Fluoride For a Healthy Smile

fluorideWhen it comes to the oral health of you and your family, you may have heard about the importance of fluoride. You may have also heard a few arguments against it. At our dental office in Sacramento, we want to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about fluoride, what it is, why it’s crucial for our smiles, and yes, even discuss a few risks. 

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that’s found in nature, specifically in soil, water, plants, and the air we breathe. In the world of dentistry, fluoride is used to help strengthen tooth enamel and protect teeth against decay and cavities. It can also help repair early decay caused by demineralization. 

Demineralization occurs when acids from bacteria and foods linger around and actually begin to eat away at the protective layer of enamel. But enamel isn’t the only thing affected during demineralization. Our teeth can also lose minerals such as calcium, phosphate, and fluoride. These minerals are essential to keeping our teeth tough and strong to fight off decay…  so it’s important to replace them either through the foods we eat or from fluoride treatments from your Sacramento dentist

Who Should Get Fluoride?

When you think of fluoride, you may assume that it’s only important for kids. But nearly everyone’s smile can benefit from fluoride. Your dentist in Sacramento will most likely recommend that both you and your children receive a fluoride treatment at every dental appointment to help build strong teeth and protect against cavities. These treatments are typically either a varnish, foam, or gel that are applied in the dental office. 

Where to Get Fluoride?

Besides having your dental team apply a fluoride treatment, there are other ways you can help your teeth get enough fluoride. Most public water supplies have added fluoride, and it can be found in some foods you eat. There’s also fluoride in many kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash. Fluoride supplements are also available and may be recommended if you don’t have fluoridated water or if you need an extra boost of fluoride. 

Is Fluoride Safe?

Fluoride is safe for children and adults in recommended amounts, which will vary based on things such as risk, need, and age. However, fluoride can be hazardous if it’s used too much. This risk is extremely low as it’s extremely difficult to expose yourself to dangerous levels of fluoride through fluoridated water, toothpaste, and fluoride treatments from your dentist. A good rule of thumb is to remember to always follow your dentist’s recommendations, don’t swallow toothpaste or mouthwash, and monitor children’s brushing habits at home. 

If you’re unsure if fluoride is right for you or your family, or if you have questions about fluoride, we welcome you to call our Sacramento dental office and schedule a visit. We’re here to help!

The Surprising Summer Activity That Can Harm Your Teeth

kids swimmingSwimming is a popular summertime activity, and it’s good for you too! It’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise, it’s easy on the joints, and it’s a sweet way to cool off on those hot days. But the team at our Sacramento dental office knows that there could be some harm lurking in your pool water that you probably don’t know about. 

Swimming Pools & Your Teeth

Many pools use chlorine to keep pool water free of dangerous bacteria that could be harmful to humans. But this chlorine may also put another part of your body at risk for damage — your teeth. 

Research dating back to the 1980’s studied the negative effects of chlorine on your oral health, particularly your tooth enamel. Part of what chlorine does is help level out the pH balance of pool water, so it’s safe for families. For most situations, pool water should have a pH between 7.2 and 7.8. But when this drops below this ideal range, the water actually becomes acidic. If this happens and you spend a lot of time in the pool, or a lot of water gets into your mouth, the acid can wear away tooth enamel and even cause tooth discoloration. 

Why Is Tooth Enamel Important?

Tooth enamel is the super-strong protective layer of our teeth. It helps keep dangerous plaque and bacteria from eating away at the teeth and causing cavities. If tooth enamel erodes, whether it’s from an improperly chlorinated pool, drinking too many acidic drinks like lemonade, or brushing too hard, teeth are at increased risk for decay, wearing down, and sensitivity. 

Who Is At Risk?

While anyone’s teeth can suffer from enamel erosion, the cases in which the erosion is caused by chlorine is often found in competitive swimmers or those who spend a lot of time in pools. The truth is if you only swim occasionally, you’re probably not at risk. 

Signs of a Problem

Two of the first signs that a pool’s pH is too low are irritated skin or burning eyes while swimming. Over time, you may start to notice brown spots on your teeth (known as swimmer’s calculus) or experience increased tooth sensitivity. If you notice any of these changes, visit your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can.

Protecting Your Tooth Enamel

Besides proper brushing and flossing, there are steps you can take to help protect your enamel against erosion — and no, you don’t need to give up swimming. Just make sure you test the water for proper pH levels regularly and try to keep pool water out of your mouth as much as possible. Of course, it’s also important to see your Sacramento dentist at least every six months for regular checkups and professional cleanings.

I’m Pregnant and Nervous About Seeing the Dentist. Help!

pregnant woman brushes teethThere are so many new questions and complications that can arise when you find out you’re expecting a little one. It’s such a beautiful time and moment in an expectant mother’s life, and we want you to be able to relax and enjoy all of the positive sides of pregnancy. Your Sacramento dentist doesn’t want you to worry about taking care of your smile, no matter if you’re an existing patient or someone new who is looking for a dental family they can trust.

Let’s explore some of the dental-related questions or concerns some pregnant women seem to struggle with. We’ll show you how everything is going to be alright, no matter what your smile needs to stay healthy during pregnancy.

Helpful Tip #1 – Blame Your Hormones

One of the first things that happens when a pregnancy begins to develop is your hormones get all out of whack thanks to rising and falling levels of both estrogen and progesterone. In about half of all pregnant women, there’s a risk of developing something referred to as “pregnancy-related gingivitis”, according to the American Dental Association. It causes pain, swelling, tenderness, and excessive bleeding in your gums. Your dentist in Sacramento can always take a look at your gums and bleeding to determine a plan of action. Sometimes we recommend more frequent cleanings, and sometimes the issue clears up on its own.

Helpful Tip #2 – Take Additional Steps to Protect Your Teeth from Acid Erosion

Sickness and vomiting during pregnancy are one of the most common side effects that most women tend to experience early on in their pregnancy. When you get sick, excess stomach acid can eat away at your tooth enamel leading to decay. Remember these helpful tips you can use at home to help protect your teeth from acid:

  1. Rinse with water – Swish some water around in your mouth following a bout of morning sickness to remove some of the acid from your teeth.
  2. Wait an hour – Wait at least an hour before brushing after you’re sick. Rinse with water in the meantime. The acid may weaken enamel, and brushing can scratch the enamel and lead to decay.  
  3. Keep drinking water – The more water you drink, the lower the acidity level in your mouth will be.
  4. Smear on toothpaste – Putting a dollop of toothpaste on your finger and rubbing it on your teeth can further protect them against acid.
  5. Use a tongue scraper – After you get sick, if you take a tongue scraper across your tongue, you can successfully remove some of the acid that may stick around on the tongue and then transfer to the teeth.

Helpful Tip #3 – Don’t Ignore Your Oral and Overall Health Connection

You might have heard at our Sacramento dental office about how closely your mouth is connected to the rest of your body. It can act as a mirror for underlying medical conditions present elsewhere in your body. This is why not one but three of some of the country’s most respected dental/medical organizations (the American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics) encourage every mother to see the dentist, especially during the earlier phases and stages of your pregnancy. It’s important to address any issues early for improved health for you and your baby.

By now, you probably know how crucial it is to see your Sacramento dentist throughout your pregnancy along with maintaining your brushing and flossing routine at home. No matter where you are in the course of your pregnancy, we hope you’ll give us a call to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your smile health. We’ll be here to help you every step of the way on your beautiful pregnancy journey!

Why It’s Important Not to Ignore Your Snoring

couple snoringThink back to the last time you woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on your daily demands. It’s so nice to have the energy and mindful clarity to help you be productive and make the most of your day. Has it been a while since you felt like this? Does your bed partner complain because your snoring keeps them up at night?

Your Sacramento dentist will tell you that if snoring is disrupting your life (and your family’s sleep), it might be time to consider learning more about something called sleep apnea. It could be the annoying (and dangerous) condition that’s keeping you and the ones you love from enjoying a peaceful, rejuvenating night’s sleep. Let’s take learn more about sleep apnea, its symptoms, and side effects.

What is Sleep Apnea?

If you think snoring while sleeping isn’t that common, think again! The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates nearly 90 million Americans are snoring away while trying to achieve a healthy night’s sleep. Sometimes snoring is just that, and people who have this condition are called “simple snorer’s” or primary snorers. This generally true for about half of the 90 million people sawing logs at night.

But for the other half, there’s a good chance they’re struggling with a more serious sleep disorder known as sleep apnea without even knowing it. Sleep apnea is dangerous because you can wake up as many as 100 times during the night, stop breathing, snore loudly, and struggle to regain a normal breathing pattern – and you don’t even know it!

Are There Different Kinds of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is usually classified in two distinctively different ways:

1) Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – This is, by far, the most common form of sleep apnea being diagnosed across the country today. If you or someone in your household is diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s usually caused by a blocked airflow during sleep due to your soft tissue collapsing in the back of your throat. At our dental office in Sacramento, we’ll always tell you to seek help if you or someone in your family continues to have issues with snoring.

2) Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea is more difficult to diagnose because it involves a specific problem with how your brain signals your breathing muscles to respond. Unlike OSA, your airway isn’t blocked. In this case your brain fails to signal your muscles to breathe. Brain tumors, brain infections, and strokes are often to blame.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Even though snoring can be a big indicator of sleep apnea, it also wreaks havoc on your oral health due to dry mouth because everyone needs saliva in their mouth to help:

  • Rinse and cleanse your teeth to help reduce plaque build-up
  • Wash away food particles leftover from brushing and flossing
  • Remove dead cells that can lead to sore, infections, and bad breath
  • Neutralize acids that cause plaque and erode your tooth enamel

Our Sacramento dental office will always go out of our way to keep you and your smile healthy. If you think snoring is affecting your teeth, don’t hesitate to talk to us. We’re always happy to help and answer any questions you may have.

What to Do About Sensitive Teeth

sensitive toothIf thinking about indulging in a cold bowl of ice cream or sipping on a cup of hot tea makes you wince in pain, you may be suffering from sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is nothing to take lightly. It can keep you from enjoying some of your favorite foods or drinks, and it can certainly cause some severe pain. Our dental office in Sacramento understands how frustrating and uncomfortable sensitive tooth pain can be, and we’re here to help.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

There are several typical causes of sensitive teeth including:

  • Decay or cavities
  • Chipped or fractured teeth
  • Gum disease

All of these causes result in the tooth’s roots becoming exposed, and that’s where all the pain stems from. Healthy, decay-free teeth have a hard protective shell of enamel that shields the roots and inner nerves from being exposed. However, if this enamel is compromised by either decay or injury, the roots and nerves are left wide open to the elements. Similarly, gum disease often goes hand-in-hand with gum recession and can also expose roots and cause pain. However, there are things you can do to help ease this pain and get some relief.

At-Home Remedies to Sensitive Teeth

The best thing you can do at home to protect your teeth against sensitivity is to follow a proper oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing daily. This reduces the risk of decay and, in turn, sensitivity. Additionally, make sure you’re using the right tools to further protect your teeth. Select a toothbrush with soft bristles to get a thorough clean while also taking it easy on your enamel, and consider a toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth. Lastly, don’t scrub your teeth too hard. Using too much pressure while brushing could lead to gum recession as well as enamel erosion, both of which greatly increase the risk of sensitivity.

When to See Your Dentist in Sacramento

There are times when professional intervention is appropriate to relieve tooth sensitivity. Your dental team will be able to make the best recommendation for you based on what’s causing the pain in the first place. Some treatment options may include:

Living with sensitive teeth isn’t something that you need to continue to suffer through. There are ways that you can relieve your pain once and for all so you can start enjoying your favorite foods again. Call our Sacramento dental office to schedule an appointment with us today.

How Does Oral Health Affect Heart Health?

heart monthFebruary marks the beginning of a month-long dedication to heart health. It’s officially known as American Heart Month, and its purpose is to raise awareness of the risks associated with heart disease. Many people know that things like smoking and a poor diet can cause troubles with the heart, but at our dental office in Sacramento, we also know that your oral health can affect your heart health.

The Mouth is the Window to Whole-Body Health

You may have heard the expression that the eyes are the window to the soul, and while that may be true, another part of your body can tell you a lot about your overall wellbeing. The truth is, your mouth can give your dentist in Sacramento insight to other problems that may be going on in the rest of your body. More specifically, researchers have found a connection between gum disease and an increased risk for heart disease.

More About Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious dental problem that requires early treatment to resolve. Without proper intervention, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other health concerns throughout the body. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) has concluded that people who have gum disease are at increased risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. This happens because the bacteria that cause gum disease have a pretty easy path into the bloodstream and can raise the levels of something called C-reactive protein (CRP). High levels of CRP can cause some scary problems such as:

  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Inflamed arteries
  • Heart attack

Signs of Gum Disease

Some of the most common signs of gum disease are easy to explain away and some may think they’re actually normal. However, any of the following signs could mean that you may have gum disease.

  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Consistently bad breath
  • Chronic bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth

If you notice any of the signs of gum disease, it’s important to see your Sacramento dentist as soon as possible.

The team at our Sacramento dental office wants to encourage all of our patients and neighbors to practice a good oral hygiene routine at home as well as get professional teeth cleanings and dental checkups at least twice a year. These appointments can help catch and treat gum disease before it has a chance to cause bigger, more serious complications.  

Don’t leave your heart at risk, call to schedule an appointment today.

Can Dental Problems Be Linked to Vitamin Deficiencies?

vitamins in palmWe are well into winter, and that typically means we spend less time soaking up the sun, and in turn, our bodies get less vitamin D. While there’s a well-known link between overall health and even happiness and vitamin D, it may surprise you learn that there’s also a strong correlation between a lack of vitamin D and oral health problems. Our dental office in Sacramento wants to help our patients not only understand why vitamin D is so important for oral health but also learn other ways (besides sunshine) to get it.

Why is Vitamin D Important?

Getting a healthy dose of vitamin D daily not only helps boost our immune systems, but it can also help keep us healthier. Vitamin D keeps blood pressure low, aids the pancreas in producing insulin, and lowers the risk for infections including, but not limited to, gum disease. However, when we aren’t getting enough vitamin D, our bodies and teeth are at risk.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, increased risk for type 1 diabetes, and even breast, colon, or prostate cancer. But the dangers don’t end there. Numerous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency also increases the risk of dental decay. This is because vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate — both of which are crucial for building and keeping strong tooth enamel. Without an adequate intake of vitamin D, our teeth are at risk for weakening and developing cavities.

Where to Get Vitamin D

The sun is a great way to fuel our bodies with vitamin D. But during winter months it becomes difficult to spend time outside enjoying the sun’s rays. To compensate, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D from somewhere else. Some great ways to keep up with your vitamin D intake is by:

  • Eating Eggs and Fatty Fish
  • Drinking Milk
  • Taking Supplements

Don’t Forget the Calcium

Perhaps vitamin D’s most important job is helping us absorb calcium. The truth is, without vitamin D our bodies don’t absorb nearly enough calcium to protect our bones (and our teeth!) from deterioration. Make sure to pair foods high in vitamin D with those containing a lot of calcium such as:

  • Dairy products
  • Leafy green veggies
  • Nuts

Providing your body with the right amount of vitamin D is important not only for your body but also for your oral health. Make sure your diet is packed with enough vitamin D and calcium to protect your smile. As always, our dental office in Sacramento is here to help get and keep your smile healthy for life.

Root Canals Are Painful, And Other Dental Myths

frustrated woman

When it comes to dentistry, there are many common myths and misconceptions that could actually hurt your smile and oral health rather than help. At our dental office in Sacramento, we believe in preventive dentistry and giving professional dental advice in order to protect your teeth. That’s why we want to debunk several of the most common dental myths we often hear about.

Myth: Root Canals Hurt

When patients are told that they need to have a root canal, the first reaction we usually get is fear over the pain they think they’re about to endure. The truth is, root canals have a bad reputation that just isn’t true. Many times when a root canal is needed it’s because a tooth has severe decay. This decay can cause some serious pain and sensitivity. Root canal treatment actually relieves that pain by removing infected parts of the inner tooth — the source of pain. A root canal is a common procedure done under local anesthetic and is completely pain-free.  

Myth: Lemon Juice Can Whiten Teeth

Thanks to the popularity of the internet and people from all backgrounds sharing “life hacks” on social media platforms, it’s not surprising to hear of DIY tooth whitening methods. One, in particular, that’s concerning to your dentist in Sacramento is using lemon juice to remove tooth staining. In actuality, lemon juice is highly acidic and using it in an attempt to brighten your smile can cause irreversible damage to your tooth enamel. Once acid eats away the protective enamel, teeth are exposed to harmful bacteria and plaque. This increases your risk of cavities and decay.

Myth: Baby Teeth Aren’t That Important

Since baby teeth are meant to fall out, many people assume that it doesn’t matter when we lose them. However, quite the opposite is true. Baby teeth are important for several reasons including holding the space for permanent adult teeth, helping develop speech, and aiding in chewing. When baby teeth are lost before their natural time, nutrition can be affected, speech difficulties may develop, and teeth may start to shift and become crooked.

Myth: You Don’t Need to go to The Dentist if You’re Not in Pain

One of the biggest myths out there is that you only need to see a dentist when you’re experiencing a problem. In fact, seeing the dentist regularly can greatly help prevent a problem from ever happening. Regular dental cleanings and checkups can diagnose any problems early when treatment is easier and less expensive.

When it comes to your dental health, trust the professionals. If you have any questions about how to best care for your smile or if it’s time for a checkup, call our Sacramento dental office to schedule an appointment today.

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.