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Putting the Brakes on Tooth Decay

This Irvine dentist has a favorite topic on this blog, which is probably fairly obvious. It’s tooth decay. Tooth decay, otherwise known as cavities, is the most commonly seen problem at this dental office, if not most. Often times cavities start long before they are identified. This happens when  we neglect our teeth by not brushing and flossing regularly, which leaves food particles in our mouth that provide fuel for the bad bacteria in our mouth.

 

As the number of bacteria increase, they produce acids that break down the enamel of the tooth. As the enamel wears away, a hole can develop. This is the start of the cavity. This is the point where patients take notice, at least that is what this Irvine dentist has seen! This is for all the wrong reasons, as the tooth starts to become sensitive to touch, heat and cold, painful when you bite down and pus may even form.

The reality is that if left unchecked the cavity would eventually breakdown the entire tooth. Hopefully this point would not be reached. Instead perhaps measures could be taken to stop the cavity from getting worse! Some people seem to believe that treating a cavity via remineralization is a possibility.

 

There is some truth to this. The first stage of a cavity is when a white spot appears on the enamel, which is before it has made a hole. It is at this stage that fluoride treatment may help avoid the dentist drill. However, once the enamel has been penetrated, it is too late. Fluoride can strengthen existing enamel, but it cannot replace what is already gone. So in one sense, yes you definitely can stop a cavity in its tracks, but that takes a certain level of vigilance and a visit to your dentist.

 

 For more information on tooth decay and oral health tips, contact your local Irvine dentist today.

(949) 857-1270


Is Tooth Decay Deadly

When we think of the word deadly, we may think of grizzly bears, snakes, chemicals and incurable life threatening diseases or conditions, but a cavity probably doesn't make the cut. Well this Irvine dentist is here to let you know that although you don’t have to worry about a cavity mauling off your limbs, it is smart to think about the consequences of decay.

 

In fact evidence suggests that what happens in your mouth doesn’t stay in your mouth. Instead, it has far reaching consequences with statistical correlation between poor oral health and heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, cancers, diabetes, respiratory infections and even pregnancy problems.

 

Ongoing research continues to try to ascertain how the bacteria in our mouths invade our bodies, with the link between oral health and cardiovascular problems being one of the most urgent issues. This is because those with gum disease are twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease. Trust this Irvine dentist when I say, you don’t want either!

 

Some theories exist on why one affects the other. One is that oral bacteria enters the bloodstream through stores in bleeding gums and then attach themselves to fatty plaques lining the blood vessels in the heart; which them obstruct blood flow. The other theory is that periodontal bacteria causes arterial inflammation restricts blood flow, which then causes a heart attack.

 

Regardless of which scenario is the reality, both cases are life-threatening and to the point, deadly. For more information on how to reduce risk of decay or infection, contact your local Irvine dentisttoday! 

Cavities Have Class

Common sense dictates that if you neglect your smile by brushing less and eating more sugar, a mouthful of cavities may be coming your way. This Irvine dentist has warned of the perils of a bad oral hygiene routine, but perhaps I have not made clear what you can exactly expect.

Cavities develop when the bad bacteria that lives in your mouth indulges on the leftover sugars and starches that your lunch or dinner may have left behind. As these bacteria digest, acid is produced. This acid in combination with saliva, food particles and the bacteria itself form something called plaque—which eventually wears away at the enamel of the tooth. This process ends in a cavity, which your Irvine dentist will classify.

Cavities develop in several different locations—from the pits and grooves of your teeth to the smoothest of surfaces. What is more common in cavity formation is in the deep grooves of your teeth. This is because food and bacteria can easily be stuck there, and it is harder for these areas to be cleaned properly.

Classification is based on a system that was created back in 1908 by an American dentist named G.V. Black. His system defines five classes of cavities, with a sixth class being added later.

Class I cavities occur in the cracks of your teeth (pits and fissures).

Class II cavities are on the chewing surfaces or, including premolars and molars in the back of the mouth.

Class III can be on the sides of the incisors or the canine teeth which are located in the front of the mouth.

Class IV is similar to III, but it involves an angle where the middle and far side of the teeth connect. This is called the incisal angle.

Class V cavities develop on the surfaces of the teeth, which are closest to the face or tongue. They don’t involve formation on cracks (pits or grooves).

Class VI cavities occur on the edges of the front teeth or even on the back teeth that touch the jaw.

As we mentioned previously, smooth surface cavities aren't as common, but they may be more serious than cavities that occur in the grooves of your teeth because they cover a wider area of your tooth. Typically, the more of your tooth that is involved, the more damage the cavity will do.

It is via this classification system that your dentist will treat you. It helps assess how much damage has taken place and what materials can be used for the best replacement. For more information on cavity classification contact your local Irvine dentist today (949) 857-1270!

Let’s Talk about Plaque

This Irvine family dentist uses the term ‘plaque’ considerably, as it is basically the enemy of the smile, and therefore this dental professional. Plaque is an unwanted guest in our mouths who enters after we consume food. As most people know, plaque is a filmy yellow coating on the teeth. If left alone, it grows and eventually covers every crack, crevice and surface. Even more, it can settle into a hard and crusty layer that can be noticeably felt on the teeth.

To evict plaque from the mouth, a good oral hygiene routine is necessary. Because it is the nature of plaque to stick to the bacteria in the mouth, much effort must be made to be rid of it. This effort requires the right set of tools (floss, toothbrush, toothpaste) and even some allies, this Irvine family dentist for example. 

The reality of plaque is that just after 20 minutes of consuming food; food particles, bacteria and saliva combine to become plaque. This small window of time is when bacteria are most active. Starchy, sugary and foods that have stick factor are ones that contribute most to plaque formation, so avoidance is key. That and of course flossing and brushing regularly, preferably after meal time.

For more information on how to avoid plaque, contact your local Irvine family dentist today at (949) 857-1270. 

Floss and Mouthwash for Kids

As adults we find it necessary to use floss and mouthwash on the regular—at least this Irvine dentist hopes so! However, what about the young people in our lives, the kids? Adults and children are similar in a lot of ways. We both need the basics, such as food, clothing and love; but the difference is in the amount, size and kind; the details.

Before I answer the question of whether the use of floss and mouthwash is needed or recommended in children, this Irvine dentist will discuss why these tools are important for adult oral health. As I hope most of us know, we need to brush our teeth at least twice a day. Still, that isn’t enough. Flossing plays a significant role in dental care, as it removes plaque and food from our teeth—which the bad cavity-causing bacteria in our mouths feed on. Mouthwash is also helpful, not only in keeping our breath minty fresh, but also in removing plaque and killing bacteria--all while guarding the gums against disease.

We go through the routine of dental care to protect ourselves in the long run, but the thing is children’s teeth is that they fall out, so does it even matter to go through such processed to protect them? The answer is most definitely yes. Just like us, children are vulnerable to all kinds of decay and disease. Therefore, the usage of floss and mouthwash can ensure their healthy smiles last, even if they have only a few teeth in their name.

What we have to remember is this. Not only does initiating this oral hygiene process reinforce behavior so that they are responsible for their permanent teeth when they do eventually come in; but it also sets the foundation for healthy teeth growth. You wouldn’t build a house on a shifty foundation now would you?

For more information on a child’s dental care routine, contact your local Irvine dentist today at (949) 857-1270. 

Tooth Decay

As an Irvine dentist, it’s quite a common thing to be talking about tooth decay on a normal day-to-day basis. Usually, I talk about how to prevent decay and what decay actually is. However, I thought I would take the time to discuss another important aspect of decay: why some teeth decay more quickly than others.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that you tend to get cavities in a certain parts of your mouth, perhaps in the back of your mouth, and this Irvine dentist is here to inform on why that is; and what factors inform such processes. 

Decay really depends on the age and lifestyle of the individual. In the case of infants and small children, the most likely cause of cavities are baby-bottle tooth decay. This is primarily developed in the upper front teeth as children sleep with their bottles of juice or milk—leaving sugar on the teeth over night (what the bad bacteria in our mouths live on).

In teens and adults, decay usually occurs in the permanent back teeth. This is because their job is to grind and chew-up food—sealing their fate, so to speak. Furthermore, the pits and fissures in the back teeth allow for food to get stuck and toothbrush bristles can be too large to fit. To prevent decay, at any age, it is essential to limit sugary or starchy foods. A good oral hygiene routine is mandatory as well.

For more information, contact your local Irvine dentist at (949) 857-1270. 

Bad Breath: What You Need to Know

This Orange County dentist will admit that they personally don’t have 24/7 fresh breath. With that said, it is a goal of mine and something I try to keep true to, after all this is my passion! Many a times the concept of bad breath is lost on people (as we all may know), this is due to misconception on how to keep our mouths from being less than pleasant.  Test your knowledge below (with a short quiz) to see how you rank in terms of knowledge.

Questions:

1) True or False: Some people just naturally have bad breath

2) True or False: Mints and gum only temporarily alleviate the smell of bad breath.

3) True or False: Bad breath only comes from the tongue

4) True or False: Bad breath can come from poor oral hygiene. 

Answers:

1) This is absolutely False. This Orange County dentist is here to tell you that halitosis is almost always caused by something simple as what you ate (garlic) to something more serious like a medical condition.

2) True. If the problem is food-related, popping a mint may help. However, chronic bad breath will come back to haunt you.

3) False. Although the tongue is many times the reason behind bad breath, odor can also come from the gums.

4) True. Brushing and flossing are extremely important in preventing decay, as well as halitosis.

For more information on how to keep your mouth fresh, contact your local Orange County dentist today at (949) 857-1270.

What is an Abscessed Tooth?

Back in the day, the toothache used to be one of the worlds most vexing problems. Nowadays, thanks to technology and your Irvine family dentist, these can be annoying but solvable problems. Tooth pain can be attributed to many a thing, one of them being an abscessed tooth.

What is an abscessed tooth? An abscess is a collection of yellowish-white fluid that is surrounded by inflamed tissue. In other words, it’s an infection. An abscessed tooth is most commonly caused by tooth decay, but other culprits include gum disease and teeth trauma. They start when the openings in the tooth enamel allow bacteria to enter and infect the pulp or center of the tooth.

Furthermore, this Irvine family dentist can tell you that the hallmark of the abscessed tooth is a painful throbbing toothache, which is sometimes followed by bad breath, bitter taste, swollen glands or swelling and fever. To treat the tooth, it must be drained through a root canal or incision in the gums or teeth. Antibiotics are often used too.

To reduce risk for abscessed teeth, ensure that you upkeep your teeth with a proper oral hygiene routine. For more information, contact your local Irvine family dentist today at (949) 857-1270.

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.

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!