5 Tips & Tricks for Teeth Grinders

Bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching, affects both kids and adults. While often caused by high levels of stress, teeth clenching and grinding is a very good indicator of potential sleep disorders (sleep apnea). Ask your partner if he or she notices heavy snoring and if you stop breathing while snoring.  It is said that sleep apnea has higher risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke more than heavy smoking.  Your dentist can do a full evaluation to see if you have indicators for sleep apnea. Regardless of your underlying issue, here are a few tips and tricks to help:

  1. Take Notice –Throughout the day notice if you’re clenching or grinding. Take a few deep breaths and place the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This helps the muscles in your jaw relax.
  2. Stop Chewing – On non-food items that is! Pencils, ice, etc. This also includes avoiding gum because it trains your jaw to clench and encourages teeth grinding.
  3. Body ImageCut Back – Avoid foods with added sugar, especially for children. Adults may find drinking alcohol intensify their condition. Cutting out liquor and limiting caffeine is recommended.
  4. Relax! – Especially before bedtime. Take a long bath, listen to mellow music, find what works best for you and enjoy it.

See Your Dentist – It’s important to be properly diagnosed. We’ll partner together to find the best treatment plan for your well-being! Call and schedule an exam today

Dr. Ernesto Mireles

Greenfield and Salinas Dental Implant Center

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

Dental X-Rays and Your Health

X-rays, otherwise known as dental radiographs, are a staple of quality dental care. While x-rays bring undeniable advantages when it comes to identifying and diagnosing potential health issues, some may harbor reservations regarding the risks of exposure to radiation.  Fortunately we can ease those concerns and serve as a resource for understanding radiography, so you can feel confident receiving excellent care.

Why Do I Need Dental X-Rays

X-rays are an essential tool in the dental community (and medical community at large) as they provide valuable insights that we would not otherwise be able to access with visual inspection alone. Our team, with the help of x-rays, is able to see between, inside, and under your teeth. In doing so, we have the ability to check a variety of important health factors. This includes the presence of cavities, the health of your tooth roots, the bone structure surrounding the tooth, the status of developing teeth, the health of your jaw bone, and many more conditions that we would not otherwise be able to monitor. X-rays are instrumental when there is a known issue; with them, we are better able to understand the full scope of the situation and design an appropriate treatment plan for the beauty and health of your smile.

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Radiation Exposure from X-Rays

Radiography technology has come a long way, and your exposure to radiation is negligible amounts in terms of risk – in fact, the risk you assume by forgoing x-rays can create long-term damage that could otherwise have been identified and treated. We understand some patients have concerns about radiation exposure, and it’s important to understand we are all consistently exposed to radiation each and every day. It’s high levels of exposure that are the true cause for concern. Our x-ray machines operate on a micro-scale that simply don’t compare. We assure you receiving x-rays is one of the single most beneficial processes capable of saving your health by identifying small problems before they progress into serious conditions.

If you have any unaddressed concerns, in regards to x-rays or other dental procedures, our knowledgeable staff is happy to share answers with you. We want you to feel relaxed in our office, and confident that you are receiving the best care possible!

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

What Causes Bad Breath?

We’ve probably all known someone with bad breath. It can be uncomfortable to engage in discussion with someone whose breath smells downright foul. It’s also a sensitive topic to broach, as well as being a very common concern – after all, each year Americans spend an estimated $3 billion dollars on breath freshening products. Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, is clearly a concern well felt amongst adults – but what is the cause?

Symptoms and Sources of Bad Breath

There are several sources of bad breath, including diet and dry mouth – both boil down to the presence of bacteria. The most common odor-causing bacteria are located on the tongue, particularly toward the back where they tend to be undisturbed. If neglected during cleaning, it’s a prime breeding ground for bacteria to feed on leftover food particles, dead skin cells, and mucus. In addition to the tongue, less common offenders include build-up between the teeth and below the gum line, increasing the bad odor. In addition to inconsistent oral care, there are other common reasons for mild cases of bad breath.

Most of us are familiar with the term ‘morning breath’ – a common reference to oral odor experienced in the early hours after waking up. Morning breath can be attributed to a dry mouth, as the result of inactivity during the night fueling bacteria production. Saliva is a natural defense against these offenders, and saliva production slows down the longer the mouth is inactive. If you suffer from chronic dry mouth, the same principles apply whether it’s morning or not. Additionally, food particles (especially sugars) remaining in the mouth encourage bacteria growth. All of this adds up to an increasingly unpleasant and embarrassing odor when you are speaking and breathing.

How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

When it comes to solutions, anything not addressing the presence of bacteria is a purely cosmetic fix. This includes gum, mints, and similar – sorry! The solutions very much depend on the specific source, and may be as easy as improving your general oral hygiene routine, or it could require a deep cleaning by a dental professional. A more serious cause, and subsequent solution, may be decay present in the mouth that requires removal. No matter the case, vigilant oral care will always be helpful in terms of avoiding unpleasant breath!

Bad breath, while harmless, can be an indicator your oral care habits are insufficient. If you are concerned about your breath, try brushing and flossing more thoroughly to remove any lingering bacteria. If the problem persists, contact us for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan!

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

Holidays + Teeth

The holidays are infamous for being diet-breakers, but let’s not forget the effect excessive sweets can have on your oral health! Don’t worry, we aren’t going to convince you to pass on pecan pie or skip the cider; however, it is important to continue practicing healthy habits, even with some well-deserved indulgences peppered into your seasonal celebrations. Sugar affects everyone’s teeth, no matter how old. Younger children’s smiles are still in the process of development, which means they need added care throughout the growing stages.

The Start of Gum Disease and Cavities

To better understand why it’s important to monitor sugar consumption, we must first address the development of gum disease and cavities. When you eat normally throughout the day, food particles and bacteria collect in your mouth and on your teeth. As you brush and floss, these particles and bacteria are removed with no harm done. However, the presence of sugar fuels the bacteria, which creates enamel-destroying acid; left untreated, the acids corrode a hole in the tooth that deepens over time. Additionally, infection can occur in the gum tissues and lead to swelling, bleeding, and pain. It’s important to limit the bacteria’s opportunity to spread by practicing consistent oral care, and keep your mouth free of disease and infection.

Dental Decay in Children

When teeth are still in development, the story can be a bit different. The above still applies, but the stakes are higher during the formative years of cutting teeth. It isn’t uncommon to hear “oh, they’re just baby teeth”, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Child tooth decay is a rampant condition and, although completely preventable, is five times as common as asthma. It’s entirely possible for the infection to spread beneath the gum line, and compromise the healthy adult teeth growing below. Until children are a certain age, it’s imperative for parents to teach sustainable healthy habits. Fortunately, we have a tip or two for the whole family!

When it comes to limiting sugar intake, but also being practical enough to live a little (especially during the holidays!) we stress that it’s actually the timing of sugar consumption that affects dental health more than the quantity consumed. That means less sweets eaten throughout longer periods of the day can actually harm your teeth more than a large serving of dessert eaten at once. Additionally, serving sweets along with the meal can also prevent over-exposure, as they are less likely to sit on the teeth for extended periods of time. Bearing these facts in mind, we suggest instead of leaving sweets all over the house, limit consumption until meal time, and then allow yourselves and the kids to enjoy your share of holiday confections!

 

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

When is it a Dental Emergency?

Dental emergencies are not like other emergencies. It can be hard to know the difference between bothering your dentist or getting in contact because there is a serious time-sensitive issue at hand – particularly if you’re not even sure what the problem is.

The rule of thumb is this: “If it hurts – it’s an emergency.”

If you chipped a tooth, but there’s no pain, it can likely wait until the office’s normal operating hours. Just be sure to take care when chewing as to not worsen the injury. But if it’s fractured or you’re in pain, you may have damaged the soft tissue inside your tooth or “pulp” and that needs to be looked at immediately lest the tooth be compromised.

A knocked out tooth or loose one should be immediately brought to a dental professional to attempt to save. The more time that passes between the initial trauma and attempted dental restoration, the less viable the tooth will be. In cases like this, if the tooth is loose please try to keep it in place by either keeping a finger there or gently biting to minimize movement. If it’s completely knocked out, avoid touching the root and either place it back in the socket (if you can comfortably do so), or store it in a small container or submerged in milk if it’s available. It can also be transported in a cup with, preferably the same person’s, spit. Get to our office immediately to minimize the likelihood of permanent tooth loss.

(Did You Know! Milk can help maintain the correct fluid balance of the root, preserving it longer; water, on the other hand, can cause the cells to swell and die.)

Mouth Trauma

If you have any kind of mouth injury including: punctures, lacerations, tears, or similar to the cheeks/tongue/mouth – this is an emergency. Be careful not to take any pain killers which may be blood thinners, like aspirin or ibuprofen, as this can increase the severity of the injury. Abscesses or infections of the mouth are serious and can be life threatening in some cases. If you are experiencing any of these, it is certainly an emergency. If you are bleeding, dealing with a loose/missing tooth, in severe pain, have been dealt trauma to the mouth, or have swelling – this is a dental emergency. Call a medical professional immediately.

Note: If trauma to the head is involved, make sure to rule out a concussion. Some symptoms include headache, confusion, lack of coordination, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, ringing in the ears, sleepiness, and excessive fatigue. If you think you may have suffered a concussion, then you want to go to the ER first.

Dental emergencies are not a black and white issue, as is the case with injuries like broken bones. But when it comes to your oral health, pain is never normal, and severe pain means a severe issue. Fortunately, dental emergencies rarely pop up for no reason at all, and as long as you take care of yourself and avoid dangerous situations, they are mostly preventable. If you find yourself at a sport outing and take a rogue ball to the mouth, definitely give us a call. Until then, just keep to your usual oral hygiene routine and don’t worry – if the worst happens, you always have us to set things straight (:

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

Amalgam Fillings: Should They Be Replaced?

 

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What is a filling?

Receiving a dental filling is a common procedure that many people have personally experienced. As a bit of a background, a filling becomes necessary when a tooth is damaged by decay and needs to be restored and protected. The function of a filling is to both seal off any spaces where bacteria could enter, and to reshape the tooth to its original form and function. Fillings are an invaluable part of dental work because they offer both a solution for present damage, and act as preventative guards against potential future damage.

A variety of materials are used to create fillings: gold, porcelain, a composite resin, or an amalgam (commonly referred to as silver fillings) are all common choices. There is no ‘best’ type of filling, and the right option for you is truly dependent on your individual case and personal preference.

Why remove a filling?

BeforeAndAfter ImgThere are a few different reasons one may want to replace a filling, including a more natural look. Porcelain and composite resins look the most natural and are placed to match your tooth color, and it is not uncommon for those with gold and silver fillings to request these more subtle options. Each type of filling has its own lifespan, which can range from just a few years to several decades, so sometimes a routine replacement may also be in order.

However, in addition to appearance and time, there is also a debate surrounding the use of amalgam fillings.

What is the amalgam filling debate?

By definition, the word ‘amalgam’ is synonymous with the words ‘mixture’ or ‘blend’. As an example, a smoothie would be considered an amalgam of fruits!

In the dental world, ‘amalgam’ as it is used to describe a filling indicates it is a mixture of materials – this means that silver fillings are not pure silver, they have other similar materials in them as well. The proposed problem with these fillings is that the material could contain toxic or harmful matter that could negatively affect your health.

Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple. The biggest concern expressed by those opposed to amalgam fillings is the potential exposure to mercury, and patients potentially being poisoned as a result. That does sound awful, until you consider that we are all exposed to some level of mercury. Mercury is present in fish! A person would have to eat a lot of fish before there was any risk of poisoning, and the same could be said about a small tooth filling that is mostly made of silver. On the other hand, we understand if you have concerns about the material used in your filling.

If you already have an amalgam filling, it’s important to note that removing a filling when not completely necessary is an extra procedure, and with any medical procedure there are always risks involved. If you are getting a new filling and are uncomfortable with the idea of amalgam, just let us know and we can find an option that is right for you. There are many choices when it comes to your filling material, and we want you to walk out of our office feeling confident with your smile and your health.

Ask Dr. Mireles, which filling would be best for you!

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

Pre-Medication for Dental Work After Joint Replacement

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What is pre-medicating? What do artificial joints have to do with dental treatment? Why is this related to my oral health and not just overall health?

Good questions! Although artificial joints can seem like a far cry from concerns with your dental health, the two are more related than one may think. When it comes to artificial joints, there is an increased risk of infection due to the inorganic material in the body that should be taken into consideration. This is true from the time of placement, but it may also play a role with future medical treatments. It has long been suggested that pre-medicating should be a standard prerequisite to dental and other procedures, but what is pre-medicating and why would it help?

Pre-Medication Before Dental Procedures

Pre-medicating is the act of giving medication prior to a medical or dental procedure, which is done with the intention of staying ahead of potential infection problems. The theory is that bacteria from the mouth can enter the blood stream, and those with artificial joints are already more susceptible to infection. Pre-medication is meant to help mitigate this risk prior to the procedure to keep your overall health in check from start to finish.

Sounds simple – what’s the dilemma?

Your replacement joints may not affect treatments at all! Many question pre-medication as it does not appear to be necessary. In fact, the ADA directly states “In general, for patients with prosthetic joint implants, prophylactic antibiotics are not recommended prior to dental procedures to prevent prosthetic joint infection.” There is evidence that dental procedures are not associated with prosthetic joint implant infections, along with the fact that there is evidence to suggest that there are potential harms in taking medication when not completely necessary. As such, the risks do not outweigh the benefits of pre-medication. In individual cases, there may be exceptions; however, as a rule pre-medication is not a necessary prerequisite for effective dental treatments.

Please be sure to let us know if you have artificial joints, or any out of the ordinary medical circumstances. We will be sure to take them into consideration when it comes to developing your treatment plan. For the most part, your artificial joints will not require special treatment on your end – we can treat you as we would any other patient to keep your smile looking sharp!

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

Deep Cleaning: What it means to you.

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You’re a good person – you pay your taxes, pick up litter, and make it to the dentist every 6 months. Now you’re being told you may need a deep cleaning…but don’t you clean your teeth every day? And isn’t a deep cleaning what the dentist always does? Not quite, although we know it can sometimes feel that way.

A regular dental cleaning is what you are accustomed to receiving every 6 months. The intention of this visit to the dentist is to maintain your healthy gums and give your teeth a little extra attention when it comes to matters of plaque and tartar, which can be difficult to remove fully with a toothbrush and floss alone. The odds are that if you are brushing and flossing every day, and taking any other steps recommended by your doctor, a regular dental cleaning is the perfect addition to your regular care that will keep your smile happy and healthy.

Deep cleaning, a necessity?

A deep cleaning, on the other hand, is what becomes necessary when the health of your teeth and gums become jeopardized by gum disease, also known as periodontitis.  To put it in perspective, your gums are supposed to have tight and healthy seals around your teeth to protect them and keep them firmly in place. A standard part of your regular cleaning is your doctor using a diagnostic tool called a periodontal probe to ensure this is the case; the probe is used to measure the depth of the space between your gums and teeth. Typically 1-3mm is considered normal, and there should be very little or no bleeding at all. Upwards of 4mm is a sign that you are developing ‘pockets’, which are a space between the teeth and gums that becomes prime breeding ground for bacteria and tartar buildup. Plaque that is not brushed and flossed away left on the teeth for more than 24 hours can become tartar, which only your dentist can remove. Left unattended, these pockets can deepen and compromise the tooth and the surrounding bone structure. If the dentist uses the probe and measures 4mm or more, and/or there is significant bleeding and signs of inflammation, then a deep cleaning will be scheduled to help you get your smile back on track.

Deep cleaning is not a scary process. 

Oftentimes, your dentist will break the cleaning into two separate visits to most effectively treat your mouth, this is especially important if your entire mouth needs attention so that you’ll be numbed in only smaller sections of your mouth each time, making for a completely comfortable process and quick recovery. The most common forms of treatment are called scaling and root planing. The process of scaling involves using a professional tool to remove plaque and tartar from both the surface of the teeth, and the pocket area that has been created between your teeth and gums. A scaling instrument, on the other hand, removes plaque and tartar from the surface of the root of your teeth, which is below the gum line and not visible. These tools are the only thing that can removed built up plaque, as even floss cannot reach far into deepened pockets. The good news is they do a wonderful job of cleaning up any tartar that has built up beneath the visible surface.

Periodontitis is a progressive disease, and left unattended can turn into a much more serious problem. Fortunately, the treatment is typically straight forward and as long as you follow the doctor’s aftercare instructions, the bacteria should be reduced to manageable levels and your gums should return to normal and lose any signs of redness. If you are feeling pain or sensitivity in your teeth, have red and/or puffy gums, or are experiencing bleeding during normal brushing and flossing – call us. The sooner periodontitis is identified the easier it is to treat and the less expensive it is for you, if you have any concerns about your oral health just remember that a professional evaluation is never harmful and may offer you some great information.

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
            and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501

Effects of Osteoporosis on your Oral Health

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis isn’t a new discovery, or a disease unheard of by many. That being said, many people don’t realize how closely tied to your oral health it can actually be.

In short, osteoporosis is caused by an insufficient consumption of calcium and vitamin D. It affects the bones, making them less dense and thus more likely to break. Osteoporosis is directly tied to your long-term dental health as this weakening of the bones may heavily compromise the jaw bone.  A weakened jawbone can have a host of detrimental consequences for your teeth, including increased tooth mobility, or complete tooth loss.

The best cure for the degradation of the jawbone is avoiding it all together with a balanced diet high in vitamin D and calcium, and getting a sufficient amount of exercise. Barring that, be sure to attend your dental appointments regularly so that way the structure and health of your mouth can be monitored, and any problems that may develop are addressed immediately and not permitted to deteriorate.

As it is, due to hormone imbalances and changes over life, women are most at risk to developing osteoporosis, but it can absolutely develop in either gender depending on a host of lifestyle variables, not limited to diet and exercise.

Symptoms to pay attention to that may be indicative of osteoporosis affecting the jaw include: pain and/or swelling in the gums or jaw, as well as infection; injured gums not healing in a timely fashion; teeth that become loose for no reason or after only minor strain; numbness or discomfort in the jaw; or at worst, exposed bone. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate contacting your dentist to prevent exacerbating the issue.

Dr. Ernesto Mireles
Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524
and
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927
(831) 674-5501