George D. Chen, D.D.S. – Esthetic Reflections in Dentistry

Effects of Stress on Dental Health

We are all-too-familiar with stress – and many of the effects it has on us. Stress can lead to increased anxiety, lack of sleep, muscle pain and more – all of which lead to pains, discomfort, and a lower quality of life. 

Yet what you may not know is that the effects of stress can go even further. They can affect your dental health as well. There is significant research that reveals strong correlations between stress and dental problems, and while dental health is just one of many issues caused by stress, it’s one that’s worth paying attention to as you decide when to schedule your dentist visits.  

Dental Health Issues Related to Stress

The following are only a few of the many dental issues that have been linked to stress:

  • Teeth Grinding – Many people tend to start grinding their teeth when under a lot of stress. The grinding occurs at night, often while a person is a sleep. It’s not entirely clear why people grind as they sleep, but it can have a profound effect on dental health. 
  • Dry Mouth – We need saliva to protect our teeth from decay, gum disease, and other dental issues. However, our mouth becomes very dry when under a lot of stress. In addition, the medications designed for depression and anxiety can also lead to dry mouth. 
  • Gum Disease – Many studies suggest that increased stress levels cause our immune systems to start to weaken. With a weakened immune system, we make ourselves more susceptible to develop diseases such as periodontal disease.
  • TMJ/TMD – Temporomandibular joint disorders have also been linked to stress. Tooth grinding and clenching may contribute to worsening of TMJ.

Some of these issues require dental care. Others require a reduction in stress. Both combined are important for maintaining better dental health. 

Self-Care is Important for Dental Health

We often tell you to brush and floss. But you should also take care of your stress levels. Stress is a known contributor to poor dental health, and while it’s easier to brush your teeth than eliminate stress from your life, it is also important to make sure that you consider stress reduction as part of your dental health strategy. 

 

Morning Dental Appointments vs. Afternoon Dental Appointments

It can be challenging to fit a dentist appointment into a busy schedule. At Esthetic Reflections in Dentistry, we try our best to make sure that morning appointments and afternoon appointments are open, to help fit into our patients’ busy schedules. If you need to schedule an appointment, call us at 916-983-6051.

Some patients have wondered if there is a reason to prefer one time to another. As expected, the answer can vary according to your individual needs. But there are advantages that different appointment times can have, at least in terms of what the research says.

Morning Appointments

Even if you’re not a morning person, a morning appointment may be a smart choice, as studies have shown mornings can be a great time for your health and happiness. With morning dental appointments:

  • Less Chance of Complications – Studies have found there’s a lower chance of complications from anesthesia and other procedures performed during morning appointments.
  • Getting It Out Of the Way – For those who are nervous about going to the dentist, scheduling their appointment for the morning can keep them from being nervous about it all day.
  • Clean Teeth Coming In – You don’t have to brush your teeth before your appointment, but for those who feel more comfortable doing so, you’re less likely to have food stuck between your teeth before lunchtime.

If you do have to have a procedure that may create some aches and pain, a morning procedure may allow some of the pain to go away before you need to sleep. For those with early schedules, a late appointment might mean you head to bed a bit later.

Afternoon Appointments

If you just can’t get up early enough for a morning appointment or if your mornings are just too full already, afternoon appointments are still a good option.

  • Anesthesia – Anesthesia has been found to last longer when administered in the afternoon. Two PM in particular is often recommended as the ideal appointment time for patients who need a procedure involving local anesthesia, like a root canal.
  • Recovery – If you’re receiving a more involved procedure, scheduling your appointment in the afternoon doesn’t require using up a whole day recovering like it might if the procedure were scheduled for the morning. Sleep is when you best heal, and you’ll be sleeping much sooner with this type of appointment.
  • Often More Convenient – Most people get the majority of their work done in the morning and have an easier time leaving work early. If this is the case for you, afternoons are the way to go.

Overall, the best time of day for your dental appointment depends on the treatment you need: how long it will take to complete, how urgent your need for it is, and more.

Esthetic Reflections In Dentistry – Offering Dental Procedures For Any Time Of Day

We do our best to accommodate our patients’ schedules while also providing excellent dental care and can recommend specific appointment times for your needs. If you need a general dentistry or cosmetic service, call 916-983-6051 to make an appointment with us today. We provide everything from cleanings to smile makeovers and more.

Study Suggests Increased Liver Cancer Risk Associated with Poor Oral Hygiene

Over the past few months, the amount of news about the connection between oral health and other forms of physical health have only increased. The latest news has linked poor oral hygiene with an area of the body that most people do not think about when they think of their teeth – the liver.

Researchers in Belfast found that patients that showed signs of poor oral health were also 75% more likely to have liver cancer, and while this research is in its earlier stages, there are reasons to believe its accuracy.

Why Liver Cancer?

Traditionally, liver cancer – in particular, hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form) is associated with liver related diseases including Hep B and Hep C. It is also associated with alcoholism and diabetes as well. But a lot of the cases of liver cancer were previously unknown.

Poor oral hygiene and oral health often means that the teeth are filled with bacteria and germs. Every day, all throughout the day, a person is swallowing those germs through their saliva and food. The liver is one of the organs responsible for eliminating bacteria once it has entered the body. It is possible that this is one of the factors that plays a role.

But it’s still early. We’ll learn over the next few years if poor oral health leads to liver cancer and why. Correlation also doesn’t equal causation, which means there may be another factor that leads to both issues.

Nevertheless, the results of the study are promising when it comes to combatting liver cancer once and for all. New research is needed to see how strong the links are and why. Until then, we do know that taking care of your teeth can prevent against:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Aspiration Pneumonia

If those reasons aren’t enough, perhaps the potential to protect against liver cancer can help motivate you to take care of your teeth even more.

Benefits of Dental Sealants

Prevention plays a big part in dental health. It’s easier, less costly, and results in less pain and overall better wellness to take preventive measures against common dental problems like tooth decay and erosion.

Dental sealants are one of the most frequently used and effective ways of preventing cavities. They are usually applied to the premolars and molars. They’re sometimes seen as necessary only for children, who are more likely to have less thorough oral hygiene routines, but cavities can affect anyone regardless of age.

Made of a composite material, sealants act as a protective barrier for the tooth’s chewing surface. With the grooves on the tooth filled in, it’s much easier to clean the tooth and harder for food particles to get trapped there and cause decay. There are many advantages sealants have for your oral health, including:

  • Durable – Sealants are able to stand up very well to the wear and tear of normal chewing and can last for years before new ones need to be applied.
  • Easy Application – It takes little time to apply sealants and only a few minutes to finish drying.
  • Natural-Looking – Sealants aren’t flashy looking. Thanks to their white or clear coloration, they’re invisible whenever you’re talking, eating, or smiling.
  • Affordable – Sealants are much more affordable than treating cavities. Insurance often covers the cost for patients under 18, and may cover some patients over 18.

Sealants aren’t permanent, and may need to be reapplied as they begin to wear away. However, most people agree that their advantages are far more significant. The initial cost of sealants is far less than the cost of repairing tooth decay and they can last up to 10 years before needing to be reapplied.

If you’re interested in greatly reducing your chance of suffering from tooth decay, contact Esthetic Reflections in Dentistry about sealants and other preventive dental procedures.

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Waterpik vs. Flossing: A Comparison

Flossing is an essential part of everyone’s daily oral hygiene routine, or at least should be. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing at least once a day in order to remove plaque and bits of food from between your teeth that a toothbrush is unable to reach.

However, as many as one-fifth of Americans don’t floss at all, much less as routinely as once a day. There are lots of reasons people skip flossing, such as:

  • Gum or Tooth Sensitivity
  • Braces
  • Difficulty Holding Floss
  • Impatience

If patients have any of these issues, using a Waterpik Water Flosser may be a good compromise. Waterpiks are a type of oral irrigator that shoot a thin, pressurized jet of water between the teeth and along the gum line to accomplish much the same thing regular dental floss does. The water jet also pulsates in order to further clean and strengthen the gum tissue.

Both methods of cleaning between the teeth carry advantages and disadvantages. Standard floss is:

  • Less Expensive
  • Can Be Purchased At Any Grocery or Drug Store
  • Doesn’t Require Access to Water or Electricity

And Waterpiks are:

  • Able to Reach Areas Floss Can’t
  • Easy to Use With Braces, Bridges, and Other Dental Work
  • Proven to Further Reduce Gum Disease and Bleeding

Both methods are significantly better than not flossing at all. They both reduce plaque, gum disease, clean areas toothbrushes aren’t able to, like between the teeth. Ultimately though, traditional dental floss is still considered the superior method of cleaning between the teeth, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The pressurized water jet of the Waterpik can clean away a lot of food particles, and in fact is recommended by some dentists for some patients to be used in conjunction with string flossing and brushing. However it’s not generally an ideal substitute for string flossing, as string flossing is capable of removing far more food and bacteria when performed correctly. Waterpiks should also never be relied on a substitute for brushing.

The main reason string floss wins out over water floss is because of how effective it is at loosening the plaque and food particles that cling to the sides of the teeth. When done properly, the motion of pulling the floss against the side of the tooth and then up and under the gum line is ideal for gently scraping away any particularly stubborn bits. Waterpiks can touch the area, but they do not have the frinction that makes it as effective.

What if I REALLY Hate Flossing?

Flossing becomes more comfortable the more you do it. It also is simply the best way to clean between teeth, and we strongly recommend you floss as it is a critical and effective part of good oral hygiene. But if you refuse to floss, waterpiks can at least provide some of the benefits until you’re ready to start flossing. There are also many other potentially effective alternatives to straight string floss that are capable of providing floss benefits, including:

  • Waxed Floss
  • Dental Tape
  • Floss Picks
  • Interdental Brushes

String flossing is still more effective, but these alternatives can reach some of the harder to hit places.

Still, before making any changes to what your dentist has previously recommended, patients should consult with their dentist. There may be a specific reason these alternate varieties of dental floss haven’t been suggested already, and your dental health may play a role in which choice is best.

 

Why Do Your Teeth Chip?

Your enamel is considered the hardest substance in the body. It is even stronger than bone, and capable of chewing rough foods into mush without so much as a scratch.

Yet teeth chip. It happens to even the best of us. Brushing, flossing, and attending your dental appointments is important, but no matter how much you care for your teeth, it is possible for them to still chip.

Chipped Tooth Risk Factors

There are many situations that may cause your teeth to crack or chip. These include:

  • Trauma – Such as being hit in the teeth with a baseball.
  • Chewing Hard Foods – As strong as teeth are, chewing very hard candies or items can chip them.
  • Tooth Decay – It is possible for your teeth to simply break when not cared for.

But because teeth are so strong, they can often withstand some of these impacts. Hockey players will tell you that even the strongest teeth will chip if they come into contact with a hard surface. But there are risk factors that may also play a role, including:

  • GERD/Acid Reflux – Acids that come up from the stomach to the mouth can weaken the enamel, which makes it softer and more sensitive to hard impacts.
  • Poor Diet – Acidic foods, sugars, and other foods known to break down enamel can weaken your teeth when eaten in high doses.
  • Alcoholism – Alcohol has a known degenerative effect on enamel. Also, vomiting – such as after heavy drinking or a result of an eating disorder – can weaken enamel as well.
  • Previous Filling – As strong as dental fillings are, they are not quite as strong as natural enamel. Teeth with fillings are often most prone to pressure damage.
  • Tooth Grinding – Grinding your teeth at night may be one of the most commonly cited reasons for chipped teeth. Sometimes the grinding itself can chip the tooth.

Finally, poor dental care can weaken the tooth, which is why it is so important to see a dentist before your tooth chips.

What to Do if Your Tooth Chips

If you have a chipped tooth, the symptoms determine your next step. If you are in a lot of pain, you may need an emergency appointment as the tooth may have chipped too far and exposed the root. If you experience no pain, it is likely a bit more of a cosmetic issue, although it helps to have it fixed anyway because chipped teeth may continue to crack over time.

Contact us today to learn more.

So You’ve Chipped a Tooth – Now What?

Teeth are strong. Tooth enamel is the strongest and hardest substance in the body. It is capable of chewing large objects and breaking down even the densest of foods.

But enamel is not unbreakable. Even 100% healthy enamel can chip or crack when it connects with too hard an object, and if your enamel has started to break down because of dental hygiene issues, it may be even more prone to damage.

I Chipped My Tooth Please Help

At some point, you may find that you have chipped a tooth. In this case, a chipped tooth is defined as a tooth where a small piece appears to have broken off.

Luckily, this is something that happens quite often, in fact. As many as 30% of adults over 40 have at least one chipped tooth, and many younger patients chip their teeth as a result of candy, sports, ice chewing, or accidentally bumping into something hard.

Because it is common, there are many potential dental treatments available to help you with your chipped tooth. At your appointment with Esthetic Reflections in Dentistry in Folsom, our dentists will examine the tooth or teeth thoroughly, and recommend the right treatment. Call us at 916-983-6051 to schedule your appointment.

If you are experiencing any pain from a recently chipped tooth, let us know as this may be a dental emergency.

Some of the potential treatments include:

  • Dental Fillings – Dental fillings for chipped teeth are not unlike other dental fillings. If there is only a tiny chip and it is not visible, a filling may be all that is needed to seal the missing piece.
  • Dental Bonding – If the chip is just as small but more visible, such as a front tooth, a filling may not be the right option. Instead, dental bonding may be a better choice. Bonding involves placing a tooth colored resin at the site of the missing tooth, and then hardening it with a bright light so that missing area is filled.
  • Dental Crowns – Larger chips may require something more. In some cases, you may be a candidate for a dental crown. Dental crowns are large, strong dental caps that are placed on top of the tooth to be a perfect fit. The new crown is also designed to look like a natural tooth, and are crafted specifically for your mouth. Usually, crowns require too separate visits, but Esthetic Reflections in Dentistry has the CEREC system which allows for same-day crowns.
  • Porcelain Veneers – Finally, another option is using dental veneers. For most patients, dental veneers are more of an esthetic choice. They completely cover the front of the tooth so that it appears completely healthy to the naked eye. It is better to have veneers across your entire front teeth, however, rather than placing it in front of only one chipped tooth. That is why most people only choose veneers when they have been looking for cosmetic updates to their smile.

If the chip is large enough that the pulp of the tooth is exposed, this may require a root canal to remove the pulp, stop pain, and then seal the tooth so that there is no more discomfort.

Contact Esthetic Reflections in Dentistry Today

Chipping a tooth is almost always a complete surprise. Luckily, there are a wide range of treatments available depending on both the extent of the chip and your cosmetic goals.

If you chipped a tooth, let us know today at 916-983-6051. We make all these treatments available to our patients, serving those in Folsom, El Dorado Hills, Sacramento, Granite Bay, Orangevale, and more.

 

How to Tell When Bleeding Gums Are A Problem

We know that it can be hard to floss regularly. There may even be days when you simply don’t have the time or energy to brush. We live busy lives, and it is because of those busy lives that many people simply do not care for their teeth the way that they should.

But without regular dental visits and great dental hygiene, your teeth and gums can suffer, and one of the first signs that this suffering may be occurring is the presence of blood in your teeth, particularly after brushing and flossing.

Why Do Gums Bleed?

When you are unable to care for your teeth, you may develop plaque. Bacteria and germs within the plaque then start to attack the gums, causing irritation and inflammation. Then, when brushing and flossing, these sensitive gums may begin to bleed. It is often, although not always, a painless condition, but you’ll notice the bleeding when you spit, look in the mirror, or check your toothbrush/floss.

Usually the bleeding stops right away.

When Are Bleeding Gums a Problem?

Bleeding gums themselves are not usually dangerous. But they are nearly always a sign of gum disease. At its early stages, called “gingivitis,” your gums are bleeding to warn you that you are not caring well enough for your teeth and may benefit from dental care. The more it progresses, the more it is an indicator of gum recession, tooth loss, and other more serious difficulties.

If you notice even a small amount of blood in between any of your teeth, immediate dental care is your best option. Call Esthetic Reflections today to learn more.

Sedation Dentistry in Sacramento County

Dental anxiety is extremely common. Although we make every effort to help create a fun, relaxing, pain free experience, we have seen how some of our patients come in feeling tense and overwhelmed, as though they are about to experience something upsetting.

We’ll explore the causes of dental anxiety in a future blog topic, but we wanted to let you know about what’s known as “sedation dentistry.” Sedation dentistry utilizes safe, medicinal sedation to make the experience of seeing the dentist far more pleasurable. With sedation dentistry, you are awake and conscious throughout the entire procedure, but you are in such a relaxed state that you wake up feeling rested as though nothing occurred at all.

And because Dr. Chen and Dr. Skelton are both highly trained dentists, there is unlikely to be any pain or discomfort once the sedation wears off. Come to the dentist, get treated, and leave with a happier smile all without any anxiety or discomfort. Perfect for all types of procedures – including cosmetic dentistry.

We know you may have questions and we have answers. Contact Esthetic Reflections today for more information, or to inquire about scheduling our sedation dentistry in Sacramento County.

It’s Easy to Address Bad Breath

No one wants to talk about their bad breath struggles. Indeed, those with bad breath sometimes prefer not to talk at all. But while struggling with bad breath can be stressful, the truth is that most causes can be easy to treat by scheduling an appointment with Esthetic Reflections in Dentistry.

The first step to eliminating bad breath is to try to determine the cause. There are many different dental and related issues that may contribute to bad breath, including:

  • Tonsil stones
  • Tooth decay
  • Acid reflux
  • Oral bacteria
  • Dry mouth, and more

Almost all of these can be addressed in a dental office, and those that cannot may benefit from a dental treatment before combining it with a different medical approach. For example, your primary care physician may have a way to treat your GERD, but Dr. Chen and Dr. Skelton can ensure that any tooth damage or bacteria has been eliminated so that the bad breath treatment is more effective.

Eliminate Bad Breath for a Truly Happy Smile

Esthetic Reflections in Dentistry is here to make your smile brighter. But we also want you to genuinely smile more. With many bad breath treatments available, we hope that you will consider giving us a call today at 916-983-6051 and let us see what the challenge may be so that you do not feel like hiding your mouth anymore.

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