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Call Us Today!
(805) 543-7993
Call Us Today!
(805) 543-7993

Helpful Hints

helpful hints

Acing Your Next Checkup
 

Ace your next dental exam by studying some simple tips. Visiting the dentist doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. By practicing a few simple and inexpensive steps, you can improve your dental health while making your trip to the dentist’s chair an uneventful one.
 
After brushing your teeth, don’t rinse.
This may sound strange, but after spending two to five minutes exposing your teeth to multiple cleaning and strengthening compounds, why would you want to wash them away before they have had time to work? Instead, don’t rinse, eat or drink for 30 minutes to get the full benefits from your efforts.
 
If you chew gum or mints, pay attention to the ingredients.
Recent research has shown the sugar substitute Xylitol actually fights cavities. So by chewing sugar-free gum with Xylitol as the main sugar substitute, you are helping fight cavities in two ways: First, you aren’t feeding the bacteria sugar, and second, Xylitol actually fights the bacteria.
 
Drink, don’t sip your soda.
From a dental standpoint, it is better to drink a soda in one sitting than to sip on it over the course of a day, even if this means you drink more than one sugary drink per day. After taking a sip of any sugary substance, it takes 30 minutes for your body to neutralize the harmful effects. If you drink one soda in 30 minutes, 30 minutes later your mouth will be neutralized of the effects of the soda. If you take one sip every 30 minutes, you’ll be doing harm to your teeth all day long. If you insist on drinking a little at a time, keep a water bottle handy and take a sip after you drink juice or soda.
 
Brush your whole mouth, not just your teeth.
Teeth are only 25 percent of your mouth. By brushing your tongue, gums and the roof of your mouth, you will decrease the amount of bacteria and freshen your breath.
 
Buy a new toothbrush.
Sounds like common sense, but most people do not replace their toothbrush often enough. If the bristles aren’t standing straight up it is time for a new brush. While you’re at it, buy floss and, if you’re feeling really adventurous, mouthwash. Total annual cost of dental supplies is about $17 – keeping your teeth ... priceless.
 
Tobacco – A Reminder
 

I know a doctor who always asks his patients who smoke: “How is your cancer medication treating you?”
 
He claims to get a profound response nearly every time. In my experience, I find people know the most significant risk of tobacco usage – cancer – and get defensive when a health care professional addresses this issue. It seems people either think they are impervious to cancer or don’t care enough about themselves or their loved ones to really evaluate what developing cancer could do to them, or their families.
 
Let’s start with some numbers. Tobacco use is associated with 30 percent of cancer deaths in the United States annually. Of the population, 26 percent of people currently smoke and approximately 3 percent are smokeless tobacco users. Smokeless tobacco leads to an increase of 50 percent in prevalence of oral cancers.
 
Carcinogens, the things that cause cancer, don’t care how old you are. They care little about how much you use: Even a minor tobacco habit in a susceptible person can cause lung and oral cancers in a very short period of time.
 
For most, though, tobacco use is like Russian roulette. The longer you partake the more likely you’ll have a bad outcome.
 
For those who aren’t familiar, let us revisit what cancers associated with tobacco use can do.
 
If caught early and treated, one can expect dry mouth due to destruction of salivary glands from radiation therapy – and you thought the occasional cottonmouth was bad! You can expect alteration in taste and smell, chronic jaw and tooth pain, tooth decay, skin changes, loss of hair, nausea, and a myriad of other side effects, often irreversible, just associated with treatment.
 
As far as the cancer itself, loss of your tongue, lips, jaws, palate and more are common when surgery is required to remove cancerous lesions.
 
Just because you don’t develop cancer doesn’t mean you’re free from negative effects of tobacco. Smoke and smokeless tobacco users are at high risk for tooth decay, tooth loss, tooth and mouth sensitivity, gum disease, bad breath, staining, tartar build-up and hairy tongue – gross because it looks like your tongue has brown or yellow hair.
 
Some of these symptoms are reversible, but others are not. Smokers also are at an elevated risk of complications during surgery and, in some cases, are no longer candidates for procedures that can be lifesaving or quality-of-life improving. The use of tobacco is closely linked with cancers of the lungs, mouth, esophagus, voice box, tongue, cervix, kidneys, and bladder.
 
Aside from cancer, tobacco use is associated with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders, heart disease, emphysema, and hypertension, to list just a few.
 
In people who neither smoke nor drink, cancer of the mouth and throat are nearly non-existent. It may not happen to you, but is the enjoyment of tobacco worth the very real and devastating side effects that may follow for you and your family?
 
If you have any desire to quit tobacco, please contact your physician, dentist, counselor, or one of the many tobacco-cessation outreach programs available today. We all would be very happy to help.
 
Team with Your Dentist to Ensure Your Child’s Dental Health
 

Wouldn’t it be nice if dental care for kids had a schedule like immunizations do? Often times, parents (both new and experienced) ask me when their child should have their first dental visit, when should they start braces, when will their baby teeth fall out, when should their wisdom teeth get removed?
 
All of these are great questions. Here are some general guidelines to help you make these decisions. Remember, though, there is no set dental care calendar. The best thing to do is ask your dentist.
 
When should I take my child for his or her first dental visit?
It is recommended children start getting regular dental checkups when their first tooth erupts or at six months, whichever comes first.
 
These visits are important because of the information on nutrition, hygiene, and other valuable areas they provide for the parents. Also, these visits familiarize your child with seeing the dentist, making future visits more comfortable.
 
While it is not likely that this five-minute appointment will result in many significant findings, it is possible to identify some developmental issues early on with regular dental appointments. Normally, no X-rays will be taken unless something funny is going on. After this first visit, you can expect a recall every six to 12 months, depending on the dentist and the child.
 
When should my child start braces?
This is the trickiest question because of all the variables that go into it. There are many approaches to straightening teeth. Some involve early intervention, some involve removing teeth and some involve two or more phases.
 
If your child is getting regular checkups, his or her dentist will be the best adviser. If not, here are a few indicators that braces may be necessary: Your child is young and his or her teeth seem very crowded, or some permanent teeth are not coming in after baby teeth are lost. If your child’s profile seems significantly off, or if his or her lower teeth are wider than the uppers when biting together, it is generally a good idea to see an orthodontist.
 
If you don’t see any of these problems then when your child is somewhere between seven to nine years of age is a good time to check into braces. After puberty has started, it is much more involved to fix some dental problems, so keep up with those regular checkups.
 
When will my child’s baby teeth fall out?
Baby teeth are very important. Take care of them, brush them, floss them and get them enough fluoride. Healthy baby teeth are vital to proper development of speech, jaws, social status, and esthetics.
 
Some of these teeth will only be around for four to five years. Some will be around for eight years or longer. If a permanent tooth doesn’t come in behind it, you can have some of these teeth for your entire life.
 
That said, baby teeth start to fall out when a child is around six years old and the process continues until ages 12 to 13. Front teeth go first, followed by molars and canines. The permanent teeth generally take several weeks to fully grow in. The process of losing teeth can be variable, but if your child hasn’t lost his or her front teeth by age eight – go see a dentist.
 
When should I get my wisdom teeth taken out?
If they hurt, right now. If they aren’t causing you any problems, get them checked out around 17 to 18 years old. By then you are at a very happy balance of wisdom tooth development and maximum healing ability, making it a great time to get this procedure done.
 
Some people have wisdom teeth that are all the way in and have plenty of room, and they can keep them clean. Most of the time, however, these teeth do not come into the mouth properly or at all, and this can lead to a lot of potential problems.
 
What is the best way to determine if your wisdom teeth need to come out?
Make a smart decision and see your dentist.
There are many questions about caring for your children as they grow. The take-home message is: Having regular dental checkups is the best way to obtain appropriate treatment at any age.
 
Teach your kids to take care of their teeth and gums and you’ll give them a great head start for a healthy life with a nice smile.

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Daniel E. Lapidus D.D.S., Inc.

Address:
1551 Bishop Street, Suite 430
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(Bishop Medical Center- off Johnson  next to General Hospital)

Phone: (805) 543-7993
Business Hours:
Monday–Thursday:  8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday:  8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Call for Emergencies: 805-543-7993

Serving the Central Coast since 1948