Santa Cruz Family Dentists | Smile With Confidence in Santa Cruz

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All Posts Tagged: oral hygiene

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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What’s that smell?

Chronic bad breath is not normal

Did you just pop a breath mint?  Are you a person who constantly has a stock pile of gum and mouth rinse, but find that they don’t really work?  Most mouth rinses and mints are designed as a cosmetic fix and might help if its is something you ate, however, chronic bad breath can be the sign of something more complex than what you had for lunch.

Obviously, certain foods such as garlic and onions can make ones breath a bit questionable.  After eating, these foods are absorbed in the blood stream and transfered to the lungs.  Exhalation allows the residual smell to escape the body.   Brushing, flossing and mouth rinse will serve as a cosmetic fix, but the smell will last until those onions make it all the way through the digestive tract.

I didn’t eat anything smelly

Another cause of bad breath can be xerostomia, or dry mouth.  Lack of moisture in the mouth causes bacteria and food that would normally be sent down your throat with excess saliva to build up and smell bad.  Dry mouth can be caused by numerous medications, salivary gland problems and mouth breathing.  Often times,  a prescription for artificial saliva can help with these conditions.

Lack of brushing and flossing can lead to excess food and bacteria building up in the gum tissues.  The food collects around the teeth and rots releasing an unpleasant odor.  This can lead to Periodontal Disease.  Deep pockets, left uncleaned, come complete with a supply of rotting food for bacteria to proliferate.  Uncontrolled Periodontal Disease can lead to bone and tooth loss.

Bad breath can also be a sign of other health concerns including respiratory infection, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorder or kidney ailment.  In this case a referral to a medical doctor for additional treatment might be necessary.

What can I do?

Keys to great smelling breath include regular visits to your dentist.  Regular cleanings will keep your mouth cleaned up and can head-off potential problems.    In-between visits, make sure to brush your teeth and tongue.  Floss regularly and if you sense your breath might be less than par, don’t hesitate to schedule a quick visit at the office.   For those of you with dentures, make sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly.  Remember, a visit here could put those mints to rest.

To your health,

Dr. Bob

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