Patient Education

Toothaches

To prevent tooth decay, use good oral hygiene. A low sugar diet is recommended along with regular flossing, brushing with fluoride toothpaste and regular professional cleaning. Sealants and fluoride applications by the dentist are important for preventing tooth decay.
Call your dentist if you have a persistent or severe toothache for more than a day or two or if you have a fever, earache, or pain upon opening the mouth wide. If the problem is referred pain from another location, you may need to see your primary health care provider. top

Plaque

Plaque is a film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and gums after eating foods that produce acids. These foods may include carbohydrates (starches and sugars), such as candy and cookies, and starchy foods such as bread, crackers and cereal. Plaque and bacteria begin to accumulate within twenty minutes after eating, the time when most bacterial activity occurs.

Tooth decay leads to cavities and occurs when plaque remains on your teeth for an extended period, allowing the bacteria to “eat away” at the surfaces of your teeth and gums. The areas surrounding restored protions of teeth (where dentist place fillings or amalgams from older dental methods) are particularly vulnerable to decay and are a breeding ground for bacteria.

Plaque can lead to gum irritation, soreness and redness. Sometimes, your gums may begin to bleed because of plaque. This gradual degeneration can often cause gums to pull away from the teeth. Long-term, plaque can lead to serious problems. Sometimes, the bacteria can form pockets of disease around tooth structures, eventually destroying the bone beneath the tooth. top

Dental Diseases

Dentistry treats three disease processes:

1. Decay (cavities) – a bacterial infection of the hard tooth structure. This is the major cause of tooth los I children and the major cause of root canal infections in adults.
2. Periodontal (gum) disease – a bacterial infection of the soft tissues surrounding the tooth and the supporting bone (the tooth socket). This is the major cause of bad breath, bleeding gums and tooth loss in adults.
3. Traumatic Occlusion (a bad bite) – a human bite exerts 200 pounds per square inch of pressure. An improperly positioned tooth within the dental arch absorbs more of that biting pressure than it should. This can greatly accelerate the rate of progression of periodontal disease.

It is critical to understand that the absence of pain does not indicate the absence of disease. Proper diagnosis is the only way to identify these disease processes early and treat them preventively. top

Diet & Dental Health

Together, a balanced diet, daily use of fluoride and effective brushing and flossing can reduce the risk of or even prevent infectious dental disease.

A health immune system is essential to controlling periodontal disease. Diets, low in certain nutrients, reduce resistance to oral and dental infections, that is, periodontal disease (gum disease) and decay.

Bottle or municipal water supplies may not adequately supply the trace nutrient fluoride. Supplementation with oral tablets and topical application will reduce the incidence of dental decay by more than 60%.

Dietary sugars and starches (carbohydrates) increase the risk of tooth decay. The type of carbohydrate and the timing and frequency of ingestion are more important than the amount. Sticky foods are more harmful than non-sticky foods because they remain on the surface of the teeth. Frequent snacking increases the time that acids are in contact with the surface of the tooth. top

Bad Breath Causes and Cures

An estimated 65% of Americans have bad breath. Over 40 million Americans have “chronic halitosis,” which is persistent bad breath. Ninety percent of all halitosis is of oral origin. Americans spend more than $1 billion a yer on over the counter halitosis products, many of which are ineffective because they only mask the problem.

Good oral hygiene and regular visits to a dentist are the most effective methods of reducing bad breath. In addition, to improve most cases of bad breath, the goal is to decrease mouth bacteria and increase saliva. Here are some methods to help you reduce bad breath:

• Drink more water
• Reduce stress
• Quit smoking
• Gently brush your tongue after you brush your teeth
• Cut down on onions, garlic, dairy, alcohol, coffee
• Avoid sugary breath mints and gum
• Chew sugarless gum instead
• Do not sue mouthwash that contains alcohol
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Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are third molars. The first molars usually grow into the mouth at around 6 years of age. The second molars grow in at around age 12. The third molars usually will try to grow in at around age 18 to 20 years. That is the age when people become “wiser”, so third molars gained the nickname, “wisdom teeth”. They are just as useful as any other tooth if they grow in properly, have a proper bite relationship and have healthy gum tissue around them. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

When wisdom teeth cannot fit into the mouth properly, we call them “impacted”. A dentist must examine a patient’s mouth and his or her x-rays to determine improperly growing or impacted teeth. Impacted teeth can result in infection, decay of adjacent teeth, gum disease or formation of cyst or tumor.

Many dentists recommend removal of impacted wisdom teeth to prevent potential problems. Wisdom tooth extraction involves accessing the tooth through the soft and hard tissue, gently detaching the connective tissue between the tooth and the bone and removing the tooth. top

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer, with roughly 40,000 new cases reported annually in the United States. I not diagnosed and treated early, oral cancer can spread, which may lead to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery and even death.

The vast majority of oral cancers occur in people older than 45 years. Men are twice as likely as women to develop the disease. When tobacco use and alcohol use are combined, the risk of oral cancer increases 15 times more than non-users of tobacco and alcohol products. Some symptoms include:

• A sore or lump on the lip, mouth or throat that does not heal
• A white or red patch on the gums, tongue , or lining of the mouth
• Unusual bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth
• A feeling that something is caught in the throat
• Difficulty or pain with chewing or swallowing
• Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly
• A change in the voice
• Pain in the ear
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Gum Disease

Gum Disease o periodontal disease is a chronic inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissue. It is the major cause of about 70% of adult tooth loss, affecting three out of four persons at some point in their life.

Bacterial plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. If daily brushing and flossing do not remove the plaque, it hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus (also known as tartar). Toxins produced and released by bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. These toxins cause the breakdown of the fibers that hold the gums tightly to the teeth, creating periodontal pockets that fill with even more toxins and bacteria. As the disease progresses, pockets extend deeper and the bacteria moves down until it destroys the bone holding the tooth in place. The tooth eventually will fall out or require extraction.

In early stages, most treatment involves removing plaque and calculus around the tooth and smoothing the root surfaces. More advanced cases may require surgical treatment, which involves cutting the gums and removing the hardened plaque build-up and re-contouring the damaged bone.top

Snoring

If you snore, you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose when you sleep. There are several causes of snoring, but the most common cause is the lack of volume, or not enough room in your mouth for your tongue. The causes of loss of volume in your mouth can be several, but usually it is due to wearing of your teeth and insufficient arch size. The back of the tongue then blocks the airway against the back of your throat.

The muscles in the soft tissues in a snorer’s throat and mouth relax during sleep, making the breathing airway smaller. The space becomes constricted and the speed of air flowing through it increases, causing soft tissue to vibrate – excess body weight or use of alcohol and sedatives can further increase the severity.

A dentist-prescribed anti-snore oral device, which comfortably positions the lower jaw into a forward position, can help you stop snoring. The device increases the airway space and reduces air velocity, soft tissue vibration, and snoring up to 85% or more. The device can allow a person who snores to enjoy the benefits of a better and more restful night’s sleep. top

Cavity Prevention

The best way to prevent cavities is to brush and floss on a regular basis. Fluoride is a natural substance that also helps re-mineralize the tooth structure. Community water systems add fluoride and it remains a main ingredient in toothpaste. If you are at medium to high risk for cavities, your dentist may recommend special high concentration fluoride gels, mouth rinses, or dietary fluoride supplements. You may even receive a treatment of professional strength anti-cavity varnish, or sealants, which are thin, plastic coatings that provide an extra barrier against food an debris.

Avoid frequent consumption of high sugar foods, especially sticky foods because the longer the food stays on your teeth and gums, the greater the likelihood a cavity will form. Choose healthy, low-sugar snacks instead.

Saliva is your body’s best mechanism for fighting the destructive forces of acids formed by plaque. Saliva acts as a buffer and re-mineralizing agent. Sugarless gum is one way to stimulate the flow of saliva in your mouth between brushings. top

Diabetes

Studies have shown that diabetics are more susceptible to the development of oral infections and periodontal disease than those who do not have diabetes. Oral infections tend to be more severe in diabetic patients than in non-diabetic patients. Diabetics who do not have good control over their blood sugar levels tend to have more oral health problems. These infections occur more often after puberty and in aging patients.

Diabetics may experience diminished salivary flow and burning mouth or tongue. Dry mouth may also develop, causing an increased incidence of decay. Gum recession has been found to occur more frequently in diabetics because plaque responds differently, creating more harmful proteins in the gums.

Diet and exercise may be the most important changes that diabetics can make to improve their quality of life and their oral health. Diabetics who receive good dental care and have good insulin control typically have a better chance at avoiding gum disease. If you are diabetic, make sure to take extra good care of your mouth and have dental infections treated immediately. top

Schedule Your Appointment

Thank you for choosing us to be your dental health care providers in the San Diego area. Following a good oral hygiene routine and receiving regular dental check ups are ways to keep your healthy smile.


Call (858) 350-7400 Click to Request an Appointment

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