What is a Tooth Abscess?

dentist analyzes x-rayAn abscessed tooth isn’t a very fun topic to talk about, but it is necessary. Many people will experience an abscess in their life as well as the pain that often comes with it. At our dental office in Sacramento, we’re here to share some important information about tooth abscess, so you’re able to recognize the signs and get treatment quickly.

What is an Abscess?

A tooth abscess is a painful collection of pus that’s brought on by a deep tooth infection that has spread into the tooth’s root and even the bone. If treatment is not sought early, the infection can lead to serious problems and perhaps require a tooth extraction.

Signs & Symptoms

Tooth pain is a common sign of an abscess. Other signs and symptoms of an abscess include:

  • Face or jaw swelling
  • Sensitivity with increased pressure
  • A bad taste in your mouth that may taste salty
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or ear

It’s worth noting that, occasionally, an abscess won’t show any symptoms at all. When this happens, your dentist in Sacramento is usually the one to diagnose an abscess at one of your dental checkups through the use of a dental x-ray.

Causes of an Abscessed Tooth

Often untreated decay is the main cause of an abscess. But there are other things can lead to a painful abscess, including an injury to the mouth, certain dental treatments (such as a root canal), crown, or filling, or from clenching or grinding.

Risk Factors

There are several things that can increase your risk of getting an abscess including:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Eating too much sugar
  • Dry mouth
  • Not seeing your dentist in Sacramento every six months

All of these factors increase your risk of decay, and in turn an abscessed tooth.

Prevention

Since many abscesses are caused by untreated decay, the best thing you can do to prevent an abscess is to follow a good oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing every day. It’s also recommended that you visit our dental office in Sacramento at least twice a year for preventative care, professional dental cleanings, and x-rays.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental appointment or you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.

Recognizing the Signs of Oral Cancer

oral cancer awarenessOral cancer is a scary disease that takes the lives of over 8,500 Americans every year. It’s a widespread problem that can be treated, often very successfully, if caught early. The problem is, many people don’t know the signs of oral cancer and may never realize there’s a problem until it’s too late. So in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, our dental office in Sacramento is here to help spread awareness of not only the common signs of oral cancer, but also several risk factors.

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can be crucial in catching and diagnosing the disease early when treatment is most successful. Some of the more common signs of oral cancer include:

  • A chronic sore that doesn’t go away
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • A lump on the cheek or tongue
  • Change in voice

If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist in Sacramento as soon as possible.

Risk Factors

It’s important to note that anyone can get oral cancer. However, there are some things that can put us at more risk of the disease including:

Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.

Age: People over 50 are the most affected by oral cancer.

Tobacco Use: Nearly 80% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are smokers or use smokeless tobacco. Smoking often leads to throat or mouth cancer, and smokeless tobacco usually results in gum, cheek, or lip cancer.

Alcohol: Approximately 70% of all those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.

Limiting your alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products are great ways to reduce your risk of getting oral cancer. But perhaps one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from the dangers of oral cancer is to see your dentist every six months. These visits can help catch any problems early while the chance for successful treatment is greatest.

Every year, over 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer. Of those, 40% won’t survive more than five years. Early detection greatly increases the chance of successful treatment and survival. Schedule a visit with your dentist in Sacramento today.

The Honest Truth About Your Missing Tooth

man missing toothMaybe it’s been a long time since you last visited our dental office in Sacramento for a comprehensive cleaning and checkup. That’s OK! But maybe now you find yourself with a missing tooth, or in danger of having a tooth (or multiple teeth) fall out due to deterioration over time. We’re here to help you understand some possible effective ways dentists choose to fix a missing tooth or teeth.

The Benefits of Fixing Your Missing Tooth

We know it can be embarrassing or even nerve-wracking to see the dentist when your smile is damaged. But doing nothing can make the problem worse and put your remaining healthy teeth in jeopardy. When you fix a missing tooth or multiple teeth, you’re going to:

  • Restore your smile and your confidence
  • Fix any issues with chewing or speaking
  • Help keep the natural shape to your face
  • Help fix your bite’s form and function
  • Keep remaining teeth from moving or shifting over time

You see? The results are just too good to pass up! Isn’t it time you talked to your dentist in Sacramento?

Common Tooth Replacement Options

Depending on your individual needs, there are numerous treatment options delivered with some of dentistry’s most state-of-the-art dental technology for patients of all ages who might be missing a tooth or teeth. We think modern dental care is truly amazing!

  1. Single Dental Implant

A dental implant is a life-changing restoration that actually acts like your missing tooth’s natural roots to help keep your jaw bone stimulated and healthy. You’ll get a custom, tooth-colored crown that will help you be able to finally eat the foods you love, but have been avoiding because of your missing tooth. If taken care of properly, dental implants can last many years if not a lifetime.

  1. Bridge

Just like the name implies, a dental bridge can bridge the gap that’s created when you end up missing a tooth or even multiple teeth. Your dental bridge is usually constructed of two or more crowns that are adjacent to the gap created by a missing tooth. Think of these teeth as anchoring teeth and then you’ll have a customized false tooth or teeth to fill the gap. Sometimes bridges are supported by dental implants; it depends on your oral health goals.

  1. Dentures

When you’re missing multiple teeth, it might be time to talk to us about the amazing ways dentures can give you back a confident, healthy smile. Dentures can be used to replace both upper and lower missing teeth. They’re created to be aesthetically and naturally pleasing, so no one will even know they’re not your real teeth.

Please don’t hesitate to call your Sacramento dentist to schedule a consultation. Together, we can look at your missing tooth or teeth and create a plan for your treatment that works for your budget, your schedule, and your smile.

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.

Stress & Oral Health

woman and stressEven though the craziness of the holidays is behind us, it doesn’t necessarily mean our stress levels have decreased. Everyday life can certainly cause anxiety and contribute to more stress. As many people know, stress can impact our health and overall well-being, but did you know stress can also contribute to oral health problems? Today, the team at our Sacramento dental office will cover some ways your oral health may be affected by stress.

Increased Jaw Pain

When we’re overly stressed, our bodies respond in different ways. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how our bodies are reacting. One common side effect of high stress that can go unnoticed is tooth clenching and grinding. When we continuously grind or clench, we place unnatural, increased force on our teeth and our jaw joints. Not only can this cause teeth to break or chip, but it can also increase jaw pain. If left untreated and clenching and grinding continues, you could develop TMD (also known as TMJ).

Gum Disease

Gum disease is often caused by poor dental hygiene, but there are other factors that can put you more at risk for developing it. Stress just so happens to be one of those things. Studies show a positive link between prolonged exposure to high levels of stress and a greater risk for gum disease. If not treated promptly by your dentist in Sacramento, gum disease can contribute to concerns throughout the body such as heart disease and tooth loss.

Canker Sores

These annoying and often painful sores can seem to pop up out of nowhere, and the truth is nobody truly knows what causes them. However, research has concluded that canker sores seem to have some sort of correlation with both certain foods and also high stress. Unlike cold sores, canker sores aren’t contagious, just annoying, and should go away on their own.

Relax & Protect

The best way to protect your oral health against the damaging effects of stress is to find ways to relax and lower stress levels. Some healthy relaxation methods include:

 

  • Eating. Giving your body the nutrients it needs to function properly can help fight off stress. Balance your diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Sleeping. Many Americans don’t get enough sleep regularly, and when we’re tired our bodies aren’t able to adapt and overcome stressful situations as easily. Try to get the recommended 7-9 hours of shut-eye every night.
  • Moving. Exercising helps our bodies release more endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and testosterone, all of which help make us feel happy and good and lower stress. Go for a walk, hop on a treadmill, or take a yoga class.

 

As you embark on a new year, make a commitment to yourself to keep stress low. Your body and your mouth will thank you.

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.