The Practice of Javier E. Martinez, DDS, MS

Chocolate And Your Teeth

UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, dentists are not fans of candy. The sugar in candy is the favorite food of bacteria that cause tooth decay. However, when it comes to chocolate, certain types may actually be good for oral health!
To be clear, this is not a blog post in which we give you a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Only certain types of chocolate have any health benefits, and too much of even the healthiest kinds probably isn’t a good thing.


All Chocolate Is Not Created Equal
How can you tell where any given chocolate falls on the spectrum from most processed to least? It helps to know a little about how chocolate is made. The most important ingredient is the cocoa bean. After fermenting, the beans can either be roasted and made into cocoa powder, or cold pressed into cacao powder, which retains more of the original nutrients. You’ll get the most nutrients from cacao nibs or powder, but the stuff is pretty bitter and the chocolatey taste isn’t as strong.
If you’d rather stick with the chocolate you’re used to, there are still factors to consider. The main ingredients in a chocolate bar are cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk (if it’s milk chocolate). White chocolate is made with cocoa butter and sugar and contains no cocoa solids, so it has none of the beneficial nutrients. Milk chocolate tends to contain at most 10 percent cocoa solids, so the tiny amount of nutrients from the cocoa beans is offset by a ton of sugar. Not a healthy choice. But let’s talk about dark chocolate.

The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, particularly 70 percent cocoa (or cacao) or higher, is where you’ll start hearing buzzwords like “superfood.” That’s because the cocoa bean is full of healthy antioxidants–specifically, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins–and dark chocolate has enough cocoa in it to keep most of them. Bonus points: there isn’t much sugar.
Antioxidants have all kinds of benefits for overall health, but let’s focus on oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath, and antioxidants play a crucial role in all of those. They help stabilize and strengthen your own oral tissues, protect against cell mutation, and make it harder for harmful bacteria to flourish.
Chocolate Still Isn’t Everything
Like we said before, this blog post isn’t a license for you to eat as much chocolate as you want. No matter how full of antioxidants it is, dark chocolate still doesn’t replace other important oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments. If you love to snack, however, you might consider swapping a few items heavy in processed sugars for dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Your teeth will thank you!

Your healthy teeth are our pride and joy!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

HEALTHY COOKING FOR YOUR SWEET TOOTH

MOST OF US find ourselves craving something sweet every once in a while—or perhaps more often than that! Unfortunately, as good as sweet treats taste, they can have a big impact on our dental health.

Sugar And Your Teeth
There are many ways that sugar is bad for our overall health, but it’s also specifically bad for our teeth. Our mouths are diverse microbiomes containing dozens of species of bacteria, both harmful and beneficial, that can reproduce multiple times per day. Sugar may taste good to us, but harmful bacteria love it. They eat the sugar that sticks to our teeth and excrete acid that dissolves tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.
Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is usually enough to keep the bacteria populations under control, but your teeth will thank your for avoiding excess sugar. So how can we satisfy a sweet tooth craving without also satisfying the cravings of millions of harmful bacteria? By cooking sugar-free desserts, of course!

Healthier Sweet Options
There are a few ways you can cut down on sugar without cutting down on sweets when you’re cooking. Some of them can be pricey, so your budget might play a role in determining which one you use.
Rebaudioside A
Rebaudioside A is a polyol or sugar alcohol produced by Stevia, a leafy South American plant. The FDA has approved rebaudioside A as a safe food additive, which means we can cook with it. But what makes it better for our teeth than sugar? Well, all those hungry bacteria in our mouths can’t digest sugar alcohols. We get to enjoy the sweet taste, but they don’t! The only downside is that it can leave a bitter aftertaste if you use too much. Since you only need one teaspoon to match the sweetness of a whole cup of sugar, it’s easy to overdo it.

Xylitol and Erythritol
Xylitol and erythritol are two more sugar alcohols that serve as excellent sweeteners. You may be familiar with xylitol, because that’s what sweetens sugar-free gum. While it’s even better for your teeth than other sugar alcohols–which is why dentists recommend it–it might not be the best to cook with, as it can cause digestive discomfort if you eat too much of it. Erythritol doesn’t have that drawback, but it can be pretty expensive.

Fruit
Fruit is another great sugar substitute. If you’d rather work with ingredients you already know, unsweetened applesauce, bananas, dates, and figs are four great replacements for table sugar that you can use in many recipes. You’ll end up with desserts that are still sweet and moist, but which contain far less sugar, which your teeth will appreciate. Fruits are sweet because they contain fructose, a type of sugar, but you’ll use less sugar overall by using pureed fruit instead of table sugar

Keep Up With Your Oral Health Basics
Even if you completely cut out all foods that are bad for your teeth out of your diet, it’s still crucial to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and come see us for a cleaning appointment every six months! Be sure to bring your favorite sugar-free dessert recipes the next time you come!

Your Dental Health Is Our First Priority!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Vacation Tips To Keep Your Smile Healthy!

Have A Dental Checkup Before Leaving Town
Nothing can ruin a vacation quite like a toothache or other dental emergency. And depending on where you’re traveling to, it could be difficult to get the proper treatment required. It’s always best to get your teeth checked before going on a trip to make sure everything is in tip-top shape!

At your checkup, your dentist will have your teeth cleaned, check for cavities or other dental issues, and make sure that any tooth restorations you may have, such as crowns or fillings, are firmly in place. Untreated cavities or weakened dental work can cause pain on flights, so it’s best to take care of them beforehand!

Watch What You Eat When Traveling
One of the reasons that we go on vacation is for the amazing food! Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to get carried away. Just remember when you’re traveling this summer to eat sweets and snacks in moderation, and make sure to bring some sugarless chewing gum to pop in your mouth after eating. Research shows that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating can help prevent cavities!

Keep Up Your Oral Hygiene Routine
Vacating your normal life and responsibilities for a short time is what vacations are all about! It’s important that you don’t leave your oral hygiene at home, however. Keeping your teeth healthy is something that requires daily care, so make sure your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss are at the top of your packing list!

It’s always best to get your teeth checked before going on a trip to make sure everything is in tip-top shape!

Quick tip: When packing your toothbrush, make sure to store it in a case or bag that is ventilated. If you use a brush head cover or need to pack it in a bag without any ventilation, make sure it’s completely dry before storing it. This will help reduce the amount of bacteria on your toothbrush.

 

Bon Voyage!
We hope these tips will help you protect your teeth, even when you’re on vacation. You’ll have a lot more fun knowing that your chompers are taken care of and your smile is summer-ready. Wishing safe travels and a wonderful summer to all of our amazing patients!

Thank you for the trust you place in our practice!

Seasonal Allergies? Take Care Of Your Smile

Seasonal Allergies? Take Care Of Your Smile

SPRING IS ON THE HORIZON and we couldn’t be more excited! Chirping birds, blooming flowers, and warmer weather are just a few of the things we look forward to when spring comes around. We have to admit though, there is one thing about the season that’s not particularly appealing, and that’s allergies.

Be Aware Of These Dental Side Effects During Allergy Season
Many of you have experienced it, red, itchy and watery eyes and the constant sneezing and congestion. The effects of seasonal allergies can go even further, however, and may even affect your oral health! Here are some mouth-related symptoms to be on the lookout for when seasonal allergies strike.

Tooth Pain

When your body reacts to allergens in the air, you often end up with congested sinuses. Sinus pressure in the maxillary sinuses can sometimes cause the upper molars to ache. Treating your allergies and the congestion should relieve tooth pain. If the pain persists, however, make an appointment with your dentist. It’s important to make sure any aching teeth aren’t the result of tooth decay.

Bad Breath

All that mucus your body is creating can also be bad news for your breath. When you’re congested, mucus from the sinuses leaks into the back of the throat–we call this “post-nasal drip.” Not only can post-nasal drip lead to a sore throat, it can also be the cause of persistent bad breath.

Dry Mouth

Many of you will reach for antihistamines to keep your allergies under control this spring. As helpful as they are, they can often lead to an unpleasant side effect: dry mouth. Saliva is our number one defense against cavity-causing bacteria, so when your mouth is dry, you have a higher risk of developing tooth decay.

Protect Your Mouth This Spring
We want your mouth to stay healthy, even during allergy season. Here are some helpful tips to help you protect your mouth this spring:
Continue to practice good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day, and floss on a daily basis!
Take allergy medication as recommended by your physician, but remember to drink plenty of water to compensate for dry mouth.
Try gargling with salt water to help with congestion. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water and gargle for a few seconds before spitting it out.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Protect Your Teeth This Cold And Flu Season

Watch Out For Dry Mouth
You know that feeling when your nose is so stuffy you can’t breathe out of it even if you tried? We all have the potential to become mouth breathers when we’re sick, especially at night. Consequently, our mouths become dry, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.
Some of the medications we take when we’re sick–such as antihistamines, decongestants and pain relievers–can cause or worsen dry mouth. Without as much saliva to fend off bacteria in our mouths, our risk of tooth decay goes way up! Protect yourself from cavities and make sure to drink plenty of water when you’re sick.

Being sick can often cause bad breath because of congestion and dry mouth.

Go Sugar-free
We all know how bad sugar can be for our teeth. But it’s not usually something we think about when we’re in dire need of a cough drop! Next time you buy cough drops, go sugar-free. Sucking on a sugary cough drop all day is just the same as sucking on a jolly rancher or other sugary candy, and it can do just as much damage to your pearly whites.
Stick With Water
Orange juice, sports drinks, tea sweetened with honey or sugar–these are all beverages we reach for when we’re sick. Just remember to rinse your mouth with water after drinking them, to protect your teeth from all that sugar.
Water will also be your best friend if you have the stomach flu. Vomit is very acidic and can wreak havoc on your teeth. Instead of trying to brush your teeth immediately after, however, just rinse your mouth out with water and make sure to stay hydrated!
Keep Up On Oral Hygiene
Remembering to brush and floss your teeth on a normal day is easy: in the morning when you wake up and at night before going to bed! When you’re sick, the days and nights often run together as you try to rest and recuperate. Losing that sense of routine can be bad news for your teeth if you are forgetting to take proper care of them.

You may be surprised, but brushing your teeth may actually make you feel better! The health and cleanliness of our mouth can have a profound effect on our overall sense of well-being. When your mouth is clean, you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. So, don’t forget to keep up on your oral hygiene routine, even when you’re not feeling so hot. We Hope You Get Feeling Better! We sincerely hope that none of our patients get sick this cold and flu season. If you are feeling unwell, get feeling better soon! As always, thank you for choosing our practice as your dental home! We love our patients!

Do Dental Fillings Last Forever?

YOU MAY BE SURPRISED TO LEARN that dental fillings don’t last forever! While they are extremely durable and can last years, there will come a time when they will have to be replaced.

We Check Your Fillings At Your Regular Visits
You may be wondering, “If fillings don’t last a lifetime, then how long DO they last?” That depends on a number of factors, such as the type of procedure performed, the size or area being treated or replaced, the kind of materials used for the filling and the patient’s level of oral hygiene and care.
At your six-month appointment, we will check your fillings and make sure they are still intact. We will look for early signs of wear and tear so we can replace a dental restoration before it breaks, loses its effectiveness or falls out on its own. We also take x-rays to make sure there is no decay under or around a filling, which can cause it to come loose.

We’re Here For You In An Emergency
Despite your best efforts, a filling may crack or fall out unexpectedly. This is unlikely to occur if you visit your dentist regularly, however accidents can happen. Over time, dental fillings can be weakened by:
Tooth decay
Frequent jaw clenching and teeth grinding (bruxism)
Chewing on hard items or foods
Injury or trauma, such as those sustained during sports activities
Time; no filling lasts forever no matter how well kept
Although the following video discusses tooth loss, the same principals apply for a lost filling!

If you ever have a filling fall out just remember, don’t panic and don’t wait. Even if it falls out after hours, call us immediately–we’re here for you in an emergency! We will get you in as quickly as we can. In the meantime, keep your filling if you can but don’t try to push it back into place. Make sure to keep the affected area clean and debris-free.
If you don’t experience any pain after losing a filling, it’s still important to come in as soon as possible to have it treated. Not seeking immediate care could result in pain, discomfort and even tooth loss.

Regular dental visits are imperative to maintaining a healthy smile. With that being said, we know not every dental emergency happens during normal business hours. That’s why we strive to make ourselves available to our patients as often as possible. If you need us, call us! Your health and comfort is our number one priority.
Thank you for reading our blog and supporting our practice!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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What Parents Need To Know About Thumb Sucking

THUMB SUCKING IS NORMAL for infants, but many parents wonder about its effect on their child’s future dental health. As a parent, you may have questions such as, “When should I be worried about thumb sucking?” or, “What will happen if my child continues to suck their thumb?”
Because thumb sucking is so widespread–it’s estimated that about 75 to 95 percent of infants suck their thumb or fingers at some point–we want to help parents understand why it happens and how you can help your child break the habit if necessary.

Thumb Sucking Is Normal–Up To A Certain Point
If your infant develops a thumb sucking habit, remember, it is completely normal. Some children even begin sucking their thumb in the womb! It’s a natural reflex for babies and provides them with a sense of security and comfort.

In most cases, as baby grows and begins to explore the world around them, thumb sucking will gradually decrease and disappear on its own, usually between the ages of two and four. Past age four, however, thumb sucking should be discouraged.
The reason for this is that prolonged sucking can negatively impact your child’s developing teeth. Depending on the frequency and intensity of sucking, teeth and the upper and lower jaws can be pushed out of alignment and the formation of the roof of the mouth can be changed. It can even affect speech development.

What To Do If The Habit Persists
If your child’s thumb sucking habit persists, recognize when it occurs. Is it an absentminded habit or do they suck when they are anxious, stressed or nervous? The method you use to help break your child’s sucking habit may depend on the reason behind it.For some children, a discussion and goal setting is enough. For more difficult cases, you may need to enlist the help of your dentist.

Here are some general tips to help your child break the habit:

Explain. If your child is old enough, help them understand the consequences of thumb sucking and why they need to stop.
Make your child an active participant. Help your child come up with their own goals and prevention strategies. They will be more likely to keep their own goals.
Take note. Observe times they are more prone to sucking, if any, and try to create diversions.
Use positive reinforcement. Offer encouragement and support instead of punishments.
Make a progress chart. Help your child see their progress and reward them with a prize at the end of each week and/or month. Have your child be the one to place stickers on the chart and choose the prize.

Involve Your Dentist
Whatever the methods you choose to help your child break their thumb sucking habit, we are here for you! We can provide advice, support, and if necessary, further treatment options to help your child stop sucking their thumb or finger.
Talk to us about thumb sucking today–we’d love to address your concerns, answer questions and help come up with the best solution for your child.

Thank you for your continued trust in our practice.

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Thump sucking

Thump sucking

Implants, Overdentures and Hybrids: Rapidly Expanding Options for the Edentulous Patient!

Implants-Overdentures-v3According to the 2010 United States Census, the older population is increasing at a faster rate than ever before. While the under 18 population grew at a rate of 2.6 percent between 2000 and 2010, and the population aged 18 to 44 grew by a mere 0.6 percent, the 45 to 64 age group grew at a rate of 31.5 percent. According to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the 60 and over population is expected to increase from 45.8 million in 2000 to 92.2 million in 2030, and to 112 million in 2050.

While an estimated 30 million Americans were edentulous in one or both jaws in 2001, that number is expected to increase to approximately 38 million by 2020 due to the increase in the aging population. Although such statistics should put this discourse to rest, they present the issue of whether to treat dental patients with dentures or implants, and which are better and for whom.

Not everyone is a candidate for implant dentistry. Patients with a history of uncontrolled diabetes, bisphosphonate use, or certain blood dyscrasias may not be suitable candidates for implant therapies without cooperation of their treating physicians and an understanding of the incumbent risks. Osseointegrated implants require conscientious oral maintenance.

Another crucial issue is the amount of bone available for appropriate implant placement and stability. A result of edentulism is the deterioration of the alveolar bone. The integrity of the bone is critical when determining treatment options. There must be sufficient bone structure to consider implants. Augmentation of the bone and ridge may be accomplished with a variety of methods and grafting mediums.

There are numerous treatment options for fully edentulous patients today. These include full upper and lower dentures, implant-assisted prostheses, and implant-supported prostheses.

EVERYDAY HABITS AFFECT YOUR TEETH

blogTOOTH ENAMEL HAS the pretty cool reputation of being the hardest substance in the human body. So it may come as a surprise to know that while enamel is super tough, it can also break quite easily! The truth is that our teeth are not invincible, and a lot of everyday habits can put our oral health at risk.
Watch Out For These Tooth-Damaging Habits

Many of these habits seem harmless, but over time they can do a lot of damage to that beautiful smile of yours!

Nail Biting

We may refer to closely-matched sports games as “nail-biters,” but that doesn’t mean we should actually be biting our nails! Nail biting can cause teeth to chip or break as well as lead to enamel damage. The front teeth are often the first to suffer wear and tear from nail biting.

Due to the increased pressure on teeth during orthodontic treatment, biting your nails with braces can put you at greater risk for tooth resorption (a shortening of the tooth roots) or tooth loss. For the sake of teeth everywhere, let’s keep the term “nail-biter” as a manner of expression rather than a label for ourselves!

Using Your Teeth As A Tool

That darn packet of ketchup just won’t open! While your teeth may seem to be the perfect solution, using them as a tool will cause more harm than good. As strong as your teeth may be, they are not meant to be used as pliers or any other sort of tool. Doing so can lead to fractured or broken teeth and even tooth loss. As a side note, tooth damage puts you at greater risk of decay and cavities!

Gnawing On Pens And Pencils

You may be solving a difficult problem or simply thinking. Before you know it, the end of your pen or pencil is in your mouth. This oftentimes unconscious habit is an important one to be aware of. We don’t realize how much pressure we’re placing on our teeth when we bite down on something that isn’t food.

Chewing on your pen or pencil puts you at risk for broken teeth and even damage to existing dental work. Constant chewing on hard objects can compromise dental restorations such as fillings or crowns. When it comes to this bad habit, we say stay away!

Chewing Ice

Are you an ice chewer? Chewing on ice is another huge culprit behind chipped, cracked and fractured teeth. The cold can weaken teeth even further, leaving them more susceptible to breakage. Chewing ice cubes doesn’t just chip teeth, it chips away tooth enamel as well, causing serious damage over time. Even your blender needs special blades to crush ice! So next time you’re tempted, just remember your teeth aren’t equipped to crush ice cubes.

Do Your Chompers A Favor

Your teeth are made to chew food and nothing more. If you’ve got one of these bad habits, do your chompers a favor and work on quitting. If you have successfully broken one of these habits, tell us how in the comments below!

Our patients rock!

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What to Do About Congenitally Missing Teeth

WHILE MOST PEOPLE HAVE thirty-two permanent teeth that develop (including the wisdom teeth) some people’s permanent teeth never grow in at all. These are called congenitally missing teeth—teeth missing from birth—and it’s actually more common than you think! 1ea38850-75b5-4817-9344-9aa17662b14f

So, what do you do if you find out you or your child have one or more congenitally missing teeth?

Why Would a Tooth Be Congenitally Missing?

A lot of factors are at play when it comes to the complex process of tooth formation. Congenitally missing teeth can run in families, meaning that often it is simply an inherited trait. Certain systemic conditions can also result in missing teeth. Whatever the reason for congenitally missing teeth, the good news is that there are effective ways to treat it.

What Kinds of Treatments Are There for Missing Teeth?

Depending on your unique situation and personal preference, your dentist will recommend one or a combination of these treatments:

  • Dental implants: This is most often the treatment of choice. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that provide a strong foundation for replacement teeth. Combined with a crown specifically made to match your teeth, they are the most natural, functional and long-lasting treatment option.
  • Dental bridge: Bridges, often considered the next best option, literally “bridge” the gap created by one or more missing teeth. Crowns, placed on the two teeth adjacent to the gap, are connected to a false tooth that fills the space left by the missing tooth.
  • Removable partial denture: This appliance consists of replacement teeth attached to a gum-colored plastic base. The removable denture simply rests on your natural teeth and gums.
  • Orthodontic treatment: Oftentimes gaps left by missing teeth will cause the surrounding teeth to rotate and shift into the empty space, resulting in bad bite and other issues. Orthodontic treatment is often recommended to keep the gap open until treatment to replace the missing tooth is undertaken.

Your Dream Smile Is Our Goal

If you or your child have congenitally missing teeth, consult with us today about your options. Whatever your decided treatment plan, we’re dedicated to making sure you get the smile you’ve always dreamed of!

Making you smile makes our day!

 

Image by Flickr user KatieThebeau used underCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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