National Pet Dental Health Month

dog with toothbrushEvery February, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month to raise awareness of the importance of proper dental care for our furry best friends. While our Sacramento dental office doesn’t treat these cuddly critters, we know a lot of our patients have pets, and we’d like to provide them tips on how to care for the furrier members of their families.

Brushing is Important for Pets Too

You know your dentist in Sacramento encourages each and every patient to brush their teeth twice a day, every day. Now while it’s not necessary to brush your pet’s teeth that often, it is important that you do it occasionally. Typically brushing two to three times a week will do wonders in keeping their mouths healthy. While brushing your pet’s teeth may be a challenge at first, doing it regularly can help make it a routine. When you start, take a piece of gauze and a pet-friendly toothpaste to gently massage your pet’s teeth in tight circles. This small step can really help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. But good brushing doesn’t end there. You should take your pet to get a professional dental cleaning once a year for a thorough job.

Encourage Chewing

We don’t necessarily mean that you let your pet take control of the house and nibble on anything he wants. But most vets do encourage you to let him chew on toys or treats specifically designed to help scrub away plaque. While bones may seem like the obvious choice, these tough treats can actually do more harm than good. In fact, chewing a hard bone increases the risk for dental damage. Instead, consider buying toys or treats that strengthen teeth, stimulate gums, and remove plaque and tartar. Whatever you and your vet choose, remember that brushing is still crucial for optimal oral health (this applies to you too!).

Know What to Look For

Just like humans, knowing the signs of a potential problem and seeking treatment sooner rather than later is key to successful treatment. What’s also similar between humans and animals are the signs of a dental concern. Keep an eye out for:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Bleeding

If you notice any of the above in your pet, call your vet. If you notice any in yourself, call your Sacramento dentist.

Following the tips above and being open with your vet can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy for life. The same applies to you. Make sure to practice a proper oral health care routine and maintain regular visits at our dental office in Sacramento.

How Do You Know When it’s Time to Go to a Dentist in Sacramento?

man with tooth painYou should go to the dentist at least every six months, but it’s something that’s so often foregone. Whether you miss your dental checkups due to a crazy schedule or perhaps a fear of the dentist, the team at our Sacramento dental office is here to both encourage you to keep up with your bi-yearly appointments and to tell you a few instances when you should absolutely schedule a visit right away….

Tooth Pain

Perhaps the most obvious sign that it’s time to see a dentist in Sacramento is a toothache. A toothache can be a sign of several oral health problems, and a fast appointment can go a long way in not only relieving the pain, but also avoiding more advanced issues.  

Swollen, Red Gums

Sometimes we tend to ignore the gums and put all of our focus on the teeth. But our gums are an important part of oral health too. If gums are red or swollen, or they bleed during brushing or flossing, it can be an indication of a potentially serious problem such as gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can affect the entire body and has been linked to stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

Increased Sensitivity

Whether you notice the sharp shoots of pain through your teeth when eating something cold or drinking something hot, the truth is tooth sensitivity hurts. This sensitivity can be caused by a number of things including brushing too hard, using too much smile whitening products, or even enamel erosion or receding gums. See your dentist to determine the best way to relieve tooth sensitivity.

Bad Breath

Bad breath may seem like simply an unpleasant thing that we have to deal with. The truth, however, is that chronic bad breath may be an early sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease, and if left untreated, it may lead to tooth loss and other serious oral health and whole body health problems.  

Dry Mouth

Occasional dry mouth typically isn’t something to worry yourself over. But if dry mouth doesn’t get better you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Dry mouth can be a result of aging or certain medications. But it can also be a sign of disease. If not treated properly dry mouth can increase the risk of cavities and other problems.

The best way to prevent any of these problems from occurring the first place is to maintain regular dental appointments and follow a solid oral hygiene routine at home. However, if you do notice any of the signs above, we welcome you to call our dental office in Sacramento to schedule a visit.

What You Need to Know About Your Teeth and The Common Cold

young man with coldIt’s official: We’re in the peak of cold and flu season. While we all try our best to avoid the stuffiness, coughs, and sore throats that tend to accompany the flu or common cold, there are times when germs take hold and make us sick, no matter what we do. At our dental office in Sacramento, we never want our patients or neighbors to get sick, but we know the inevitable happens. And when it does, we want to educate everyone on some ways your go-to medicine of choice can damage your smile.  

Hidden Dangers

Medicines designed to help ease symptoms of the common cold such as cough syrups or cough drops are great at making you feel a bit better. But they tend to come with hidden dangers that can affect your oral health. Ultimately, the ingredients in many popular over-the-counter medications can lead to tooth decay and cavities.

Sugary Sweetness

Medicines usually contain some sugars to mask the bad taste. But these sugars are dangerous to teeth. When sugar enters the mouth, bacteria begin feeding on them and release acid as a byproduct. This acid wears away tooth enamel, which is meant to protect teeth against decay. Without their protective coating, teeth are at increased risk for decay and cavities.

Alcohol

Another common ingredient in many cough medicines is alcohol. However, alcohol reduces saliva production and may cause dry mouth. This is concerning for your dentist in Sacramento. Saliva is needed to rinse away sugars in the mouth and the acid produced by feeding bacteria. Without it, these sugars and acids are left behind to damage smiles by decaying teeth.  

Tips to Help

Does this mean we’re suggestions that you should tough out a cold and not take any medicine? Definitely not. But we are suggesting a few ways you can help limit the potential of your medicine causing oral health problems.

  • Trying taking the medication as a pill instead of a liquid. This will decrease or eliminate your teeth’s exposure to the dangerous ingredients.
  • Don’t take cough syrup right before bed. If you take your medicine after you brush your teeth, the sugar is left in the mouth all night long, greatly increasing your risk for decay
  • Take liquid medicine with food. Saliva production increases as we eat. So if you take your medicine when saliva production is highest, it can help rinse away the sugar and alcohol.

The team at our Sacramento dental office hopes you can avoid getting sick this season. But if you do get sick, follow our tips above to protect your smile as you work on feeling better.

Your Sacramento Dentist Says, “Eat Chocolate!”

woman eats chocolateWe’ve got some fantastic news for all of our patients and neighbors with an active sweet tooth! It may come as a surprise, but the team at our Sacramento dental office is telling everyone to go ahead and eat chocolate — for your smile’s sake! But before you head out to buy a dozen of your candy bars, keep in mind that not just any chocolate will do.

Dark Chocolate: The Secret Cavity Fighter

Recent studies conducted by researchers in the United States, England, and Japan show a strong correlation between dark chocolate its ability to ward off decay, cavities, and problem causing plaque. There’s even some evidence to support the idea that dark chocolate may be just as effective, or perhaps more-so, at fighting off cavities as fluoride. However, we’re not suggesting that you pass on your regular fluoride treatments. More research and testing is needed before we can make an absolute claim as to effectiveness of dark chocolate.

Why Dark Chocolate?

It’s not necessarily the dark chocolate itself that has all the oral health benefits. In fact, most credit is being given to compounds found within dark chocolate, or more specifically the cocoa bean husk. All of the beneficial compounds found in dark chocolate are incredibly unique in that they have the ability to fight off both bacteria and plaque. There are even talks of one of these compounds, CBH, becoming an active ingredient in some dental products such as mouthwash and toothpaste because of its benefits.

Why is This Good News?

When we eat anything that contains a lot of sugar, we put our teeth at risk for decay and cavities. As we snack on these sweet treats, sugar gets left behind in the mouth. But it’s not the sugar itself that causes the problem, it’s the bacteria that feed on the sugar. As bacteria fuel up on leftover sugar particles, they also release acid as a byproduct. This acid wears away the protective enamel, leaving teeth exposed to decay. What’s so unique and interesting about dark chocolate is that the bacteria and plaque fighting compounds counteract this process by eliminating bacteria from the beginning.

Remember, Not All Chocolate is Good Chocolate

It’s important to remember that these studies and beneficial oral health claims are limited to dark chocolate and do not include milk chocolate or white chocolate. Even so, not all dark chocolate is created equal either. Try to find dark chocolate with less than 8 grams of sugar per serving. If you can get your hands on organic dark chocolate, that’s even better. Besides having oral health benefits, dark chocolate is also loaded with antioxidants and can be beneficial to overall health too, so don’t shy away from snacking on it.

As always, it’s also important, to maintain a proper oral hygiene routine at home and visit our dental office in Sacramento twice a year for an optimally healthy mouth.  

Don’t Let Holiday Stress Affect Your Oral Health

holiday stressLate November is when we gear up for a few weeks of feasts, family, fun, shopping, and all that the holiday season brings. Between arranging schedules to see everyone you need to see, fitting in all the parties you’ve been invited to, cooking large meals, and everything in between, it’s no wonder that stress levels tend to soar this time of year. As we all know, stress can affect our overall wellbeing. But at our dental office in Sacramento, we also know stress can jeopardize oral health, too.

What’s With The Jaw Pain?

Our bodies react to stress differently, and we aren’t even aware of some of the things it does when stressed.  Clenching and grinding our teeth tends to be one of those things. When we grind our teeth against each other, the forces put on the teeth can cause them to chip, crack, or break. Clenching can do the same thing, but it also affects the jaw. Habitually clenching our teeth may cause serious jaw pain and, if left untreated, long-term TMJ problems. If you’re experiencing clicking or popping in the jaw joint, jaw pain, or occasional jaw locking give your Sacramento dentist a call.

Gum Disease

The main causes of gum disease usually include improper oral hygiene, dry mouth, or smoking. But one of the lesser known risk factors to developing this serious oral health problem is stress. Research has shown a strong link between prolonged stress and a higher risk of gum disease. Gum disease is a health problem that originates in the mouth but also can affect the entire body. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, heart disease, and other serious health problems.

Stay Calm, Stay Healthy

At our Sacramento dental office, we know that life can be super stressful, especially during the holidays. If you find your blood pressure increasing and your anxiety levels rising, try a few of these tips to relax and keep yourself healthy.

  • Eat Well. Fueling your body with the nutrients it needs can keep energy levels high and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
  • Sleep Often. During the holidays we try to shove so many things into our schedules that sleep is usually the first thing we sacrifice. However, getting enough sleep every night can help ensure your body will stay healthy enough to enjoy all the holiday festivities you have planned.
  • Exercise Regularly. Hit the treadmill, go for a walk, attend a class — whatever you choose to do, make sure you exercise regularly. Exercise is naturally stress reducing, so don’t skip your workouts

The team at our Sacramento dental office wish you and your family a happy, healthy holiday season!

Scared of the Dentist? Let Us Help!

woman afraid of the dentistYou have a dental appointment early tomorrow morning…and you can’t sleep. You toss and turn in bed, you feel tense and can’t seem to relax, you start sweating, your heart starts pounding, and you may even start to feel nauseated. Does this sound like you? If so, you’re one of an estimated 80 million Americans that suffer from dental fear. The dental team at our dental office in Sacramento understands that dental fear is very real and very hard to overcome, but we’re here to try to help.

Top 4 Causes of Dental Fear

Before we launch into some tips that can help ease your fear of the dentist, it’s important to take a look at some of the most common reasons why people have dental fear.

  • Pain
  • Loss of Control
  • Embarrassment
  • Negative Experience

All of these reasons may keep patients from maintaining regular visits with their dentist in Sacramento, and that’s concerning.

Regular Visits Are Important

According to the Dental Fears Research Clinic in Seattle, nearly 20% of Americans will only see the dentist when it’s absolutely necessary instead of taking a preventative approach to oral healthcare. While visiting the dentist may be uncomfortable and cause a lot of stress, seeing your dentist bi-annually can really help keep more involved treatments to a minimum and, in turn, lower anxiety typically associated with the dental office.

Overcome Your Fear

When a fear or anxiety is so strong, it may seem as if all hope is lost and you’ll never overcome it. But give yourself some credit. By opening and reading this blog, you’ve already taken the first step to understanding your fear and how to help alleviate it. Below we highlight our guide to overcoming dental fear. We hope it helps you continue to learn more about your fear and gives you some hope.

  • Talk with friends and family to get a list of potential dentists. Then pick up the phone and call them. Notice the feeling you have on the call and how your concerns are addressed before you even step into a dental office.
  • Take your pick of all the offices you spoke with and call them back to schedule a new patient appointment. Remember to be open and honest on that call about your dental fear so the team is prepared at your visit.
  • Bring a friend or family member to that first dental appointment, preferably one without a dental fear. Just knowing you have a trusted person with you can really help you relax and feel comfortable.
  • Distract yourself by bringing some music and headphones or talk with your dental team about any amenities they may have to help ease stress such as blankets, sunglasses, or noise cancelling headphone.
  • Always be honest with your Sacramento dentist and dental team. Dental professionals are committed to both your health and overall comfort and they should be willing to help you relax so you can get the best care.

If you’d like to come into our Sacramento dental office for a visit, we welcome you to give us a call. We’re always happy to see new patients and are dedicated to providing gentle dentistry in a relaxing and calm environment.  

October is National Dental Hygiene Month

hygiene appointmentWhen most people think of October, we doubt they immediately think of their teeth. In fact, they might not think about teeth at all except if a piece of Halloween candy does some unexpected damage. That’s where we’re a little different. At our dental office in Sacramento, when we think of October, we think of National Dental Hygiene Month, our dental hygienists, and their dedication to keeping patients’ mouths healthy.

About National Dental Hygiene Month

Every October, the dental community celebrates National Dental Hygiene Month. Sponsored by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program (WOHP), National Dental Hygiene Month is designed to increase awareness of how proper dental hygiene is crucial to maintaining a healthy mouth and healthy body. According to the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH) there is a link between oral health and several whole body concerns such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and others.

The Daily 4

The main focus of National Dental Hygiene Month this year is on the top four necessary components of a proper at home oral hygiene routine. These four aspects include:

  • Brushing
  • Flossing
  • Rinsing
  • Chewing

Read on to learn more important information from your dentist in Sacramento.

Brushing

We all know we should brush our teeth everyday, but according to American Dental Association (ADA), there are certain guidelines you should follow to get the most out of your brushing routine. Make sure to brush twice a day for two minutes each. You should select a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small, gentle circular motion instead of a back and forth scrubbing technique to reduce potential damage to your enamel.

Flossing

Sometimes we’re asked if flossing is really necessary. The short answer? Absolutely. Why? We’re glad you asked. When you only brush your teeth and don’t floss you’re missing out on cleaning about 35% of each tooth. That’s a lot of opportunity for bacteria to get comfy and start the decay process. Make sure you’re removing as much bacteria and plaque as possible by flossing in between each tooth and up under the gum line.

Rinsing

Mouthwash may seem like an unnecessary part of an oral healthcare routine. However, the right product can help reduce bad breath, gingivitis, decay, and plaque. Look for one that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This means the product has been scientifically tested and evidence supports the claims made on the label.

Chewing

Brushing your teeth after you eat is ideal, but we realize that may not be possible for everyone all the time. When you can’t brush after a meal, chew a piece of sugarless gum instead. Chewing gum helps produce saliva which aids in neutralizing bacteria that may be left over from your meal.

We encourage every one of our patients and neighbors to follow The Daily 4 diligently for a healthy, happy mouth. However, it’s still important to maintain dental cleanings and bi-annual appointments with your dentist. These visits help remove stuck-on plaque or tartar that you just can’t get at home and ensure there are no problems lurking in your mouth. If you’re looking for a new dental team, we’re always accepting new patients and would love to see you. Give our Sacramento dental office a call to schedule an appointment.

How Do I Find a New Dentist?

smiling male dentistNobody necessarily wants to embark on the journey of finding a new dentist. But occasionally, it’s just what we have to do. Longtime dentists retire, jobs require us to move, and a variety of life’s situations sometimes make it necessary to seek out a new dentist. However, finding the right new dentist can be a difficult process. With so many practices in your neighborhood all offering similar services, how do you know which dentist to choose? Follow this handy guide below to help find the best dentist in Sacramento for you.

Ask for Recommendations

When starting your search for the right dentist, begin by asking friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. See which dental offices in Sacramento they visit, ask what they like about their dentists, and find out whether or not they’re located conveniently to home or work. Compile a list of options and hit the internet to do some research on your own. Look at each office’s website, see what services are offered, read up on the doctor and team, and don’t forget to check out their reviews either on their website or on online review platforms like Google. This will help you narrow your list to a few options.

Make Some Calls

Once you have your list of prospective dentists, pick up the phone and start calling them. During these conversations, be open to asking questions that will provide you some insight into the practice philosophy, treatments offered, and overall personality of the office. Some of the basic questions you can ask include:

  • “What is the dentist’s level of training?”
  • “What type of amenities does the practice offer to make treatment more comfortable?”
  • “What should I expect during my first visit?”
  • “How do you handle insurance and financials?”

Schedule an Appointment

After your initial call with each office, you should have a pretty good idea of which practice stands out to you the most and which may be a good fit. The next thing you should do is schedule a consultation or new patient appointment. There’s no better way to ensure you’ve found your new dental home than to get into the office and check it out. During your visit, note things like cleanliness, friendliness, time-sensitivity, and thoroughness. After this first visit, you should know whether that dentist and office is best for your needs, or that you need to keep looking.

If you’re searching for a new dentist, we invite you to call our dental office in Sacramento. We’ll answer any questions you may have and provide you with any information that will help make your decision easier.

4 Habits That Are Destroying Your Teeth

woman biting her nailsEven if you brush twice a day, floss each night, and visit our dental office in Sacramento at least twice a year, you may be doing other things that could be damaging your smile… and you may not even know it. Today we’d like to talk about some of the most common smile-damaging habits and offer ways to help you break them.

Brushing Your Teeth

Yes, your dentist in Sacramento just said that brushing your teeth can be causing damage to your smile, but there’s a catch. Brushing your teeth too hard can cause gums to recede. Once the protective gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, you can experience painful sensitivity and, if left untreated, could eventually cause gum disease or even tooth loss. Avoid using a back and forth scrubbing motion and focus on brushing in soft circles. Also, make sure you’re using the right toothbrush for you. Usually a soft bristled brush is best.

Biting Your Nails

This is one of two habits that’s not only dangerous for your oral health, but also your overall health (we’ll get the other one is just a bit). Nail biting can introduce all sorts of bacteria that are hiding under nails into your system. And as we know, bacteria isn’t good and can make us sick. In reference to your oral health, biting your nails can lead to jaw issues as well as tooth damage. The position your jaw is in while nibbling on nails can place unnatural pressure on the joint. Doing this repeatedly over years can result in jaw pain or TMJ/TMD. Nails are also made of a hard material, and hard material doesn’t mix well with teeth. Biting nails can lead to chips or cracks in your teeth. To help you break the habit, try using a bitter-tasting nail polish (it even comes in clear if you’re not into colorful nails) to make putting nails to mouth less appealing.

Smoking or Using Tobacco

We mentioned we’d be talking about another habit that’s both dangerous to oral health and overall health… smoking or any type of tobacco use.. It’s fairly common knowledge that using tobacco can lead to all sorts of health problems, but it can also cause some pretty scary oral health issues. Not only can tobacco in any form cause yellow teeth, it can also increase risk for oral cancer or gum disease, which bring on a whole set of problems of their own. We encourage anyone who uses tobacco to try to quit. We know it’s incredibly hard, but we know you can do it.

Clenching and Grinding

Clenching and grinding teeth typically occurs as a response to stress, but it can also happen subconsciously during sleep. No matter when it happens, the results are usually the same. People who clench or grind their teeth tend to experience jaw pain and suffer from TMJ/TMD. What’s more, damage to teeth or dental restorations can also occur. Most times, relief is found by using a nightguard which keeps the teeth from rubbing together or the user from biting down forcefully.

Even though our Sacramento dental office is all about preventing dental problems before they arise, we know that issues will still occur, sometimes as a result of any of the habits listed above. If you ever encounter a problem with your smile, we always welcome you to give us a call.

Receding Gums: Causes & Treatments

woman with receding gumsIf you’ve ever noticed gum tissue appear to creep up higher and higher over time, showing off more and more of the actual tooth, you’ve seen gum recession in action. Really slow action, but nonetheless, you’ve experienced it. Gum recession is incredibly common and can be treated. But our dental office in Sacramento wants to emphasize that just because it’s treatable, doesn’t mean you should let it go. It can be painful and be a sign of more serious problems.

Why is Gum Recession Concerning?

Besides helping to hold teeth in place, one responsibility of gums is to protect the roots of teeth. When gums start to recede, it leaves the roots exposed to the elements, making teeth sensitive and painful. If gum recession is left untreated, it will only lead to more serious and often painful problems including:

  • Severe inflammation
  • Increased susceptibility to bacteria
  • Erosion of bone and supporting tissues
  • Rotting teeth that will fall out

Top Causes of Gum Recession

There are a variety of things that can cause gum recession. While we can list multiple reasons here, the main culprits include:

  • Roughly brushing or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Tooth grinding
  • Tobacco use
  • Genetics
  • Gum disease

Signs of Gum Recession

Gum recession is a slow process, and the best way to catch it early is to maintain regular visits with your dentist in Sacramento. In between appointments, keep an eye out for:

  • Teeth that appear longer
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Little indentations on the teeth near the gum line

Gum Recession Treatment

Treatment can vary greatly depending on the severity. Sometimes a new toothbrush and better flossing habits will keep it from progressing. For more serious cases, a deeper dental cleaning called scaling and root planing may be appropriate. People who have let the recession progress for a long time may need to explore a surgical option.

Gum recession isn’t something to take lightly. If you’re experiencing it yourself, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office. We’ll talk about your oral hygiene habits, examine your mouth for any other problems, and discuss the best treatment option for you.