Wine Country Perio & Implantology

Dental Implants: What Should I Believe?

Dental Implants have become commonplace, with over 3 million people worldwide hosting some sort of implant. Unfortunately, their rising popularity has been accompanied by an increasing number of misconceptions about what they can and can’t do.

Let us help you to understand which of these common messages are true and which are fabricated.

Message #1: Dental implants are more expensive than traditional restorative methods.

Verdict: True and False. While the initial implant installation is more costly than other dental restorative procedures, over time, maintaining dental implants is much easier and cheaper. Other procedures require eventual replacement.  For example, dentures require replacement after 5-10 years while dental bridges must be replaced every 7-10 years.  So in the long run, dental implants can be less expensive than these alternative procedures.

Message #2: Dental implants are exceedingly painful.

Verdict: False. Like most forms of oral surgery, dental implant installation does involve some discomfort. However, patient accounts reveal that the pain is not worse than any typical tooth extraction as doctors use local anesthesia to address and minimize any discomfort during the procedure.

Message #3: Dental implant placement often fails.

Verdict: False. While dental implants do have the possibility of falling out, it is very rare for this to happen. In fact, reports show that 98% of dental implant surgeries are successful.

Message #4: Only young people should get dental implants.

Verdict: False. There is no reason healthy, elderly patients cannot receive implants.  In fact, there are many cases of patients 90 and older undergoing dental implant placement surgery with great success!

Don’t let these common misconceptions get in the way of your decision to get dental implants. Give us a call…we’d be happy to discuss your concerns about dental implants with you to give you a better idea of what this procedure can do for you.

Dental Checkups: How Important are they?

We know that for most people, going to the dentist’s office is not high on their list of favorite things to do.  A visit to the dentist takes up valuable time in our busy, modern schedules!

So we are not surprised that we hear this question time and time again from our patients: “Is going to the dentist twice a year really worth it?”  And the answer is always the same:  “Absolutely!”

Why?  We’ll give you two good reasons right here:

Reason #1:  Save yourself from pain!

The fact of the matter is that dental problems do not simply heal themselves on their own.  In our practice, we are trained to detect problems and fix them before they get out of hand, saving you pain (and money) down the road.  Using the dentist’s office only as an emergency room when you have an agonizing toothache will only cause you more pain in the long run.

Reason #2:  Save yourself money!

Regular checkups and cleanings are also relatively inexpensive when compared to the cost of fixing much bigger dental problems (for example, a tooth that requires a root canal or extraction).  Let us treat your oral health problems before they become unnecessarily complicated and costly.

Twice a year for better oral health!

Most oral health professionals recommend that you have your gums and teeth cleaned and checked once every six months. If they appear healthy, then this interval may be extended.

Don’t wait until you have tooth pain that is out of control!  If we see you regularly for check ups, we can avoid many of these bigger problems together!  Call us to schedule your next checkup.

Diabetes and Oral Health – A Two-Way Street

If you, a friend or a family member have diabetes, you may have heard that this common disease increases a person’s risk of gum disease and other oral health problems.  But did you know that this relationship is a mutually distressing one?  Not only does diabetes make gum disease worse, but gum disease can actually make diabetes worse too by interfering with blood-glucose management strategies.

Here, we shine some light on the relationship between diabetes and oral health, and what you can do about it.

Diabetes makes it difficult for the body to fight infection.  Whether the infection is located in the mouth, the leg or any other part of the body, poor circulation suppresses the immune system, making it harder for the body’s natural infection fighting responders to do their job.  This means that if you have diabetes, you are more prone to gum disease, and other oral health problems too such as thrush and dry mouth.

On the flip-side, gum disease can also make diabetes worse.  Whenever the body is fighting illness or an infection (such as a cold or the flu or even gum disease), blood sugar spikes are harder to control with regular methods and thus extra monitoring and control-measures are required.

Are you wondering what you can do to minimize this damage?  First and foremost, keep your blood sugar under control using the methods that your physician has prescribed.  Next, practice good oral health maintenance with regular brushing and flossing.  And finally, don’t skip regular trips to the dentist and other oral health professionals.  If you have diabetes, you cannot afford to ignore this important part of your body.

Teeth Nerve Stem Cells Signal New Age of Recovery

Have you ever thought about the possibility of growing new teeth? Of course, when we are younger, this phenomenon does occur, with adult teeth replacing our missing baby teeth. Many scientists and doctors, however, believed it was impossible, or highly unlikely for adults to ever form new teeth.

Yet only recently, researchers in Sweden have discovered that such a feat may one day become commonplace. While most scientists did know that the pulp in teeth contains a certain amount of stem cells, the Swedish researchers of the Karolinska Institute have discovered the origin of these cells.

These stem cells are typically used to help reform damaged teeth by assisting with the restoration of tooth tissue. Upon further examination, however, the researchers have discovered that these stem cells originally were nerve cells of the tooth. These cells leave the nerves at early stages of development, changing their identity to become part of the connective tissue, which forms dentin underneath the enamel.

The future possibilities for this discovery are almost endless. Using these nerve tissues, it may be possible for scientists to manipulate the stem cells to form new adult teeth. As these teeth will essentially be copies of one’s original teeth, this innovative process may replace veneers and other restorative processes as the best form of teeth restoration.

In fact, the benefits of this discovery may not stop with just teeth. Igor Adameyko, from Sweden’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, believes that all types of peripheral nerves, not just the ones found in teeth, “may function as important stem cell reserves.” Adameyko hypothesized that these “multipotent stem cells can depart from the nerves and contribute to the healing and reformation of tissues in different parts of the body.”

To summarize this exciting research, tooth nerve cells may be the key to a new wave of human recovery and restoration, and adult tooth creation is only one of these recently discovered benefits!

Dental Implants: Five Things You May Not Know

How much do you know about dental implants?  With the increasing popularity and availability of dental implant surgery worldwide, patients are gaining more and more knowledge about dental implants every day.

But did you know these five important facts?

  1. Dental implants are appropriate for almost all ages.  Not just for the elderly, dental implants are frequently placed even in the mouths of young adults.  As long as the jaw has stopped growing (after puberty; age 16 for girls and age 18 for boys), a dental implant can be placed with great success.
  2. The titanium post actually fuses (osseointegrates) with the natural jawbone.  They grow together to form a stronger foundation for replacement teeth.  So dental implants actually improve the bone structure in the jaw, they don’t just fill it in.
  3. The “dental implant” is actually just the titanium post, one of three parts of the whole process.  Other parts used in the full procedure that we think of as “dental implant surgery” are known as the abutment (the connector) and the actual replacement tooth itself (the crown).
  4. Dental implants preserve jawbone, whereas other teeth replacement options can lead to bone deterioration.  Bone is similar to muscle in that it must be used in order to maintain its mass.  When a tooth goes missing and the site is left untreated, the jawbone underneath tends to deteriorate.  Dental implants eliminate this problem by securing a natural-like tooth right into the jawbone and thus utilizing (and preserving) that area of bone.
  5. Dental implants protect their neighbors.  By contrast, a traditional, tooth-supported bridge involves the grinding away of the teeth on either side to act as a hammock for the bridge.  With dental implants, the jaw is the anchor and support for the artificial tooth.

The bottom line?  Dental implants offer a safe and manageable alternative to traditional tooth replacement methods.

The 6 Tips Your Toothbrush Wants to Tell You

You already know how important I am to your oral health. That’s why you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day.

However, are you aware of how much bacteria lives on your toothbrush? Researchers have found that a single toothbrush can have as many as 10 million germs and bacteria! But, don’t let this statistic scare you away from brushing. These bacteria aren’t a huge threat to your teeth according to, because its been researched that these germs don’t make people sick.

That’s because toothpaste is made with an anti-germ component.

So what is your toothbrush trying to tell you to help prevent all these germs?

1. Keep me clean and dry!

It’s important that you use your toothbrush correctly. Always make sure to rinse it in tap water and give it time to air dry. Germs need moisture to survive, so as long as you give your brush enough time to dry before using it, you should be fine. Make sure not to leave any toothpaste or debris in the head of your brush, rinse it well!

2. Store me upright!

When you’re at home, store your toothbrush upright in a cup or toothbrush holder. This allows it to air dry, which will help kill those germs.

On the road? When traveling make sure to keep your toothbrush in a travel holder, that way it isn’t rolling around uncovered and collecting bacteria in your bag.

If you really want to be in the clear you can soak your toothbrush in a toothbrush sanitizer or in mouth wash. Another alternative to kill germs is dipping your toothbrush in boiling water for 5-10 seconds.

Don’t ever attempt to microwave or dishwasher your toothbrush, these appliances will damage your toothbrush!

3. Don’t brush where you flush!

Try to store your toothbrush as far away as possible from the toilet. This is because each toilet flush sends a spray of bacteria into the air and I’m sure you don’t want that near your open toothbrush! We recommend at least 3 feet!

4.  I only want one owner!

Don’t share! Forget what your kindergarden teacher told you about sharing. When it comes to toothbrushes, it’s an absolute no! No matter how close you may be to that person, whether it’s your sibling or spouse, don’t ever use their toothbrush.

5. It’s time for us to say Goodbye!

The American Dental Association recommends getting a new toothbrush about every three months.

This also depends on the wear of the bristles. Some people brush with a heavy hand and therefore their bristles may wear out sooner. It’s important to judge when it’s time for a replacement based upon the bristles, so don’t mark it in your calendar, just keep a look at your bristles. If you have children be sure to check their brushes regularly because they will probably need to be replaced more often.

6. Let me remind you!

Some toothbrush brands such as Oral-B feature color changing bristles. That way after a few months of use your reminded that it’s time!

You can also pick up the habit of replacing your toothbrush the first day of every season.   That way you’re replacing it four times a year, with an average of 3 months per a brush.

Dental Implants: Changing the Way We Treat Missing Teeth

Dental implants are rapidly becoming the standard of care in how we, as dental professionals, deal with missing teeth.    And while the incidents of adults losing permanent teeth has been declining for decades, there is still a good chance that at some point in your life you too will require treatment for a lost permanent tooth.

The way this was treated in the past was by one of two methods.  The first method was to install a bridge.  The second commonly used method was dentures.  But both of those methods present their own challenges and hassles to patients.  Thankfully, dental implants have improved so much over the years that more often than not they are a better choice for a patient’s oral care plan.

Here are our top five reasons that dental implants have a leg up on their old competitors.

  1. Almost Natural:  Dental implants are so sturdy that they feel and function just like a natural tooth.  This is achieved by inserting a screw into the jaw which is allowed to bond with the bone in that area.
  2. Longevity:  Dentures are a long term solution and have the ability to last a lifetime when properly placed and taken care of.  By contrast, traditional bridges last only about 5-7 years.
  3. Fully Functional:  Unlike dentures, which have a tendency to slip or feel uncomfortable and might even cause worry about possible embarrassments in public, dental implants don’t move when you are eating, talking or moving around.
  4. Face Shape Protection:  When a permanent tooth is lost, over time the face and smile can sag.  Dental implants fill in those spaces and allow you to keep your natural face shape longer!
  5. Keeps your Jaw in Shape!  Dental implants actually stimulate natural bone growth when set in the jaw.  Without them, the jaw gets lazy and can deteriorate.

If you have a site in your mouth where you are missing a tooth and have been wondering what to do about it, give us a call today for a consultation to see just how great dental implants can be!

What Good Oral Health Means when you are Pregnant

If you are pregnant, you probably already know how important it is to take care of your body during this exciting time.  A good, nutritious diet, regular moderate exercise and adequate sleep help protect both your health and the health of your baby.  But what you may not already know is how important your oral health is during pregnancy also.

Recent research has suggested that women with periodontal disease may have a higher risk of unwanted childbirth complications, such as pre-term labor and low birth weight of the baby.   However, luckily, the opposite is also true!  A thorough exam by your oral health specialist may decrease the chance that you will have these pregnancy and labor problems.

Now we may have you wondering, “What exactly is periodontal disease?”  Simply put, it is “gum disease”, a chronic inflammatory condition in the gums that is caused by the presence of bacteria.

So what can you do about it?  To ensure the best health outcome for you and your baby, in addition to receiving regular medical care from your obstetrician, be sure to see your dentist or periodontist on schedule during your pregnancy as well.  And, as always, practice good dental hygiene at home with routine brushing and flossing.

These simple steps that we all should be doing anyway might just save you and your baby from potentially serious complications when the birthday comes!


Considering an Upgrade to Dental Implants?

Have you been thinking of upgrading your current tooth replacement strategy but aren’t sure where to start?  This is a great time of growth in modern dentistry, especially when it comes to replacing missing teeth!  With the evolution of dental implants, patients don’t have to suffer some of the pains of the past when older, traditional tooth replacement methods were used.

Traditionally, missing teeth were always “fixed” with bridges or dentures.  And while both of those procedures are still in use by dentists and do still serve an important purpose, they often cause unintended problems in the mouth that modern dental implants may be able to alleviate, or avoid completely.

What is a dental implant, you may be asking?  At the most basic level, a dental implant is simply a prosthetic tooth that is mounted to a metal post which is screwed into the jaw bone.  The procedure is typically done in two visits.  During the first procedure, a titanium screw is inserted into the jawbone, where it is allowed to “settle in” and bond, a process that takes about six to eight months.  After that, the dentist creates a prosthetic tooth and attaches it to the titanium post for a fully functional (yet fake) tooth!

The benefit of dental implants is that, unlike dentures, they are almost unnoticeable by the patient.  Anyone who has had dentures knows that they tend to slip and wear down and sometimes even cause mild pain or discomfort.  With dental implants, you will not even know they are there.  They function just like a natural tooth in your mouth, no slipping, movement or separate cleaning required.  Similarly, patients who are used to receiving bridges may benefit by an upgrade to an implant as bridges have a tendency to invite bacteria and infection, requiring additional replacements.

Whatever your concerns about dental implants are, we are here to help.  Give us a call today to see if dental implants might be right for you!


Chomp! Fun Facts about Teeth

As children, we are obsessed with our teeth.  Counting them, watching them fall out and grow back in.  Waiting for the tooth fairy’s surprise.  And as adults, we are still obsessed with them, but maybe in a different way (as in “why do they always hurt and why aren’t they white anymore?”)  So just for fun, and to further indulge in this fascination with teeth (See?  It’s not just dentists that are obsessed with them), here are some fun facts about teeth.

This is a great article to share with your children!  How many of these facts did you already know?

Sharks don’t get cavities.  Why?  Because their teeth are coated in fluoride.  That combined with the fact that they have rows and rows of replacement teeth, ready to go at a moment’s notice, give them an unfair advantage over humans when it comes to oral health.

You are lucky!  You have three types of teeth:  (1) Incisors to bite pieces off, (2) Canines to hold and tear, and (3) molars to grind food.  This allows you to eat a wide variety of foods.  Some animals, like crocodiles, aren’t so lucky, they only have sharp teeth to grab and kill, which greatly reduces their restaurant choices.

Enamel is the hardest material in the human body.  It is considered the last line of defense for your tooth.  Normal wearing down of enamel does occur over time and is simply a part of aging.  But bacteria can cause this breakdown to accelerate, which is why we brush and floss regularly!

Taste buds only live for about 10 days, or 2 weeks if they are lucky.  They go through a life cycle just like every other cell renewal processes in the body.

Sharkskin is covered in teeth.  Don’t believe me?  Both sharks and their cousins, rays, are covered in what are called dermal denticles.  Although they look like scales they are actually just modified teeth, with an enamel coating and all!  These protect them and also help them swim faster, but enough about sharks.

The jaw muscle, called the “masseter”, is the strongest muscle in the body if we are talking about strength based by weight.  When all of these muscles work together, the jaw exerts 55 pounds of weight on the incisors and 200 pounds on the molars.  This is why we take jaw disorders like teeth grinding, TMJ and bruxism very seriously – that’s a lot of force!  Call us today if you suspect you might be a teeth grinder.

Did you know any of these fun facts about teeth already or did we surprise you?