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dental cleaning thousand oaks

Dental Questions: Will my teeth be whiter after a dental cleaning?

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Dental Questions: Will my teeth be whiter after a dental cleaning?

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Have you ever had your teeth cleaned only to see no noticeable difference in their appearance? Your mouth may feel cleaner, but the shade of your dental enamel probably didn't change too much. Read on to find out why this is the case, and what a routine cleaning actually achieves!

For the majority of the population, yellow and discolored teeth are caused by something called intrinsic staining. Here, the teeth pick up pigment in the dentin layer beneath the outer enamel. No amount of brushing, scrubbing or abrasive products will remove these compounds. A smaller portion of the population will be effected by extrinsic staining. This occurs when a combination of deeply colored foods, plaque and tartar discolor the surface of the teeth. This staining most commonly effects smokers, heavy coffee drinkers and those with deficiencies in their daily oral care. Because this staining only involves the outermost layer of the teeth, brushing and flossing will have some control over its presence.

As you can probably see, dental cleanings will have little to no affect on intrinsic staining. To take care of dentin layer staining, you will need to use a specific bleaching system like white strips, bleach trays or ZOOM whitening. However, extrinsic staining will be readily addressed by a routine "prophy" cleaning. Since these stains are adhered to the surface of the teeth, mechanical polishing and scaling will eliminate them with ease. 

Your routine cleaning serves three general purposes: to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth, allow a dental professional to asses changes in your oral health, and provide feedback on your home care between visits. The combined goal of these objectives is to protect the teeth from periodontal disease and the progression of tooth decay. Any improvements in the cosmetic appearance of the teeth after a cleaning is a celebrated secondary benefit. If you would like to know more about dental cleanings, dental staining or whitening, please give our office a call!

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Get your teeth back in shape!

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Get your teeth back in shape!

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New year new you, right? If you're hitting the gym and shaping up as part of your new year's resolution, why not include your teeth in that plan? Here's a list of some of our favorite products and techniques for getting your oral health in peak performance.

Cut out the "slow" sugar- Are you a frequent snacker? Are you always sipping on a mocha or soda? These habits that involve consuming sugars and carbs over long periods of time are detrimental to your dental enamel health. Try to cut down on duration of consumption or switch to low/no sugar options like carrots, water or cheese (no crackers). Remember to rinse with water after every meal!

Get a mouth rinse that fits your needs- Most patients gravitate towards alcohol based mouth rinses like Listerine for the satisfying burn and promises of a healthier mouth. These types of rinses are great for patients with periodontal problems. However, many are at higher risk of developing cavities than periodontal disease and would not see much benefit from these products. For them, we would recommend a fluoride rinse like Act Fluoride or Carifree Ctx3 (available at our office). 

Go Electric- If you haven't tried an electric toothbrush yet, now is the time! They make brushing easier, more convenient and generally more enjoyable. Make sure to look for a product with a built in timer and pressure sensor. 

Brighten your smile- Not satisfied with the shade of your teeth? There are a number of awesome tooth whitening services and products available today. At our office, Dr. Kari Ann Hong offers both take-home bleach trays and in-office single visit whitening. If you are interested in trying an over-the-counter method, we recommend Crest Whitestrips and the like. 

Stick to the basics- Beyond any viral videos and secret techniques, brushing for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily is the hands down best way to keep on top of your oral hygiene. No other product, service or trick can match the efficacy of this regimen. Don't overcomplicate it!

Check in for your check ups- Regular dental exams and cleanings are crucial to your oral health. There is simply no substitute for the expertise of a dental hygienist and dentist in keeping your teeth in tip top shape. You'll save money too- catching small problems early on avoids the need for large fillings, crowns, extractions and other invasive procedures. 

We hope you found our list informative! If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact our office.

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Dental Questions: Why Do I Need A Deep Cleaning?

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Dental Questions: Why Do I Need A Deep Cleaning?

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According to recent estimates from the CDC, about half of all American adults have some form of periodontal disease. In these patients, gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue) has progressed to affect the bone and tissue levels around the teeth. The body's natural response to tarter (hardened plaque) is to lower the bone levels around the teeth, creating deep periodontal pockets.

In normal, healthy tissue, the pockets around the teeth have a depth of about 1-3 millimeters. With a toothbrush or floss, you can clean to a depth of about 4mm at home. Additionally, a toothbrush can remove soft, loose plaque but is ineffective at removing hardened tartar. Cleaning pockets deeper than 5mm or removing tartar from teeth requires the skills of a dental hygienist or a dentist. 

Patients with Severe periodontitis have pockets over 5mm on multiple sites throughout their mouths along with gum recession, bleeding and excessive tartar. For this group, a simple cleaning will not suffice. To manage their disease, a hygienist/dentist will provide a deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing.  Here, the gums are numbed so that the ulcerated tissue around the deep pockets is undisturbed by the cleaning process. The practitioner then proceeds to remove all tartar and plaque from the teeth, including the areas far below the gum line. This process is commonly performed over multiple appointments, so that your entire mouth is not numbed at once. 

The ultimate goal of a deep cleaning is to plane the roots of the teeth so that new tissue can heal around them, creating shallower pockets. However, the deep cleaning session is only a half treatment. We can get the teeth cleaned and ready to heal, but periodontal disease can only be managed long term with good oral hygiene- brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily. 

Scaling and root planing is only one of many options in treating periodontitis. Depending on the location and severity of the disease, a general dentist or periodontist might recommend anything from a deep cleaning to gum surgery. As with everything in dentistry, a complete exam (including X-rays) is imperative in creating an appropriate treatment plan. If you would like to schedule an appointment today, please contact our office!

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Dental Questions: Should I be using mouthwash?

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Dental Questions: Should I be using mouthwash?

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With the wide variety of mouthwashes and rinses available today, choosing a product for yourself can be quite the challenge. Between Listerine, Biotene, ACT rinse and others, there is certainly a multitude of options. However, which product should you be using? Should you be using any mouth rinses? Read on to find out how to choose the best product for your oral health. 

Many patients will start using a mouthwash as a response to bad breath. In reality, the best a mouthwash can do is mask bad breath with its flavoring. Even the strongest tasting and most astringent rinses can only help as a temporary measure. Your best bet in preventing bad breath is upping your home hygiene. Specifically, flossing and tongue brushing can have a noticeable and lasting impact on the way your breath smells.

Listerine is the most widely recognized and used mouth rinse on the market. Many patients seek the burning sensation under the idea that "if it hurts- it's working." In reality, Listerine and other alcohol based mouthwashes are designed to target periodontal disease. These rinses rely on alcohol to eliminate bacteria in the gums and pockets around the teeth. Patients with healthy gum tissue will likely not see any marked benefit from using these products. On the contrary, alcohol rinses tend to be slightly acidic which can contribute to enamel demineralization and the tooth decay process. 

For those that are interested in using a mouthwash, almost everyone can benefit from ACT Fluoride Rinse. While it lacks the burn of alcohol based mouthwashes, ACT rinse contains a therapeutic concentration of fluoride. Since Fluoride works by being in contact with dental enamel, using it in a rinse to bathe your teeth is an excellent application. For the best use, rinse with ACT after brushing, spit, and do not rinse with water. Allowing the product to have maximum contact with the teeth is key to its cavity fighting powers!

For patients with chronically dry mouths (a condition called xerostomia), products such as Biotene are an excellent choice. One of the main ingredients in Biotene is xylitol, a natural sugar substitute. In this application, xylitol helps stimulate salivation and protects against cavity causing bacteria. Because our natural saliva is protective against tooth decay, patients with dry mouths are at an extremely high risk for developing new cavities. Overall, Biotene can have a significant impact on the comfort and dental health of those patients with xerostomia. 

It is important to remember that patients with excellent oral health may not need to use a mouthwash. For many, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing is sufficient to maintain tooth and gum health. If you would like more advice on rinses or any other part of oral hygiene, feel free to give our office a call!

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Dental Questions: Why do my gums bleed when I floss?

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Dental Questions: Why do my gums bleed when I floss?

An example of proper flossing technique.

An example of proper flossing technique.

Gums bleeding while flossing is a frequently recorded complaint at every dental office. Many patients are turned off from flossing as it becomes painful, messy and inconvenient. However, it is important to understand that your gums are probably bleeding because you need to floss more often. 

Plaque accumulates in the spaces between teeth because toothbrushes do a poor job of reaching these areas. As plaque settles at/below the gum line, the tissues there become inflamed, thin and ulcerated. As you floss, you are both eliminating the plaque and bacteria from these areas and temporarily aggravating the  gum tissue (hence the bleeding). Over time, the absence of buildup will allow the gums to heal and rethicken, stopping the bleeding. 

A knee-jerk response to bleeding on flossing is to floss less often or less vigorously. While you may be physically cutting the gums with floss, a proper technique will avoid this. Make sure you thread the floss in between the teeth and move it up the side of each tooth at each contact. Try to "cup" the floss around the teeth and allow it to go slightly below the gum line. This will maximize effectiveness and minimize gingival inflammation. If you would like to know more about flossing, oral hygiene or dental cleanings, please contact our office!

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