By Copper Williams
Oral health is a crucial part of our daily lives, but wouldn’t it be great to know more about what impacts our chompers and how to best protect them? If you want to know the ins and outs of your pearly whites, you’re in luck! Check out all the tips, words of wisdom and advice we’ve gained from some of San Joaquin’s top dental experts.
A Mouthful of Benefits
Some of the most beneficial foods for good oral health are those that are rich in calcium and phosphate, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, says Dr. Rafat Razi, D.M.D, M.P.H. Pediatric Dentist of Tracy. “These dairy products help strengthen teeth that are also comprised of calcium and phosphate. Also beneficial are fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots. Both have high water content that can dilute the effects of acid and sugary foods. Foods low in sugar and acidity are better food choices to protect teeth from enamel breakdown.”
Your Friend Enamel
Lodi’s Dr. Todd Franklin, D.D.S., says that many are surprised to find that enamel, a crystal structure that covers the outside surface of the tooth, is the hardest substance in the human body. So what is the purpose of enamel? “The primary purpose is to hold up to the daily chewing you do, and this is no small task. Comprised of many types of densely packed naturally occurring minerals, enamel functions to protect our teeth as we chew, and without it, our teeth would have a very short lifespan.”
“So what are some of the signs that show evidence of damage to the enamel?” Asks Dr. Franklin. “There will be a loss of texture and the surface will appear very smooth and glossy. The natural shape of the chewing surface may start to appear flat and the teeth may appear darker as the enamel becomes thinner, while sensitivity to hot and cold foods will heighten.” Franklin explains.
Say Goodbye to Sweet Drinks and Sour Candies
One of the most damaging properties in today’s diet is acid. Dr. Franklin warns that beverages and sour candy are the main corporates, due to their acidity. What most don’t realize is that organic acids found in juices and sports drinks are just as damaging as those found in colas! Apple juice has nearly eight times the acid of colas, and Cranberry juice has nearly 12 times as much. Sipping these beverages and sucking these candies throughout the day can quickly destroy teeth. To top it off, the sugar found in these products feed bacteria that cause cavities, resulting in high cavity activity in teeth that have already been softened by the acid of such drinks and snacks.
Dr. Scott Thompson D.D.S., Chief Dental Officer with Kids Care Dental recommends brushing your teeth immediately after drinking beverages or sucking sour candies. A healthy mouth is most easily achieved through proper cleaning, which requires knowing where bacteria like to hide and reaching those areas with a toothbrush and floss. “Ask your dentist about dental disclosing solution. Or look it up online. It makes it easy to visualize what you are trying to brush off your teeth,” suggests Dr. Thompson.
A Sensitive Situation
If you’ve got sensitive teeth, Dr. Yusuke Suzuki, D.M.D., says some of the causes could include cavities, cracked teeth, worn tooth enamel and fillings, exposure of tooth roots from aggressive brushing, gum recession and periodontal disease. “If sensitivity is severe and persistent you should see your dentist immediately to identify the cause and action of treatment. Treatment can vary and can even be as simple as using a desensitizing toothpaste.”
Refill that Filling
Dr. Edward T. Graham, D.D.S., explains, “Fillings normally last at least five to 10 years. Poor hygiene, difficult access, heavy wear and especially large fillings are scenarios where the filling’s lifespan will be less than ideal.” There is no “expiration date” on a filling, however radiographs (X-Rays) help identify problems that have developed around a filling. The dentist’s clinical experience is key to determining when a filling will need to be replaced. “Common symptoms of a bad filling include sensitivity to chewing, which suggests a crack in either the tooth or the filling. Sensitivity to sweets and temperature usually mean a problem with the seal of the filling which could be decaying under or around the old filling,” Dr. Graham notes.
From Stress to Dental Unrest
Dr. Maywell Inong, D.D.S., warns that stress plays a part in our dental health and can result in Bruxism, an involuntary or habitual clenching and grinding of teeth. “Symptoms of Bruxism include muscle pain around the head and neck area and frequent headaches. The condition can cause temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), fractures in tooth structure or dental restorations, wear along the gum line and recession of gum tissue,” Dr. Inong explains. Because clenching and grinding can happen during the day, or at night, some are unaware of their condition and the issues it creates.
“When one is asleep, the body can put up to 800 – 1000 pounds per square inch on your teeth, this is where teeth lose enamel, chip, fracture or even split to the point that they are no longer able to be saved. The cause is still a little bit of a mystery but there are definitely factors that you can recognize that contribute to teeth grinding,” states Dr. Janice Scott, D.D.S., of Deer Park Dental. “A young student can have no problems with their teeth and then go to college, come to final exams, stay up all night, study hard and start grinding their teeth. The jaw joint really starts to hurt, but once exams are over, things go back to status quo.” But this is not the only answer. There are those that just biologically grind their teeth. So how does one know?” It all comes down to our annual or routine dental checkup, Dr. Scott explains. “Your dentist, at your yearly or regular dental visit will look for signs that indicate grinding.” Teeth are like mountain ridges, not flat saucers. So, if you have worn flat spots, you may be a patient that grinds or has had problems with tooth grinding in the past.
“If a patient grinds, it is often recommended to start with getting a bite guard. This can vary from a $10 – $40 soft rubber mouth guard from a sports store, to your dentist taking an impression and making a hard occlusal guard customized to fit your bite.”
The Plaque & Tartar Tango
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film made of bacteria and sugar, constantly forming over our teeth. Dr. Shailesh Patel, D.D.S., of Salida Surgery Center informs us that, “It is the main cause of cavities and gum disease.” If plaque is not removed daily by brushing and flossing the sticky substance will pick up minerals from our saliva, and within two days, begin to harden into tartar. “If tartar forms and is not promptly removed with a deep cleaning at the dentist, it can cause gum inflammation, bleeding and bone loss…. Ultimately resulting in loose teeth.”
For More Information Reach Out To These Dental Experts:
Maywell L. Inong, D.D.S.
4568 Feather River Drive, Suite E. Stockton
Scott Thompson D.D.S., Chief Dental Officer
Kids Care Dental
Multiple Central Valley Offices
Ronald S. Noriesta, D.D.S.
One Appointment Dentistry
4512 Feather River Dr. Suite B., Stockton
Cameron R. Wheeler, D.D.S., M.S.
4568 Feather River Dr. Suite D., Stockton
Rafat S. Razi, D.M.D., M.P.H.
2160 W. Grant Line Rd., Tracy
Shailesh Patel, D.D.S.
Salida Surgery Center
5712 Pirrone Rd., Salida
Yusuke C. Suzuki, D.M.D.
Suzuki DMD & Associates Family Dentistry
801 S. Ham Lane. Suite L., Lodi
Edward T. Graham, D.D.S.
602 Lincoln Center, Stockton
Scott Adams, D.D.S.
Village Dental Care
1710 E. March Lane. # 2B, Stockton
Todd A. Franklin, D.D.S.
1208 W. Tokay St., Lodi
Janice G. Scott, D.D.S.
Deer Park Smiles
3427 Deer Park Drive. Suite C., Stockton
Cheema Dental Orthodontics
Multiple Office Locations