Santa Cruz Family Dentists | Smile With Confidence in Santa Cruz

Opening Hours : Mon 7AM-5PM; Tu/We/Th 7AM-6PM; Fri 8AM-5PM
  Contact : (831) 316-1580

All Posts in Category: General Health

Stick out your tongue

Stick out your tongue.

How does it look?  Pretty and pink?  Yellow, milky white and coated?  Your mouth is teeming with bacteria that determine whether your teeth fall out or remain pearly white.

600 different species of bacteria in your mouth

Did you know that every drop of saliva contains millions of bacteria and your tongue is like a sponge hanging on to them? Most bacteria live symbiotically in your mouth producing enzymes to break down carbohydrates that aid in digestion and metabolism.  Your mouth is a veritable hot-house for bacterial breeding.  Just think, it’s warm, wet and cozy with an unlimited supply of food and shelter.  That’s great for good bacteria, however it keeps the bad kinds breeding just the same.  Certain bacterium get overgrown when not managed regularly which cover the tongue like a coat.

The truth about the coat

The coating on your tongue can not only look yucky, but it can make you sick.  The bacteria on your tongue contribute to tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease.

Keep the count down

To keep the bacteria at bay, it is important to pay special attention to the strongest muscle in your body.  Make sure not to forget your tongue when brushing.  At many drugstores you can purchase a tongue scraper that will aid in removing some of that build up, however, a kitchen spoon works just as well.   Some patients say they gag too much to even attempt cleaning the tongue, for that Wikihow offers some tips:  http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Gagging-While-Brushing-Your-Tongue.

 

Oral B Tongue Cleaner

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some gadgets that some patients find helpful.

To your health,

Dr. Bob

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Are you a mad snacker?

Are you a mad snacker?   Because I am.  Nothing makes my late afternoon days fly by like a little pick-me-up from the Chocolate Fairy.   Some people reach for an apple, maybe some nuts.  Some like the salty, some like the sweet.  I’ll take the sweet and I am not afraid to admit it.  For me it’s  a tie between the Hot Tamales and the See’s Candy.   It’s no secret that between meal snacks and beverages high in sugar and starch can promote tooth decay.  Yet, as a self admitted mad snacker I cannot condemn my fellow cohorts.  As a dentist, I feel a bit compelled to let you in on my secret.   Xylitol gum.

Not only does it have fewer calories and less effect on blood sugar than sucrose, but xylitol gum has the added benefit of inhibiting the creation of acid in the mouth. Products sweetened with xylitol create an unwelcome environment for bacteria; they simply cannot stick to teeth in a xylitol-rich environment.  This minimizes the damage done to your teeth, as well as allowing your teeth to heal at a faster rate. It allows the teeth to re-mineralize the calcium ions in enamel before dental caries form.

So what’s that all mean?  Chew a piece of xylitol gum after every meal or snack for maximum benefit to your teeth as it may reduce the risk of tooth decay and snack on!


I like the Spearmint Spry, but it comes in other flavors like cinnamon, peppermint, fruit and even green tea.  New Leaf, Staff of Life and Whole Foods all have a version of it, so pick up a pack next time you are in.  They are also putting xylitol in some Tridents now!

If only they could make it taste like chocolate…

To your health,

Dr. Bob

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It’s not “just a cleaning”

So you have been a patient here for years, or maybe you are a new member of the family, either way, do you know really what happens at your teeth cleaning?

If you’re like most people,  the only thing you hear is “cavity” or no cavity.  However, so much more than just the evaluation of tooth decay is going on during those cleanings.  Besides polishing of the tooth’s surface, here’s what’s really going on while your mouth is open…

A review of medical health history

Gums and oral tissues can be greatly affected by changes in your medications or health and  can cause pocketing, dry mouth, or tooth and bone loss.

Blood pressure screening

High blood pressure has been labeled “the silent killer.”  People with elevated blood pressure often don’t know until they have suffered a heart attack or stroke.  Your health and safety is of the utmost importance to us.

American Cancer Society Oral Cancer Exam, Soft Tissue and Hard tissue Exam

Who looks in your mouth more than us?  Regular cancer screenings check for abnormalities or changes in cheeks, gums, tongue, tonsil, and lining of the mouth.  Early detection is the key.  In the United States 3 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every hour, that’s 30,000 Americans every year.

Periodontal exam

Periodontal disease is the #1 leading cause of tooth loss in Americans.  Periodontal disease is an infection of gum tissues.  We take measurements of 6 sites around the teeth to determine the health of the gum tissue and severity of infection.  Early treatment can not only prevent tooth and bone loss, but also save money (and teeth!) in the long run.

TMJ exam

Some say that 20% of the population if affected Tempromandibular Disorder (TMD) which affects the tempromandibular joint.  Early detection can help alleviate major jaw issues in the future including muscle stiffness, locking of the jaw, and changes in the way your teeth fit together.

Occlusal exam

Occlusion is the manner in which the upper and lower teeth come together when the mouth is closed.  Often referred to at the “bite.”  This is super important for not only chewing, but the health of the jaw joint.    A healthy bite means a healthy jaw.

It’s not “just a cleaning”

Every time you open your mouth here at out office rest assured we are looking out for you even when you aren’t entirely aware of it.  Early detection of of high blood pressure can prevent a heart attack.  Early detection of a cavity can prevent a crown.  Early detection of periodontal disease can prevent tooth loss and cardiovascular disease.  Coming to your regularly scheduled cleanings and exams can  spare you unnecessary pain, tooth loss and money with early detection.  Do something good for you, let us keep you healthy.

To your health,

Dr. Bob

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The Wisdom in Teeth

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that generally erupt between ages 17-25, when children pass into early adulthood.   This time period has previously been referred to as “the age of wisdom.”   Subsequently, the third molars have been dubbed wisdom teeth.  Most people have 4, but it is possible to have more as well as none.

Can I keep my wisdom teeth?

Some individuals don’t need to have their wisdom teeth removed.  There are a few factors that influence this:

  • Jaw and mouth size
  • The ability of the teeth to fully erupt
  • The angle in which they are erupting

Sometimes, a patient has room enough to keep 1, 2, or four of the teeth.  A panoramic x-ray will allow the dentist to see if there is room enough for you to keep some or all of them.

Third molars need to be extracted when the mouth and jaw are too small to accommodate the teeth,  or they are unable to fully erupt.  These situations can cause discomfort, swelling and sometimes even cysts.

Where do wisdom teeth come from?

Wisdom teeth were originally designed to take the place of lost or damaged teeth that resulted from a primitive diet of coarse food that contained sand and grit.   Now days, processed diets protect teeth, meaning less are lost and damaged.   There is usually not enough room for the teeth to come all the way in.

Will I need to be put to sleep?

Some patients prefer to be sedated while others are just fine with a local anesthetic such as Novocaine.  Either way extractions can be done right here in our office where you already know the staff and dentist.  Most patients do fine to head back to work or school the next day, but if you want to take an extra day off, we won’t tell.

So if you have been putting off the removal of your third molars, there is nothing to fear!   Dentistry has come a long way from the covered wagon and whiskey days of our parents!  We have a variety of solutions for patients apprehensive about extractions and the skill to make your experience the most comfortable  possible.

To your health,

Dr. Bob

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