacramento you’ll probably be asked to fill out a medical history form. But why does a doctor who’s looking at your oral health need to know all about your overall health? The truth is, there is a strong connection between the two and the more your dental team knows, the more customized your treatment can be.

Things You Should Share

When it comes to information about your health there’s no such thing as too much information. Knowing anything and everything we can about your overall health will only help our team help give you the best dental care possible. We encourage you to be honest about your health history even it you think it has absolutely nothing to do with your mouth because, in fact, many diseases can affect your oral health. Some things we should know about include:

  • Heart problems
  • Asthma
  • Pacemaker
  • Epilepsy
  • Smoking
  • Allergies
  • Joint replacements
  • Autoimmune conditions

Medications and Oral Health

Our dental office in Sacramento may also ask for a list of any prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you’re currently taking. Many medications can cause dry mouth, which puts you at greater risk for cavities. While cavities are easily treated when they’re caught early, if they’re left alone they can lead to bigger problems such as the need for a root canal or even so much as losing the tooth. It’s also important for us to know about any medications you take in case we need to prescribe you anything, that way we can be sure it’s not going to negatively affect or interact with your existing medicine.

Keep it Current

While it’s normal and necessary to collect health history at your first visit to any doctor, you may never touch those forms again. But you should. Any time something changes with your health — if you have surgery, get diagnosed with a disease, are pregnant, or start a new medication — you should ask to update your medical history on file.

Privacy Matters

As with any medical information, your health history is also kept private and can’t be shared with anyone without your permission. Rest assured that any information regarding your health is protected by HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

At our Sacramento dental office, we believe that when it comes to your health, the more we know the better we can cater your care to your individual needs. If you have any questions about why we ask what we do or our privacy policy, we welcome you to ask us at any time.

A Closer Look at Sugary Snacks

yogurt with granolaMost of us know that sugar is bad for teeth. So it should come as no surprise that our dental office in Sacramento encourages our patients to limit their sugar intake in order to keep teeth healthy and decay-free. But sometimes it’s not so easy know just how much sugar is in the foods we eat. We’re here to help take a closer look…

How Much Sugar is Recommended?

Before we dive into some foods that are high in sugar we should talk about how much sugar we typically need every day. While sugar intake limits vary person to person, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following maximum of added sugars daily:

  • Men – 150 calories per day (or 9 teaspoons)
  • Women – 100 calories per day (or 6 teaspoons)

A Quick Note on Added Sugars

There two types of sugars found in food — natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars occur naturally in foods and added sugars are, well, added in. While both can negatively affect teeth, added sugars are worse for oral health and overall health.

Sugar-Packed Snacks

As we look at some snacks that are high in sugar, there may be some that surprise you. Remember, you don’t need to avoid these snacks entirely, but try to limit your intake of added sugars and do all you can to follow a well-balanced diet. To try to put the sugar content into better perspective, we’ll be using teaspoons for reference.

Yogurt

Yogurt is usually considered good for you, but certain types can contain loads of sugar. Varieties that have added fruit or flavors are particularly guilty. Some may even top out at more than 6.5 teaspoons of sugar in only a 6 ounce cup.

Granola Bars

Here’s another snack that normally finds its way onto the healthy list. Granola bars can be a quick and easy snack, but there can also be a lot of sugar hiding in these handheld treats. In fact, some may have nearly 3 teaspoons of it.

Soda

This one should come as no surprise. Certain types of soda can have as much as 11 teaspoons in a 12 ounce can!

Candy

Another pretty common sugary snack comes in the form of candy. And while different types of candy pack a different sugar punch, most of them contain at least 7 teaspoons and some have as much as 17 teaspoons!

When it comes to nutrition and snacking smart, read the labels on food carefully and pay attention to serving size to truly know how much sugar (and other stuff) you’ll be putting into your body. If it helps you to picture sugar content by the teaspoon, keep in mind that 4.2 grams is equal to 1 teaspoon.

As always, when it comes to keeping your smile healthy and your teeth in tip-top shape, make sure you brush them twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist in Sacramento biannually.

We’re always accepting new patients at our Sacramento dental office and welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.

Does Asthma Affect Dental Health?

woman reaching for asthma inhalerIt’s well known that asthma causes a narrowing of the airways, reduces oxygen flow, and makes it difficult to breathe. It’s a chronic, scary disease that affects the lungs and entire respiratory system. But can it be true that asthma may also affect dental health? The team at our dental office in Sacramento has the surprising answer in this week’s blog.

Asthma By The Numbers

More than 20 million adults and over 6 million children in the United States alone suffer from asthma. There is no cure for this disease that takes the lives of an estimated 3,600 people every year. Even more suffer asthma attacks, become sick, or are even hospitalized. Asthma is not a disease to take lightly and patients should take their medication as prescribed. However, there are some lesser known side effects of asthma that should be talked about.

Asthma & Cavities

It’s incredibly common for asthma sufferers to breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses – simply because it’s easier and they can get more oxygen that way. But mouth breathing is a known contributor to dry mouth and cavities. Constantly exposing the inside of the mouth to air really reduces saliva production. Typically, saliva would rinse away damaging bacteria and acid, but without it, they’re left behind to do some serious damage. Both bacteria and acid will attack enamel, removing the teeth’s protective barrier and increasing the likelihood for cavities. What’s more is that common asthma treatments may also cause dry mouth, which doubles the risk of inadequate saliva production and decay.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Asthma patients are more likely to develop cavities, but following the steps below can help minimize the risk of dental problems.

  • Stay Hydrated. Water is a dry mouth sufferer’s best weapon of defense. Water can help pick up the slack of reduced saliva flow and rinse away bad bacteria and acid. Drinking water throughout the day may even help saliva production increase and further protect your teeth. Choose water as often as possible and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Rinse. Since we know that many asthma medications contain drying ingredients, it’s important to rinse your mouth out with water soon after taking them. The sooner you can rinse, the less time the drying ingredients are in your mouth.  
  • Tell Your Dentist. Your dentist in Sacramento will ask about your health history and any medications you’re taking. It’s important to tell them the truth. Many diseases and medicines can affect oral health, not just asthma, and the more your dentist knows the better care they’ll be able to give.

Besides following the tips above, you should always brush and floss your teeth regularly. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day will help keep your mouth protected in between dental appointments. If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve been to the dentist, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office to schedule your appointment today.