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How do I pick the right toothpaste for my needs?

January 15th, 2020

With so many toothpastes available in so many price ranges, it can be difficult to be sure you are selecting the right one for your needs. You need a product that not only protects against tooth decay, but also addresses any special concerns that Dr. Mark Emerson and our team have raised. Look for the American Dental Association seal and do some research to find the toothpaste that best meets your needs.

Choose a Product Approved by the American Dental Association

The American Dental Association approves dental products such as toothbrushes, dentures, mouthwashes, dental floss, and toothpastes when they meet certain quality standards. Before products can display the seal, the American Dental Association must verify that the product does what it claims to do. Look for the American Dental Association seal on the toothpaste package before you buy it. Also, check to make sure that the toothpaste contains fluoride, which helps protect against decay.

Consider Special Needs

You may be depending on your toothpaste to perform extra tasks beyond cleaning your teeth. These are some common concerns that the right toothpaste can address.

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Plaque or gingivitis
  • Tartar
  • Yellowing teeth

The American Dental Association’s website has a tool that lets users input their requirements and view a list of the toothpastes that carry the American Dental Association’s seal and address those particular oral health needs.

Make Your Children’s Tooth-Brushing Experience Fun

If you select toothpaste that contains fluoride and has the American Dental Association seal, most types of toothpaste will be fine for your children as long as they have no special needs. Allowing your kids to select fun toothpaste can encourage them to enjoy the brushing experience more, so that they brush more frequently and do a better job.

The following toothpaste characteristics can make brushing more fun for children.

  • Fun flavors, such as bubble gum, berry, and watermelon
  • Sparkles and swirls that make the toothpaste appear more attractive
  • Toothpaste that comes in a pump
  • Toothpaste with a container decorated with superheroes

The ABCs of Vitamin C

January 8th, 2020

A as in Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid is just another name for vitamin C, which is one of the so-called “essential nutrients.” These are nutrients that are necessary for our bodies to function properly, and which must be supplied through our diets. Why is ascorbic acid essential?

First and foremost, because we have to have vitamin C for the formation of collagen.

We’ve probably all seen the ads promoting collagen as a fountain of youth for our skin. Whether or not a cream can turn back time is a matter for debate, but there’s no question as to the vital role collagen performs in our own bodies. That’s because collagen is the substance that provides both structure and support to our tissues, forming the basis of the connective tissue that holds us together. (The Greek root “kolla” means glue!) Organs, blood vessels, muscles, bones, skin, even the dentin in our teeth all rely on collagen to function.  

And if that weren’t enough for one vitamin, vitamin C also helps the body repair tissue, absorb iron, form teeth and bones, produce neuro-transmitters, and acts as an antioxidant. Whew! So, how often should we be eating foods rich in vitamin C? Maybe more often that you would think.

B as in Biology

The human body is an amazing thing! We can store many of the essential nutrients we need to keep ourselves healthy in our livers and fat tissue, even if fresh food sources aren’t immediately available. Unfortunately, Vitamin C is one of those vitamins that we can’t store in the body. This means that unless we get the vitamin C we need in our diet on a regular basis, we’ll experience vitamin C deficiency. How serious is that?

The importance of vitamin C to our health can’t be overstated. Vitamin C deficiency over a period of months actually causes a serious disease called scurvy. Without vitamin C, collagen formation breaks down. And when collagen breaks down, it leads to the breakdown of all those parts of the body that rely on collagen. In the short term, scurvy causes gum pain, fatigue, weakness, and body aches. Over longer periods, scurvy can lead to bruising, skin hemorrhages, anemia, tooth loss, severe gum disease, organ failure, and even death.

Luckily for us, scurvy is largely a disease of the past, thanks to the easy availability of fresh fruits and vegetables which provide us with vitamin C. So, which items should we add to the shopping list?

C as in Citrus—and So Much More!

When we think vitamin C, we instantly picture citrus fruits. Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and all their cousins are a wonderful source of vitamin C. Looking for a little more variety? You’re in luck! Fruit fans can load up on strawberries, kiwi fruit, mangos, and papayas. Love your veggies? Red peppers, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli contain more vitamin C per serving than a medium orange. You can also take vitamin C supplements, but be sure to follow the recommended dosage. You can have too much of a good thing.

While we’re here, let’s add one last letter to the list:

  • D as in Dental Health

So, why are we talking about vitamin C on a dental blog? Because vitamin C is essential to our dental health. Healthy gum tissue, strong connective tissues that hold our gums to our teeth and our teeth in our jaws, faster healing, antioxidants—all have been linked to a diet rich in vitamin C.

Careful brushing and flossing, regular checkups and cleanings at our San Diego office, a balanced diet—these are all ways you can be proactive when it comes to your dental health. Talk to Dr. Mark Emerson about the best vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth and gums. Vitamin C is a great beginning, but there’s still an alphabet from vitamin A to Zinc left to go!

 

Healthy Resolutions for Healthy Teeth

January 1st, 2020

Every January 1st, you have your resolutions ready. No more nail biting. Lose ten pounds. Stop smoking. None of us are happy about those annoying bad habits we’ve picked up over the years. But if nothing else has helped you keep your resolutions, maybe seeing how they can improve your oral health will give you some extra willpower.

  • No More Nail Biting

You can easily see how nail biting affects your fingernails, but its effects are more than cosmetic. The pressure this habit puts on tooth enamel can lead to cracks, chips, and enamel erosion. Nail biters have a greater risk of bruxism, or teeth grinding. (More on that below.) And the transfer of germs from fingers to mouth and mouth to fingers is a vicious circle that can lead to illnesses and infections in both fingers and mouth.

  • Cut Down on Junk Food

Sugars and carbs help pack on the pounds, no doubt. Did you know that they can also help create cavities? Sugar is a favorite food for oral bacteria, which allows them to produce acids which attack and weaken tooth enamel. And carbs? They convert easily to simple sugars. Choose nutritious snacks and beverages, and you will keep those teeth healthy. You might even lose a few pounds!

  • Lower the Volume

If your partner complains about sleepless nights thanks to your nocturnal teeth grinding, or your friends ask you to quit chewing on that cup of ice while they’re trying to watch a movie with you, listen to them! (If you can hear them over the grinding and chewing.) Bruxism can fracture teeth, cause headaches and jaw problems, and might even lead to loose teeth. Chewing hard foods can have the very same effects. Too much pressure from any source can damage your teeth. Grinding, chewing ice, crunching down on hard candies—any habit that’s loud enough to annoy others could be a warning to be more careful of your teeth.

  • Don’t Put That in Your Mouth!

Helping you eat and chew nutritious foods—of course. Smiling—absolutely. Ripping off a piece of duct tape, tearing open a potato chip bag, holding your dog’s leash while you look for your keys, opening a tight bottle cap—no, no, no, and really no. Fractures and chips are common injuries when you use your teeth as tools. Your teeth have a crucial job to do, but that job description never includes “scissors” or “nutcracker” or “bottle opener.” Take that extra minute and find the tool you need!

  • Drink in Moderation

Along with all the other consequences of over-indulging, too much alcohol in your diet can be bad for your oral health. Alcohol, especially paired with sugary drinks, helps create that acidic environment that leads to weakened enamel. More than that, it’s dehydrating. Without sufficient hydration, we don’t have the optimal saliva production we need to fight cavities. After all, saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria, neutralizes acids, and strengthens enamel through remineralization. Ring in the New Year—moderately!

  • It’s Time to Quit

Cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco—there is no tobacco product that is healthy for your body or your teeth! We’re all familiar with the discoloration tobacco can cause, but it also has serious oral health consequences. Oral cancer, gum disease, early tooth loss—all these conditions have been linked to tobacco use. Today there are more methods than ever before to help you quit. Make this your year!

You don’t have to wait for the New Year to start working on healthier habits. If you’d like to tackle teeth grinding, banish nail biting, stop smoking, or work on any other habits that can damage your health and your teeth, talk to Dr. Mark Emerson at your next visit to our San Diego office. And, don’t forget—resolving to see us twice a year for a checkup and a cleaning is a resolution that’s extremely easy to keep!

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

December 25th, 2019

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Dr. Mark Emerson and our team at Bay View Dental hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!