4 Tasty Foods That Are Actually Horrible for Your Teeth

Even those with outstanding oral hygiene can fall victim to a few unknown cavity causing culprits. Some of our favorite treats, while seemingly healthy, can be responsible for tooth stains, bad breath and other forms of mouth destruction.  Most tooth-conscious consumers already know to limit sugar and steer clear of things like soda and hard candies to keep their dental hygiene top notch. But, here are a few surprising snacks just as capable of damaging your smile.

  1. Pickles

PicklingPickles? Yes, while not typically considered something to avoid for oral health, pickles are soaked in vinegar during the pickling process.  Vinegar is highly acidic, and acid is notorious for quickly wearing down tooth enamel. So, it’s important to keep this in mind when eating anything pickled. Drinking water or rinsing your mouth can help clear some of the acid once your meal’s over.

  1. Peanut Butter

You either love it or hate it. You may even be particular in how you eat it, straight from the jar or only in a sandwich… Have you ever tried it with pickles? This childhood staple can be a healthy snack when opting for the “no added sugar” variety. Sugar helps peanut butter better grip your teeth. While it may take some getting used to, it’s a healthier choice all around.

  1. Dried Fruit

Dried FruitIn small doses, dried fruit is a healthy alternative to sweets such as chocolate bars and ice cream. However, dried fruit has high sugar content, and is often sticky making this treat more likely to get caught in between your teeth for days. When something high in sugar is stuck in your teeth it feeds the bacteria and contributes to dental erosion. Checking nutrition labels can help you weigh the best choice for your sweet tooth.

  1. Crackers

This appetizer favorite is not typically associated with dental problems, yet consuming refined carbs is a known cause of inflammation. The significance here is that inflammation can be linked to a number of dental dangers such as gingivitis and other stages of periodontitis. Limiting carbs such as white bread and pasta, pretzels and white rice can be a treat to your weight, overall health and your smile.

Regular dental check-ups with a dedicated hygiene routine will keep your smile on a healthy track. At a glance, it looks like limiting sugar in all forms is what it’s all about. Remember sticky and pickled foods also pose a risk. No need to stress. While you’re teeth may thank you for cutting out these items entirely, moderation and awareness will serve you best.

 

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

3 Summer Treats for a Healthy Smile

Summer Text with Palm is about vacations, group activities, family time, and great food. With the warmer weather comes the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies. You may even be growing your own. Choosing the right snacks can both satisfy your sweet cravings and help your smile shine.

Strawberries

Strawberries are the perfect choice for boosting your oral health. Candy lovers and sweet addicts can snack on strawberries in place of surgery, teeth-eroding junk. Packed with vitamin C, this summer super food is a good source of calcium, which is essential for all of our bones- including our teeth.  Just one cup of strawberries is filled with maximum amounts of magnesium, folate and potassium: all necessary for a glowing smile!  To top it off, strawberries are also known to help clean your teeth. The seeds can work as tiny scrubbers helping to remove some plaque build-up.

WatermelonsummerTreat1

Summer BBQs are never complete without giant slabs of juicy watermelon. Not only is it a tasty and refreshing treat on hot days, watermelon is also great for your teeth.  Being mostly water, this fruit stimulates saliva flow, which is very effective in maintaining a healthy, bright smile.  Watermelon, like strawberries, is also packed with antioxidants and tons of Vitamin C which are great when going through any kind of recovery. Snacking on watermelon will also fill you up with Vitamin A, which is great for your skin and a fantastic complement to your beautiful smile!

Yogurt

Ok, yogurt IS available all year long. Packed with probiotics, calcium and protein, stick with no added sugar flavors for the healthiest choice. Healthy doesn’t mean boring, try mixing in those fresh strawberries for the perfect sweet and creamy snack. Beat the heat by turning them into frozen yogurt pops. Kids and adults will love this healthy swap!

Maintaining your smile is as easy as keeping your regular dental check-ups and having a little mindfulness. Look for small, healthy swaps, and embrace the delicious fresh options summer can bring to your family’s table.

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

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

Keep Calm and Floss On

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On August 2nd, this New York Times article was published and caused quite a bit of controversy in both the dental community and with the general public. While it is not conclusive in its findings, the overarching claim is that flossing may not be as beneficial as once thought. As dental professionals, we take very seriously the responsibility we have ensuring our patients receive the best possible education and care regarding the health of their smiles. For this reason, we feel compelled to express our disagreement with the suggestion that flossing may be overrated, and why that’s a harmful position to propagate.
Let’s first look at the article, which uses a lot of language such as:
• “…flossing may be overrated.”
• “…most of the current evidence fell short…”
• “That flossing has the same benefit is a hunch that has never been proved.”
• “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis.”
There is a stark difference between something ‘not having been proved’ and something being ‘disproved’. Please know that there is no evidence remotely close to suggesting the latter. In fact whether the evidence is “mediocre” or not, the only evidence the article does mention (quoted above) is in favor of flossing. A lack of ability to prove something is not cause to discourage an entire population from participating in a highly beneficial component of their health care. This is particularly true because evidence is acquired by conducting large-scale studies, which are extremely costly. It would hardly be economical to spend the research funding to prove something we already have no doubt offers a variety of benefit for your oral and overall health.
We do not agree with the article’s brash call to action, or more accurately, call to inaction, and we fear how this may increase the number of people inflicted with preventable damage to their smile. Looking again at the line “…there is some mediocre evidence that flossing does reduce bloody gums and inflammation known as gingivitis.” Gingivitis is the first stage in periodontal disease – the very condition flossing aims to combat. To reduce gingivitis is to reduce your chances of progressing into advanced gum disease, a condition more than half of Americans already suffer from (CDC).
It is unfortunate the scale of damage this article has the potential to incite; too many readers will take this “lack of evidence” as being evidence to the contrary, and feel it gives them permission to neglect a very essential part of their oral health care.
We can only do our best to keep our patients like you educated and on the path to a lifelong happy and healthy smile – a path that certainly includes consistent flossing.
CDC: “Periodontal Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Mar. 2015. Web.

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?

 

BlogTitle_Amalgam

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

Dental Health and Pregnancy

Blog Title-ExpectingPregnantLady

Pregnancy changes a lot about the female body, which is no surprise considering all the physical and hormonal effects that take place over the course of those 9 months. All that considered, the profound connection between pregnancy and dental health can still be a shock to many.

As an example, the rapid surge in hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, can alter the manner in which gum tissue reacts to plaque. Plaque buildup affects everybody, so it’s always important to make sure your teeth are being cleaned thoroughly. However, ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ is a condition that affects the vast majority of mothers-to-be and should be carefully monitored. Prevention is always more useful than treatment, and for that reason we encourage a diet high in Vitamin C and B12 – don’t forget, baby’s teeth are developing too so it’s important to have a diet that’s nutritious for your teeth and theirs! Be sure to brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and floss each evening as well.

In addition to ‘pregnancy gingivitis’, pregnant women are also at risk for ‘pregnancy tumors’. These tumors are inflamed, but non-cancerous, growths that may develop when the gums become swollen and irritated. Usually the tumors will resolve themselves post-birth, but if you find one and it’s uncomfortable or painful, don’t hesitate to call our office so we can help you proceed with the right treatment for you.

In general, if you are either currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should always let your dentist know immediately in order to best proceed to minimize the risk of pregnancy-related complications. If needed, most procedures can be performed during pregnancy, particularly if you are in pain or have any concerns. However, we do not recommend any elective procedures until after the baby’s birth in order to minimize health risks to you or the child. Pregnancy does come with health concerns to be monitored, but as was the case before you received the news about your bundle of joy, consistent and thorough cleaning is always your best bet. Above all else, relax and enjoy this special time!

 

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

7 Serious Health Concerns That Also Affect Your Teeth

Mouth and Body Go Hand-in-Hand

Did you know that poor oral health care can be the cause of many different health issues within your body itself?  There are many connections between taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums and the rest of your body.

People with gum disease have a 40% increased risk of developing a chronic health condition. Bacterial build up on your teeth and gums give you a greater probability of infection which may then spread throughout other areas of your body.

Common Health Issues That Affect Oral HealthJune FB Candy (6)

  • Diabetes: causes oral inflammation and affects the body’s ability to process sugar.
  • Heart Disease: about 91% of those with heart disease are also found to have periodontitis. Inflammation in the mouth corresponds with the inflammation of blood vessels which then leads to less blood flow causing an increase in blood pressure.  There is also a chance of plaque that is attached to the blood vessel itself, breaking off and traveling to the heart and/or brain resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
  • Issues during Pregnancy: pregnant women with gum disease run the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and susceptible to developmental issues such as learning disorders, lung and heart conditions.
  • Osteoporosis: osteoporosis, like periodontitis, causes bone loss. It’s common for those with osteoporosis to also have some degree of gum disease.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: those with rheumatoid arthritis battling gum disease have found gum disease treatment may also reduce overall body pain in regards to their arthritic symptoms.
  • Smoking: bad for your health, both overall and oral.  Nicotine interferes with your gums’ ability to fight infection.  This also extends the recovery period for those gum infection treatments.
  • Obesity: those with 20% or higher body fat percentage have been linked to rapid progression of gum disease.

Taking excellent care of your oral health has a positive domino effect for the rest of your body.  Same can be said with your body – taking care of your health and body can positively affect your mouth, teeth and gums.
If you care about your health and yourself, you in-turn need to care about your mouth.  Be true to your teeth, or they will be false to 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

April: Oral Cancer Awareness Month

APRIL 2015

Early Detection Saves Lives

Oral cancer is nothing to take lightly.  Causing one death every hour, there will be approximately 45,750 new cases diagnosed this year alone.  It also tends to strike men twice as likely as women.

Contributing factors of oral cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive alcohol consumption (3+ drinks per day)
  • Over exposure to UV light
  • HPV Virus (sexually transmitted)

7% of diagnosed oral cancer cases that have no identified cause

Smokers are 3 times more likely to develop oral cancer.  Cigars and pipes pose a higher risk than standard cigarettes.

This is how to reduce your risk of oral cancer:

  • Brush & floss regularly
  • Do not use tobacco products
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Limit sun exposure and always use SPF sunscreen
  • Regular exercise
  • Nutritional supplements ( Vitamin D, Vitamin B, Zinc, Fish oil)
  • Oral cancer screening at your bi-annual dentist exam and cleaning

Cancer FightingThe way you prepare your meals can play a role as well.  Rather than frying food, give steaming or baking a try!  Bonus: these techniques are also more figure friendly

Cancer fighting foods:

  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Vegetables
  • Flaxseed
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Green Teas
  • Tomatoes

84% of oral cancer cases can be detected early by your dentist

Dental check-ups are vital to oral cancer detection.  Yes, you should be going in for dental check-ups twice a year anyways; however, request you get regularly scheduled oral cancer screenings as well!

Oral Cancer - spotOral Cancer Signs to Check at Home

  • Check the entirety of your mouth:
  • All the way inside of your cheeks
  • Underside and top of your tongue
  • Roof of your mouth
  • Lymph nodes

You’re looking for discoloration, lumps, asymmetrical swelling or any other abnormalities that you happen to see.  Even if you aren’t too sure about it, it never hurts to give us a call, ask questions and come in to have it checked out.

Get involved.  Help raise awareness.  Spread the word.  Get tested!

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

How to Help Your Kids Create Good Oral Hygiene Habits Now

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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and we’re dedicated to raising awareness!

In America, 51 million hours of school is missed every year due to oral health issues. Although every month should be important when it comes to a child’s dental health, February is the one dedicated to it. Here are things to keep in mind when helping children become conscious of just how important dental hygiene is and exactly how to start creating good habits right away:

  1. Keep the sugar intake to a minimum
  2. Floss, floss, floss
  3. Brush twice a day
  4. When you brush, make sure you hit the 2 minute mark
  5. Visit your dentist regularly

Have you ever seen that amazing “magic trick” when you ask your child “Did you brush your teeth?”  And they respond with a “yes” only because their toothbrush is wet?  Then come to find out, there was no brushing going on, they merely stuck their toothbrush under the faucet and wiped their front teeth once, maybe twice. Now is the perfect time to kick this bad habit!  Dental health can be fun for kids (and adults)!

Here are 4 ways to incorporate some fun and giggles into children’s daily oral care:

Toothpaste – a plethora of choices

Let’s start off with toothpaste.  There are gels, pastes, and so many different flavors; such as cinnamon, vanilla, bubble gum, and variety of different mint flavors.  Let your child choose which one they would prefer.

Flossing – 40% of cleaning your teeth comes from flossing

Floss comes in different flavors as well and also had a variety of textures.  There are waxed, woven, and even the hand held pick form to name a few.

Toothbrush – the master tool

Choosing a toothbrush will probably be your child’s favorite thing to do.  Not only are there options as far as handheld or battery operated, there are TONS of different designs now!  Your child can pick their favorite cartoon character or stick to the basics-like their favorite color.

Brushing Timer – brush 2 min 2x a day

While the tiny sand timers you flip upside down are always fun for kids to watch, there are now toothbrushes with built in timers. The brush will alert timer markers with a beep or a vibration for 2 minute duration, some even play a popular song.

Giving Kids Something to Look Forward To

This is the perfect way to create a morning and nighttime routine to get your child excited about developing healthy habits.  Getting your child involved in the decision making of choosing some cool and fun dental products makes them more apt to look forward to brushing and flossing daily.

Starting off good oral hygiene practice at a young age will propel your kids into the future for a lifetime of healthy pink gums and bright shining smiles!  A healthy smile is a smile you can be proud of!

Download Dental Word Search

References

http://www.ncohf.org/resources/tooth-decay-facts

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/still-not-flossing-more-reasons-why-you-should

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

5 Candy Alternatives That Will Keep Trick-or-Treaters Smiling

halloween-kidThe fall season brings an amazing amount of fun activities for you and your family. From the excitement of Halloween, to school fall festivals; kids and parents alike look forward to the cool weather and family memories. Unfortunately, Halloween and fall festivals can also do a number on your child’s teeth. Hard candies, sweet treats and sugary snacks can be cavities waiting to happen. Handing out Halloween candy doesn’t mean you have to hand out oral health disasters. There are a number of healthy alternatives to the candy bars and licorice- some that trick-or-treaters might even enjoy more than the sugar rush. The days of handing out apple slices and pennies to avoid contributing to tooth destruction are gone! Take a look at some of these creative trick-or-treat alternatives that will leave all the little ghosts and ghouls smiling throughout the year.

Applesauce Pouches

Applesauce is still a sweet treat, and not nearly as hard on the teeth. Not only that, they’re portable, affordable and a great way to avoid the mess of some other treats. You can get a pack of 48 pouches for about 35 dollars on Amazon, which is enough to give all the trick-or-treaters something healthy to smile about.

Mini LaraBars

Larabars are gluten free, vegan, kosher and only have about 8-11 grams of sugar per bar. They also come in mini form, making them perfect to hand out on Halloween. The great thing about these treats is that the kids won’t even know they’re healthy! LaraBars have flavors such as cherry pie, apple pie and cashew cookie and are just as delicious as the other mini candy bars that will be weighing down their bag. If you can’t find LaraBars, or they’re a little too pricey for you, granola bars of any kind will be a better choice than chocolate.

Vegan Rice Crispy Treats

Rice crispy treats are a delicious sweet treat for trick-or-treaters, but you don’t have to use all the sugary marshmallow to make them amazing. There are a number of recipes you can follow which swap out a few classic ingredients for something a little healthier in order to create the perfect Halloween snack. By using brown rice syrup instead of marshmallow, brown rice crisps instead of white rice and coconut oil instead of butter- you can make delicious, healthy treats that many claim are better than the original. Check out one the recipes here.

Sugar Free Gum

While sugar free gum may not be the most exciting item in your child’s bag, it’s still a quality alternative to all the junk they’ll be getting. You can get tasty sugar free gum such as Dubble Bubble and throw a few pieces in along with other healthy treats. Parents will appreciate the lack of sugar, and the kids (especially those kids who love their chewing gum) will be happy with a full bag of “candy.”

Toys

If you want to skip the food items altogether, many parents have opted to hand out toys instead. There are a number of items you can get in bulk for cheap such as pencils, erasers, stickers, mini water guns, temporary tattoos, mini play dough, sidewalk chalk, bouncing balls, bubbles and more. The possibilities are endless and none of these things will land your child in the dentist’s chair. If you’re thinking of skipping the candy and handing out toys, head to your local dollar store to find amazing deals on bulk items.

There’s also the option of handing out pre-made veggie and fruit snacks, however this may only be a good idea if you’re close with the surrounding neighbors. Parents are often a little leery of pre-prepared snacks and the time and money you spent might simply end up in the trash. These days there really are dozens of candy alternatives that don’t skimp on the flavor. Do your own research to find what works best for you and your family, have fun with it, and get everyone involved. Keep in mind that most trick-or-treaters will be over-flowing with the sugary stuff- so its good practice as a parent and oral health advocate to provide something that will keep their smiles healthy throughout the year.

Dr. Ernesto Mireles

Salinas Dental and Implant Centers

608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
(831) 443-3524