These are such simple habits but yet important ones for keeping your teeth and gums problem-free.
You’ve been brushing and flossing and caring for your smile for as long as you can remember. It seems pretty simple, right? Well, yes and no. Brushing and flossing doesn’t have to be rocket science but it’s important that you are doing everything you can to keep cavities and gum disease away. Our Apple Valley, CA, dentist, Dr. Samuel Kim, also serving patients in Lucerne Valley, is here to offer up some helpful tips for keeping your oral health in tip-top shape.
Maintain Clean Smiles
Here’s what you should know about keeping your teeth and gums clean:
- You should be brushing at least twice a day (better yet; brush after every meal)
- Floss your teeth daily (ideally, at the end of the evening before you brush)
- Make sure to replace your toothbrush head every three to four months, or once the bristles start to splay out. You should also replace your toothbrush head after an illness.
- When you do brush make sure you are doing it for at least two minutes. If you don’t have an electronic toothbrush with an automatic timer, set a timer yourself.
Don’t Forget About Your Dentist
No matter how busy you are you always need to find time to visit your dentist. If your smile is healthy you should only need to come in every six months. This is a great chance to not only remove plaque and tartar buildup but we can also pick up on subtle changes that could potentially lead to issues down the road if you aren’t careful. Visiting us regularly could mean the difference between a healthy smile and some serious dental problems.
Quit or Avoid Tobacco
If you don’t smoke then this is great news for your oral health, but if you are a smoker it’s time to ditch the habit as soon as possible. Smokers and tobacco users are more likely to develop gum disease, infections, implant failure, oral cancer and a host of other long-term issues. If you are having trouble quitting, talk to our Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley general dentist who can recommend programs and support groups to help.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
As you probably already know, foods that are sugary or starchy aren’t good for your teeth. While we won’t say never to have sugar again (everything is moderation, right?), just be aware of the foods you are eating on a regular basis. Make sure your teeth and gums are getting the nutrients they need and you are maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
Whether you have questions about your at-home oral routine or you need to book your next professional dental cleaning, the friendly dental folks at Apple Valley Dental in Apple Valley, CA, also serving the Lucerne Valley area, are ready to help in any way they can. Call us today!
Drilling teeth is an essential part of repairing and restoring the damage caused by tooth decay. For generations dentists have relied on the dental drill with its rotating burr to remove decayed and damaged tooth material.
But while the dental drill is effective it also has its disadvantages. In the process of removing decayed material it inadvertently removes healthy structure near the target material. It often requires anesthesia to deaden the work area. And its noise and vibration are often unsettling to patients.
There is a growing alternative, though: air abrasion, a technology that's been around since the mid-20th Century. But recent advances in controlling the dust created by using abrasion, as well as new tooth-colored bonding materials to replace tooth structure, have sparked new interest among dentists and patients alike.
Also known as particle abrasion, this drill alternative uses a pressurized stream of fine particles to remove decayed material. Using a hand wand a dentist can precisely aim the stream of particles (usually aluminum oxide) to the specific areas of decay or softened material that need to be removed. As a result, it removes only a fraction of healthy tooth structure compared to traditional drilling. Air abrasion has also proven effective for removing staining without harming enamel.
Air abrasion also eliminates the sound and vibration associated with dental drills, and may not always require local anesthesia. On the other hand, it does have some limitations. For one, it's not as effective with larger cavities or working around older fillings. The tooth or teeth to be worked on must be carefully isolated from the rest of the mouth to keep the patient from swallowing the abrasive particles. And without a high-volume suction pump and good isolation protocols, the particles can produce something of a “sandstorm” in the treatment room.
But as air abrasion continues to advance, we may see improvements in these limitations. In a future time, the traditional dental drill may go the way of the horse and buggy.
If you would like more information on air abrasion as an alternative to drilling, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Air Abrasion Technology.”
In her decades-long career, renowned actress Kathy Bates has won Golden Globes, Emmys, and many other honors. Bates began acting in her twenties, but didn't achieve national recognition until she won the best actress Oscar for Misery — when she was 42 years old! “I was told early on that because of my physique and my look, I'd probably blossom more in my middle age,” she recently told Dear Doctor magazine. “[That] has certainly been true.” So if there's one lesson we can take from her success, it might be that persistence pays off.
When it comes to her smile, Kathy also recognizes the value of persistence. Now 67, the veteran actress had orthodontic treatment in her 50's to straighten her teeth. Yet she is still conscientious about wearing her retainer. “I wear a retainer every night,” she said. “I got lazy about it once, and then it was very difficult to put the retainer back in. So I was aware that the teeth really do move.”
Indeed they do. In fact, the ability to move teeth is what makes orthodontic treatment work. By applying consistent and gentle forces, the teeth can be shifted into better positions in the smile. That's called the active stage of orthodontic treatment. Once that stage is over, another begins: the retention stage. The purpose of retention is to keep that straightened smile looking as good as it did when the braces came off. And that's where the retainer comes in.
There are several different kinds of retainers, but all have the same purpose: To hold the teeth in their new positions and keep them from shifting back to where they were. We sometimes say teeth have a “memory” — not literally, but in the sense that if left alone, teeth tend to migrate back to their former locations. And if you've worn orthodontic appliances, like braces or aligners, that means right back where you started before treatment.
By holding the teeth in place, retainers help stabilize them in their new positions. They allow new bone and ligaments to re-form and mature around them, and give the gums time to remodel themselves. This process can take months to years to be complete. But you may not need to wear a retainer all the time: Often, removable retainers are worn 24 hours a day at first; later they are worn only at night. We will let you know what's best in your individual situation.
So take a tip from Kathy Bates, star of the hit TV series American Horror Story, and wear your retainer as instructed. That's the best way to keep your straight new smile from changing back to the way it was — and to keep a bad dream from coming true.
If you would like more information about orthodontic retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Why Orthodontic Retainers?” and “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.” The interview with Kathy Bates appears in the latest issue of Dear Doctor.
The dental implant is the closest thing in modern dentistry to a natural tooth. This is because an implant replaces more than the visible crown — it also replaces the root, thanks to a metal post imbedded in the bone.
But what if you have a metal allergy — are you out of luck replacing a tooth with an implant? Before answering this question, let's take a closer look at metal allergies.
An allergy is an overreaction of the body's immune system to a particular foreign substance. This response can be as inconsequential as a minor rash or as life-threatening as a shutdown of the body's organ systems. You can be allergic to anything, including metals.
Usually, these allergies are to specific kinds of metals. For example, about 17% of women and 3% of men are allergic to nickel, while smaller percentages are allergic to cobalt or chromium. Most allergic reactions to metal occur from external contact with jewelry or similar metal items that create rashes or other anomalies on the skin. On a more serious note, an allergy to metal in a body replacement part could result in the body rejecting it.
Metals have also played an important role in dental care, particularly dental amalgam used for tooth fillings. Dental amalgam is a mixture of a precious metal like gold or silver with other metals like copper, tin and, in small amounts, mercury. While dental amalgam has been used safely for decades, there have been rare cases of inflammation or rashes.
This brings us to dental implants and the most common metal used in them, titanium. The commercial version of this metal is highly prized in medical and dental applications because it has a special affinity with bone. Bone cells readily grow and adhere to the metal, which strengthens the bond between the implant and the jawbone.
Even if you have a rare allergy to certain metals, it's even rarer that would include titanium. In one particular study of 1,500 implant patients less than 1% reported any reaction at all.
If you're concerned, you can undergo testing to see if you react to titanium. More than likely, though, you'll be able to join the millions of other patients who have successfully restored their smiles with dental implants.
If you would like more information on dental implants as a tooth replacement option, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Metal Allergies to Dental implants.”
Prompt dental care is essential if you have a dental emergency, but it's not always easy to decide if a problem is truly an emergency. Dr. Samuel Kim, your Apple Valley, CA, dentist, describes a few situations that require emergency dental treatment.
Your tooth was knocked out
Any hard blow to your mouth can knock out teeth. Luckily, your tooth may not be lost forever if you receive emergency dental treatment. If you see your dentist within an hour, it may be possible to reimplant your tooth.
Keeping the tooth hydrated while you travel to your emergency appointment is very important. Rinse the tooth in water to remove dirt and gently place it back in the socket. If you can't easily put the tooth in your socket, don't worry. Place it in your mouth between your teeth and your cheek, or wrap it in gauze and put in a container with milk or your saliva.
Your tooth is loose
Blows can also loosen teeth or knock them out of position. Both of these situations require emergency dental treatment. If your tooth has moved out of position, gently push it back into place if you can. Avoid putting any pressure on the tooth.
You have lacerations
Lacerations to your mouth, jaw and face are also dental emergencies. Hold a clean cloth against the laceration to stop the bleeding and take over-the-counter medications to ease the pain.
Your tooth broke
Broken teeth can be painful, particularly if the break exposes the nerve-laden pulp at the center of your teeth. Decrease the pain by applying a little dental cement to the tooth and take a pain reliever to keep discomfort under control until it's time for your emergency appointment.
You have an abscess
Dental abscesses occur when tooth pulp becomes infected. Abscesses are often very painful and can cause facial or jaw swelling, fever and swollen lymph nodes. You may also notice a little bump that looks like a pimple on your gum. Abscesses require emergency treatment because the infection can spread throughout your body if you don't receive antibiotic treatment. Your Apple Valley dentist can also prescribe pain medication that will reduce your discomfort.
If you experience any of these dental emergencies, get in touch with Dr. Kim, your Apple Valley, CA, dentist, immediately. Call him at (760) 247-6007 to arrange emergency dental treatment.
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