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How Much Do You Know About Remineralization?

This Irvine dentist has often talked about the importance of enamel in protecting the structure and health of our teeth, but how closely have you been listening?

To test your knowledge on remineralization, see if you can answer the questions below. If you can, you deserve a pat on the back from your Irvine dentist!

1) True or False: Remineralization means to re-grow tooth enamel.

2) True or False: The hard layer that fills the tooth, below the enamel coating, is called the cementum.

3) True or False: You should keep your mouth dry while teeth remineralize so the mineral bonds can attach.

4) True or False: Demineralization is rate and only occurs due to extreme wear-and-tear.

Answers are below:

1) False. This process means to strengthen the enamel by putting minerals back into the teeth. It is not possible to re-grow enamel after breakage or erosion.

2) False. It is called dentin. Cementum is another layer which surrounds the roots.

3) False. The opposite is true. Saliva should be flowing in order to supply appropriate amounts of calcium and phosphates for remineralization!

4) False. Demineralization is continually happening as food and drinks create different reactions on the surfaces of the teeth.

For more information on how to take care of your smile, contact your Irvine dentist today at (949) 857-1270.

The Big C-Word

Cancer is the kind of word that can send shivers through anyone’s spine—this Irvine dentist included. Like the many forms of this horrible disease, oral cancer—also known as mouth cancer—can have long-lasting physical and emotional effects on its victims. Still, these survivors can be considered ‘lucky’ in some ways because oral cancer can be fatal.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 36,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2010, and almost 8,000 deaths were directly associated with it. So how does oral cancer develop? Cells that form malignant tumors attack healthy tissues in the oral cavity—this includes the lips, the lining inside the lips and cheeks, the floor of the mouth, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the hard palate, the uvula, teeth, gums and even salivary glands.

The mouth is a region that is very susceptible to infection, as it is the entrance to the rest of the body. Therefore it is extremely important to be careful and watchful of any symptoms. Some symptoms include: persistent earaches, white or red patches in the mouth, and abnormal lumps and bleeding. With that said, part of being watchful is going to see your Irvine dentist, as he or she is the one who will be the most likely to detect it first.

In addition, being aware of the risk factors will help reduce chances of cancer. Tobacco use is a major contributor, with more than 90 percent of all oral cancers being attributed to some tobacco use. Frequent alcohol consumption is also a red flag, as is the combination of the two. Being male is an indicator too, as they are twice as likely to develop mouth cancer compared to women. Another factor is age, especially for those over 35. Other factors include: excessive exposure to the sun, poor diet and HPV infection.

For more information on risks and signs of oral cancer, contact your local Irvine dentist today at (949) 857-1270.

Pregnancy and Dental Care

I know that this Irvine family dentist has no first hand knowledge when it comes to pregnancy, but what I do know is that pregnancy is a beautiful journey that ends with a beautiful gift: a baby. This journey is unique and often times filled with weird cravings, swollen feet and of course a swarm of other specific issues.

Some of these issues happen to be dental! The reality is this: pregnancy can lead to a number of dental problems in women, including gum disease; as well as increased risk of tooth decay. This is because when a woman is pregnant, hormone levels increase; which can typically sometimes worsen your body’s response to plaque.

That is not to say that pregnancy automatically ruins smiles. That old wives tale about tooth loss for each baby born is completely false. However, that being said, this Irvine family dentist still likes to take certain precautions. Some of these are increasing your supplement of Vitamin D and Calcium. Others are exercising proper dental hygiene (i.e.—brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly). Also, when at the dentist, be sure to mention that you’re not glowing due to a recent Caribbean vacation! Remember that the demands of pregnancy on the body should not be overlooked! It is estimated that about 18 out of every 100 premature births are triggered by periodontal disease!

For more information on pregnancy and oral health, contact your Irvine family dentist today at (949) 857-1270!

Smoking and Oral Health

I know that this Irvine dentist has already gone on and on about the perils of smoking and dental health, but let me remind you again anyway. Smoking causes a number of dental problems, such as: bad breath, tooth discoloration, inflamed salivary glands, increased plaque, loss of bone, increased risk of gum disease, and increased risk of oral cancer, etc.

How does smoking do this? Well, let me explain. Smoking and other products of tobacco lead to gum disease by affecting bone and soft tissue attachment in the teeth. Specifically, smoking interferes with the function of gum tissue cells, which makes it more susceptible to injury and disease. Cigarettes are not the only kind of tobacco product that creates health problems. In fact, pipes and cigars also lead to oral health issues. According to a 23-year old study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, cigar smokers experienced same levels of tooth loss as cigarette smokers!

This Irvine dentist has even more bad news. Those who are buying into the smokeless tobacco are in for a shock. Smokeless tobacco products also irritate gum tissue and cause tissue recession. What this ultimately means is that teeth are more susceptible to decay. Therefore the only way to protect your teeth against tobacco is to not use it! For more information on the effects of tobacco on teeth and how to quit, contact your Irvine dentist today at (949) 857-1270 for more resources!

Stuck in Between

Being stuck is never a good feeling, whether it be being stuck in traffic, stuck on a homework problem or in the case of this Orange county dentist stuck in a pair of jeans after a long weekend of snacking! Another ‘stuck’ problem is when food gets stuck in between teeth! It’s a horrible feeling, that not only doesn't look great, but it also has really negative health consequences.

Let this Orange county dentist explain! When food gets in between teeth, it acts as a source of food for the bad bacteria living in our mouths. When the bacteria consume these foods in our mouth, they produce an acid that wears down the enamel in our teeth and causes tooth decay—ultimately making our pretty smile, not so pretty.

Some of the top foods that get stuck-in-between (and should be avoided) are: corn, taffy, tenderloin (meats in general), popcorn, and toffee! However, if these items do happen to get stuck, just follow these easy tips: rinse your mouth (gurgle if necessary), floss, and brush! Easy as can be!

For more information on dental care, contact your Orange county dentist today at (949) 857-1270!

Happy Independence Day!

The Fourth of July conjures up a whole batch of images for this Irvine dentist, including: barbeques, fireworks, melting ice cream cones, and of course Will Smith defending America from invading aliens—all the more reason to celebrate! Our founding fathers worked hard to free us from British rule, so it makes sense for us to enjoy ourselves. With that said, let’s not get too crazy and forget about our oral health!

Here are some tips from this Irvine dentist, to keep your 4th of July smile sparkling:

1) Stay away from hard or crunchy foods

Barbeques are renowned for crunchy things to snack on. Some of these items are: ice, chips and pretzels. Sometimes biting down too hard or the wrong way can chip teeth, and we definitely don’t want that!

2) Bring some gum

Fourth of July snacking usually ends up being a gateway to all day snacking. To help keep your teeth clean, without a toothbrush, chew on sugarless ADA approved gum. This will remove particles, while stimulating saliva production that will rinse away food too!

3) Drink some H20!

Water not only keeps the breath fresh, but it also helps neutralize acids that cause tooth decay. So drink enough in between snacking.

4) Don’t open Beer with Your Teeth

It sounds like a ridiculous request, but it happens more often than thought. Beer bottle teeth injuries actually comprise of a large percentage of BBQ-related dental issues, so just don’t do it!

For more information on how to keep your smile healthy, contact your Irvine dentist today at (949) 857-1270.

Cough Syrup Cavities: A Reality

Although the first day of summer has arrived, this Irvine family dentist likes to keep with the motto, “better safe than sorry.” Unfortunately, even with the sun heating up there are never any guarantees of staying free of coughs, colds and the flu, which make our lives so miserable! To help ourselves heal quickly we often times reach for over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms, but next time you do keep this in mind: Mary Poppins wasn’t wrong when she said a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!

One unmentioned side effect of medicine is tooth decay because many cough drops and liquid medications contain certain variety of ingredients that make your teeth susceptible to decay.

These ingredients include:

  • High fructose corn syrup and sucrose—nope they’re not just in your Twinkies. These ingredients are the major source for the bacteria in your mouth, which form acids to break down tooth enamel.
  • Citric acid, which also wears down enamel.
  • Alcohol, not a total surprise with popular culture displaying it as a possible substitute for drinks. Lil’ Wayne—anyone? I know, how does this Irvine family dentist even know?
In addition, the risks for tooth decay are magnified if medicine is taken before bedtime. In fact it can be seen as the equivalent to drinking juice or soda before sleep—due to the lessened amount of saliva produced during sleep, which usually helps rinse sugars away.

So what is the solution? Just stop taking medicine? Absolutely not! Some helpful ways to reduce decay are to: take medication at meal times, brush your teeth after medicine or rinse well, and if possible take the pill form of your medication if that is available.

For more information on cough syrup and decay, contact your Irvine family dentist today at (949) 857-1270!

Does Your Gum Get ADA Approval?

Chewing gum can be an ingrained habit for many of us Americans. It helps keep our breath fresh, it staves off hunger and it’s just plain old fun to chew—at least for this Orange county dentist. Despite gum seeming like a modern day invention, it actually has roots since the ‘ancient times’—in various forms, of course.

The Greeks chewed something called mastiche, a sap from the mastic tree. While, the ancient Mayans liked to chew on the sap of the sapodilla tree, called tsicite. Native Americans from the New England area even chewed sap from the spruce tree—a habit they passed on to the European settlers. Now a day, gum isn’t usually made of sap from a tree. Instead the base is a blend of synthetic materials, like resins and waxes.

What’s even more exciting about chewing gum is that it has been demonstrated that it can protect teeth, so it’s not just a sweet treat! This, of course, only applies to gums that contain the American Dental Association’s seal. So, what does chewing gum actually do? Let this Orange county dentist tell you!

The act of chewing increases saliva flow in the mouth, which is especially helpful after eating. This increased flow of saliva helps neutralize and wash away acids that break down tooth enamel and causes decay. Increased saliva flow has also been shown to carry more calcium and phosphate to strengthen the enamel, with clinical studies showing that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes, after a meal, to be helpful in preventing tooth decay.

Again not all types of gum are applicable. It must be sugar free and contain the ADA’s seal of approval. For more information on what chewing gums are appropriate, contact your Orange county dentist today at (949) 857-1270.

Happy Father's Day

Every June this Irvine dentist, along with millions of others, celebrates a special person in our lives—the person who cheered us on at little league, the one who taught us how to drive and the one who gave us a pat on the back when we needed it most; we celebrate our fathers.

Some people will buy their pop a fancy tie, some fishing gear, or even host a nice barbeque! The manner in which we show our appreciation will differ, but the sentiment will be the same. We appreciate the time, effort and love they have put into this special relationship. To carry this important relationship into the future, it is important to safeguard our fathers’ health; this includes oral health!

This Irvine dentist will give you some tips on how to keep dear old dad healthy through the years.

1) If your dad is a big BBQ fan—well that’s fantastic. Protein is an essential part of our diet and some studies even show that a diet high in protein versus carbohydrates will amount to less plaque. However, the problem with BBQ can be the sauce. Many bastings are high in sugar content, which the bad bacteria in our mouths love. To reduce sugars, try dry rubbing with seasoning or lemon juice. If dad needs that BBQ sauce, make sure he rinses his mouth after eating.

2) Some dads like to go hunting and in effect they like to make some tasty jerky! Jerky is a healthy snack and more nutritious than say a candy bar. However, Jerky can also get stuck in between teeth. Therefore, after snacking remember to floss and rinse thoroughly to prevent decay.

3) Alcohol is a nice way to wind down a celebratory evening. However, it can also be quite acidic and thus cause damage to our enamel. This isn’t to say to skip the beer altogether. Go ahead and enjoy, just try to limit yourself. Your teeth and liver will thank you in the long run!

4) That Lazy Boy you got your pops for Christmas was probably well appreciated, but it probably doesn’t help motivate him to get off the couch! They are just too comfortable, aren’t they? However, ensuring that your dad gets enough exercise is good for the heart, as well as the teeth and gums!

For more tips on oral health, contact your Irvine dentist today at (949) 857-1270!

A Summer at the Movies

If I haven’t said it enough, summer time is one of my favorite times! One specific reason that makes this Irvine dentist a big fan is the number of blockbuster hits available during the summer time. I mean the movies are just jam-packed with hits this time around aren’t they? The lights from the silver screen, the crisp sound of the speakers, and the plush red seats are all appealing, but the cinema going experience wouldn’t be quite complete without a snack to keep all 5 senses entertained.

Tradition dictates soda, popcorn and some candy. However, tradition can be overrated. Besides this being a recipe for a few extra calories and a possible stomach ache, it also means increasing chances of tooth decay. Let me break it down for you:

1) Soda

This carbonated drink just seems so especially refreshing in the air-conditioned rooms of the theatre, but remember to not get too carried away by the acid and sugar content of these drinks! Acid and sugar ruin the protective layer of your teeth, called the enamel and fuels the bad bacteria in your teeth, respectively. Try drinking some carbonated or flavored water instead, but if you must have some Coke—try to remember to rinse after the movie. This will help limit damage to your teeth.

2) Popcorn

If this wasn’t obvious, popcorn is one of the worst snacks to, well, snack on. Common sense probably dictates you to know that anything that sticks to the corners of your teeth can’t be good for you. However, this Irvine dentist understands the appeal of a little crunch in your life. First try an alternative, maybe a pretzel or even chips. Popcorn kernels are hard to floss out and unpopped kernels can even crack your teeth. If this snack is unavoidable, rinse and bring some floss!

3) Candy

After having a salty snack at the movie theatre, it seems natural for you to want a little bit of sweet in your mouth. If that is the case go for something chocolaty instead of chewy. Chewy tends to get stuck in your mouth and can be difficult to brush out. After getting out of the movie remember to brush your teeth to decrease chances of decay.

For more information on protecting your smile during your movie experience, and all other experiences in life, contact your local Irvine dentist today at (949) 857-1270.