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7 Common Dental Habits That Can Damage Your Smile

Do you have any of these habits? If so, you could be harming your teeth. Find out what they are and how to avoid them for a happy, healthy smile

Caring for your smile doesn’t just happen in the bathroom or at your San Diego dentist’s office. 

 

When it comes to dental health, a little mindfulness in our day-to-day lives goes a long way.

 

By adding a thing or two to your daily routine and removing some other common habits, you can help strengthen and shield your teeth from harm.

 

Below is a list of things that many of us do — often without even thinking about it — that can harm our mouths.

 

If you notice any that apply to you, don’t worry! We’ve included an idea or two under each item to help you break the habit. 

 

But be sure to look through the list carefully. You might find something you didn’t know was harmful!

 

1. Using Your Teeth as Nail Clippers

Of all the items on this list, nail-biting has to be the most common dental health-damaging habit. 

 

It’s so popular that there’s even a scientific term for it: Onychophagia…

 

And according to research by the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, anywhere from 20 to 30% of Americans compulsively bite their nails.

 

This habit is a big promoter of local infections around the nails, and putting the dirt and bacteria from under your nails into your mouth also leaves you with a greater risk of developing illnesses more often.

 

But how does biting your nails affect your dental health?

 

Well, first, your teeth simply aren’t made for chewing on hard objects like fingernails. Your enamel, the protective outer layer of your teeth, is meant solely for natural foods. 

 

When you chew on your nails, especially frequently over a long period of time, you wear down your enamel and leave yourself vulnerable to chips, breaks, and even tooth decay.

 

Not only that, but the position you put your mouth in can affect the alignment of your jaw.

 

Usually, when you chew your nails, either your lower or upper jaw is extended outward. 

 

Combined with the force you put into biting down, this uneven position can lead to misalignment, clicking and popping when opening your mouth, and even jaw pain — also known as TMD.

 

How to Break the Habit

Since nail biting is often used as an outlet for stress, there are a few different ways to approach breaking the habit.

 

One of the most effective options is to apply a clear coat or some other kind of nail polish. Then, whenever you put your fingers in your mouth, the bad taste will deter you from biting down.

 

Another route you can take is to keep your hands busy in situations you know will stress you out. Try fidgeting with a pen, fidget cube, or other handheld items instead.

 

Finally, you can attack the problem at the source with relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, daily walks, or other mindfulness exercises.

 

2. Chewing on Ice

In line with number one’s theme of chewing on hard substances, our second habit is eating ice cubes. 

 

We know, we know…

 

The crunching sensation is super satisfying, and the ice feels so cool and refreshing!

 

But perhaps even more so than biting your nails, chewing on solid ice cubes is incredibly damaging to your enamel, and the sooner you stop, the better.

 

How to Break the Habit

The best way to kick this habit is to remove the temptation altogether. If you can help it, avoid using ice at all. Opt for beverages that are already cold, and order your drinks without ice when you go out to eat. 

 

3. Using Your Teeth to Open or Break Things

This habit can be tough to break because it feels so natural to use your teeth when your hands just aren’t cutting it.

 

One second, you’re trying to open a plastic package that just won’t budge, and the next thing you know, you’re tearing through it with your teeth.

 

Sound familiar? You’re certainly not alone.

 

But this habit poses the same risks for your dental health as biting your nails. Unfortunately, all the things that require a little oomph to rip, tear, and open are much too hard for our teeth to handle.

 

Not to mention, we’re putting our jaw in the same risky position that can cause alignment issues.

 

How to Break the Habit

If you’re having trouble with something, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

 

Also, try to keep a pair of scissors handy wherever you typically need them (i.e., the kitchen, your home office, etc.).

 

Your smile is worth the extra few seconds it will take to find help or grab your scissors.

 

4. Holding Objects With Your Teeth

How often do you find yourself holding pens, pencils, straws, toothpicks, or other objects between your teeth? 

 

If the answer is regularly, then it might be time to switch things up.

 

Solid objects like these, even if you hold them gently in your mouth, still bump and grind up against your teeth…

 

And over time — especially if you have a habit of chewing on them — they can wear down your enamel.

 

How to Break the Habit

If you like to hold things like pens or straws in your mouth, try switching to some sugar-free gum.

 

Not only is it much softer on your teeth, but there’s also evidence that chewing gum sweetened with xylitol can actually help keep your teeth clean.

 

5. Not Drinking Enough Water

Water is the best drink for your smile, hands down. But drinking as much as we should is much easier said than done.

 

If you notice you tend to drink more coffee, soda, tea, or energy drinks than water throughout the day, your teeth could be more prone to staining and decay. 

 

All the beverages listed above are typically very acidic, and without enough water to balance things out, they can eat through your enamel.

 

How to Break the Habit

If your water consumption isn’t where it should be, try setting small goals. If you notice you drink four glasses of water every day, try adding one extra glass a day for the next week. Then, you can bump it up to two extra after that, and so on.

 

6. Nighttime or Stress-Related Grinding

Similar to nail-biting, teeth grinding is a typical stress response. It’s also an issue for many people while they sleep.

 

Constant clenching is just another item on this list that can cause chips, breaks, and jaw dysfunction if left unchecked.

 

How to Break the Habit

For daytime clenchers, try to make some time for mindfulness exercises and stress-relieving activities in your daily routine.

 

If you struggle with grinding at night, talk to your San Diego dentist about a nightguard. It’ll relieve a lot of the tension and allow you to get more restful sleep.

 

7. Constant Snacking

We can all relate to this habit on one level or another. 

 

Whether we work from home and the snacks are always within reach, or we like to chow down while watching our favorite shows, constant snacking can be a little too easy when we’re at home.

 

But the more your teeth come in contact with carbohydrate-rich, sugary foods, the more susceptible they are to tooth decay and cavities.

 

How to Break the Habit

To keep your snacking in check, try eating balanced meals with plenty of protein to keep you fuller for longer. And when you do reach for a snack, aim for one with as little added sugar as possible.

 

Oh, and don’t forget to wash it down with a glass of water!

 

The Best Habits for Your Smile

Of course, nothing beats daily brushing and flossing and regular checkups at your local San Diego dentist.

 

If you need any help kicking some bad dental habits, don’t be afraid to give us a call here at Dental Express. We’re always happy to hand out helpful advice. 

 

And if you need some quality dental care, we’re a family favorite in the area, and we tailor our services to each patient’s comfort level and budget.

 

Either way, we wish you and your smile the best on your journey to better oral health!

 

Keep Reading

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11 Tips & Tricks for Limiting Your Halloween Candy Consumption

With these helpful craving-fighting tips, there’s no reason to be scared of Halloween candy this year!

Halloween is the time of year where you can find candy pretty much anywhere.

 

It’s at work, it’s at your friends’ and families’ homes, there are multiple sections devoted to it in every grocery store…

 

The list goes on.

 

And as if reaching for a bite (or seven) isn’t hard enough to resist when you’re out and about, the real test begins when it’s time to stock up at home.

 

Making sure your little one gets to enjoy the candy they love is one of the best parts about Halloween, but when we have it around the house, it’s much easier for our sugar cravings to get the best of us.

 

If you have trouble staying away from the Halloween candy bowl, keep reading. We put this list of tips and tricks together to help you manage your cravings and preserve your dental health this spooky season.

 

1. Maintain a Healthy Eating Schedule

First and foremost, it’s crucial to keep up a regular eating schedule to keep your cravings at bay. 

 

When you skip meals and snack frequently throughout the day, you’re leaving yourself open to potential food binges because you’re not getting the nutrition your body needs.

 

Eating regularly looks different for everybody, but especially during the holiday season, make sure you’re having balanced meals with plenty of protein throughout the day.

 

The fewer empty calories you take in, the better.

 

With a solid foundation of healthy nutrition, you’ll have a head-start in the fight against your Halloween candy cravings!

 

2. Stay Hydrated

When we’re thirsty, we can sometimes mistake our desire for water for food cravings. 

 

Not to mention, although it gets absorbed much quicker into our bodies than food, water still takes up space in our stomachs. 

 

So, whenever you get a hankering for Halloween candy, try drinking a tall glass of water first and give your body five to ten minutes to sort things out.

 

You might find that you were just thirsty all along!

 

3. Buy as Close to Halloween as You Can

If you’re no stranger to Halloween candy cravings, then you know that the longer you’re exposed to temptation, the harder it is to resist.

 

But luckily, you can control that exposure.

 

Try waiting to stock up until you absolutely need to this year. If the bulk of your candy goes to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters, why subject yourself to the temptation weeks in advance?

 

Giving yourself that extra breathing room will certainly help you manage your cravings this Halloween.

 

4. If Possible, Avoid Candy You Like

This tip may not always apply, but if it does, you could save yourself a whole lot of trouble.

 

If you and your little ones have different tastes in candy, that’s the perfect opportunity to avoid temptation altogether.

 

When you go to the store, you can pick up their favorites and leave yours on the shelf, so you don’t have to worry about fighting cravings every time you walk past the candy bowl or open the pantry.

 

5. Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand

The kids may be chowing down on Halloween candy for the next couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean you have to.

 

Building up a supply of healthy snacks in your kitchen is one of the best ways to defend against cravings.

 

Having other more filling foods to reach for, like fruit, nuts, cheese, etc., can help you defeat or at the very least put off those indulgent moments.

 

This tip can come in especially handy at work. 

 

If you know you’ll be passing by the dreaded candy bowl throughout the day, preemptively attacking your cravings with a banana, some cashews, or whatever healthy snacks you enjoy can keep you satisfied and less likely to reach for any Halloween goodies.

 

6. Keep Your Halloween Candy in the Pantry

You know what they say: “Out of sight, out of mind.”

 

If Halloween is still around the corner, there’s no rule saying you have to have a bowl of candy out. Feel free to hide the candy in the deepest, darkest corner of your pantry until you need it.

 

You can still decorate the house for the holiday without the added stress of trying to avoid those delicious Reese’s pumpkins.

 

7. Sugar-Free Gum Can Help

When it comes to keeping those Halloween candy cravings at bay, don’t underestimate the power of gum.

 

As we’ve covered on our blog before, chewing sugar-free gum can not only fool your body into thinking that you’re eating, but the artificial sweeteners that it contains can give you that “sugar rush” you’re looking for.

 

So, the next time you feel those cravings coming on, grab a piece of gum instead!

 

8. Treat Yourself a Little

Sometimes all it takes to stave off cravings is to give into them a little bit. 

 

Although it may not be the case for everybody, treating yourself regularly can be a big help during the spooky season.

 

If you trust yourself to dip your toe in without overindulging, leave a piece or two of candy out for yourself every now and then.

 

Of course, how often you do it is up to you. It could be once a week, once every couple of days, or even once a day! 

 

Give it a shot and adjust the frequency based on how better or worse your cravings get. It might just be the solution you’re looking for!

 

9. Keep Track of How Much You Eat

If your cravings do get the best of you, it can be easy to throw all caution to the wind…

 

But there’s still a strategy that can help you minimize your intake.

 

Whenever you find yourself overindulging, don’t wrinkle up the wrappers and throw them away. Keep them out where you can see them so you can count how many pieces of candy you’ve had so far.

 

Seeing a visual representation of how much you’ve eaten can discourage you from continuing, helping put an end to any unwanted binges.

 

10. After Halloween, Remove the Temptation

After the spooky season is over, don’t be afraid to clean house. 

 

As long as your little ones have all the candy they need, you can always get rid of the temptation entirely by giving your Halloween candy away to friends, family, or neighbors.

 

11. If You Do Give in, Don’t Beat Yourself Up

This tip is one of the most important items on our list today. It’s natural to get down on yourself when you give in to your cravings…

 

But be careful not to beat yourself up. It’ll only make things worse.

 

Every day is a new chance to start again and take control of your cravings. So, if you have a bad night, take some time to regroup and start the next day with a clean slate. 

 

Bonus Tip: Stick to Your Daily Dental Care Routine

Whether you manage to reign in your cravings or not (we believe in you!), maintaining your oral hygiene regimen is critical to fighting off tooth decay and cavities.

 

We expose our teeth to a lot more sugar during the holidays, and daily brushing and flossing combined with regular trips to your San Diego dentist are the best way to counteract it.

 

Dental Express is San Diego’s favorite family dentist, and we’re here to keep you smiling throughout this holiday season. 

 

If you have any questions about dental health during the happiest time of the year, feel free to contact us at your closest location… 

 

And if it’s been a while since your last checkup, we’d love to serve your smile!

 

Keep Reading

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October 2021 Marks National Dental Hygiene Month

It’s October, which means it’s time to celebrate our dental care professionals and promote healthy oral habits for National Dental Hygiene Month!

Every year, October is recognized as National Dental Hygiene Month.

 

It’s a time where people everywhere can show their appreciation for the dental providers that watch over their smiles.

 

It’s also an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about oral habits that can help make your teeth stronger, your gums healthier, and your mouth cleaner.

 

That’s what dental hygiene is all about, after all. And what better time to observe this occasion than right before the holiday season?

 

So, follow along as we go over the golden rules of oral care that everyone should know, and salute our dental heroes for all their hard work!

 

The Golden Rules of Dental Hygiene

There are a lot of nuances when it comes to dental hygiene.

 

Everything that happens in your mouth — from the foods you eat to the way you floss and even to the gum you chew — affects your teeth and gums…

 

And these consequences, whether good or bad, are super important. 

 

See, your oral health doesn’t only affect the way you bite down, chew your food, and speak. It also has an impact on your overall health.

 

In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) states that “the mouth is a window into the health of the body…”

 

Meaning that your mouth may show signs of illness (i.e., infections, nutrient deficiencies) that reflect what’s going on in the rest of your body.

 

So, essentially, how you care for your smile is how you care for your body. And to help commemorate National Dental Hygiene Month this year, we compiled a list of must-know tips and tools for you to add to your oral care arsenal.

 

Without further ado, behold the golden rules of dental hygiene!

 

1. Do Your Daily Brushing

Of course, coming in at number one is the most important aspect of at-home dental care: brushing your teeth!

 

Daily brushing is arguably the most powerful weapon we have to fight against tooth decay and gum disease.

 

It not only helps clear out the oral bacteria and plaque that causes cavities, but it can also strengthen your enamel.

 

Just make sure that when you go shopping for toothpaste, you pick one that contains fluoride. Without this essential ingredient, your teeth are much more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities.

 

If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between fluoridated toothpaste and the reduced risk of decay, check out our article on fluoride here.

 

Now, a couple more essential tips for brushing. The ADA recommends brushing your teeth two times a day for two to three minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

 

This is because going for two minutes significantly increases the amount of plaque you remove from the surface of your teeth, and the soft-bristled brush gets the job done without damaging your enamel, like medium and hard-bristled brushes would.

 

So, are you following these brushing guidelines? If not, National Dental Hygiene Month is the perfect time to start!

 

2. Don’t Forget to Floss

Taking its rightful place next to rule number one is brushing’s right-hand man: flossing!

 

If this critical dental hygiene habit is missing from your routine, your teeth are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.

 

That’s because harmful oral bacteria and plaque like to hang out just beneath your gum line — a place where toothbrushes simply can’t reach.

 

Flossing allows you to clean out those nooks and crannies for a healthier, stronger smile.

 

So, make sure you get your daily flossing session in. And if traditional floss gives you too much trouble, don’t worry. There are several other convenient ways to clean between your teeth.

 

3. Schedule Routine Cleanings and Checkups at Your San Diego Dentist

The best way to prevent and manage dental issues is to keep up with regular cleanings and exams at your local dentist.

 

Factors like your age, current oral health status, and other relevant health conditions may require you to make more frequent appointments…

 

But the standard for adults is one dental exam and two cleanings per year. When was your last dentist appointment?

 

If you don’t know or can’t remember, it might be time to contact your dental provider.

 

4. For Extra Cavity and Gingivitis-Fighting Power, Add Mouthwash to Your Routine

Sometimes, a little help can go a long way. 

 

Many people use mouthwash to fight bad breath, and for good reason. But if you buy the right kind, you can also help reduce the amount of plaque in your mouth.

 

Formulas that contain peroxide, essential oils, fluoride, and cetylpyridinium chloride (a breath-freshening antiseptic) are known for their ability to fight gum disease. So, next time you’re in the dental care aisle, keep an eye out for those ingredients!

 

Rinsing with therapeutic mouthwashes like these after every toothbrushing session can help provide an extra line of protection for your smile.

 

5. Replace Your Toothbrush Once Every Three to Four Months

National Dental Hygiene Month is the perfect time to check if your toothbrushes need replacing. 

 

Has it been a few months since you bought a new one? Do the bristles look frayed and worn down? Then it might be time to make a trip to the store.

 

The ADA recommends getting a new toothbrush (or replacing the head if you have an electric model) every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles wear out too quickly.

 

That’s because the more worn out your brush is, the less effective it is at cleaning your teeth.

 

If you have trouble remembering how long it’s been since you bought your last toothbrush, try writing the purchase date on the handle in sharpie. Or, you could write it in erasable marker on your bathroom mirror.

 

6. If You Chew Gum, Go Sugar-Free

Thanks to all the sucrose and other sweeteners they contain, sugary gum is a one-way ticket to dental plaque.

 

When you think about it, you’re essentially lathering your teeth with sugar for who knows how long. 

 

But with sugar-free gum, you can rest easy. It contains artificial sweeteners like xylitol, aspartame, stevia, and others to deliver the sweetness you enjoy without the risk. 

 

And don’t worry.

 

Sugar-free gum is just as sweet, and gum sweetened with xylitol can even improve your dental health!

 

7. Drink Lots of Water

In our daily lives, it’s easy to get caught up drinking juice, coffee, tea… really anything other than water. 

 

But getting your daily dose of H2O is an excellent way to strengthen your smile. 

 

Water has been shown to balance out the pH levels in your mouth, counteracting the acidity from drinks like coffee, alcohol, orange juice, etc., and protecting your teeth from acid erosion. Not to mention, drinking plenty of water can help prevent dry mouth.

 

If you struggle to drink enough water throughout the day, here’s a quick tip to support a healthy smile:

 

For every non-water beverage you drink, have a glass of water with it.

 

Not only will this help you stay hydrated, but it’ll also offset the adverse dental health effects from the other beverages you drink (i.e., acid erosion, tooth decay, etc.).

 

8. Make Healthy Food Choices

Last but certainly not least is your nutrition. The foods you eat have an enormous impact on your smile.

 

For example, a diet heavy in sugary foods and drinks like candy, sodas, juices, and more can weaken your teeth and lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. 

 

We all need our treats and indulgences, but when they take over our diets, that’s when things can go wrong for both our oral and overall health.

 

That’s why it’s crucial to aim for a balanced diet with an even assortment of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, dairy products, and whole grains.

 

So, this National Dental Hygiene Month, take some time to check in on your nutrition habits and see if there’s any room for improvement. 

 

You’ll be glad you did!

 

Celebrating Our Irreplaceable Team of Dental Hygienists

In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month, we want to take this opportunity to thank our dental hygienists here at Dental Express, and those all across the country.

 

Your tireless work helps keep us all smiling, and even through a worldwide pandemic, you’ve still served your communities with bravery and compassion.

 

You’ve seen us through unprecedented times, and your dedication to the health and wellbeing of your patients is truly admirable.

 

So, from all of us here at Dental Express, we offer our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation!

 

Keep Reading

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9 Key Tips to Floss Like a Dental Professional

Flossing all willy-nilly can get you and your teeth in trouble. Follow these 9 essential tips, and you’ll be flossing like a dentist in no time!

Daily flossing is one of the pillars of dental health. 

 

An oral care routine without it is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly.

 

But while some flossing is better than none, it’s important to have the proper technique to ensure you’re getting the job done right.

 

If not, you could leave plaque and harmful bacteria between your teeth, which are the primary causes of gum disease, aka gingivitis.

 

To help you avoid issues like these, we built this list of nine essential tips that will teach you how to floss like a pro.

 

If you’re already a diligent flosser, go through them and see how many you know. You might find one you’ve never heard of before!

 

1. Don’t Force it

Sometimes it can be tough to get in between certain teeth. 

 

Usually, the back molars take a little extra oomph to get through, but if your teeth are overcrowded or naturally have small gaps, the front teeth can be challenging too.

 

No matter which ones give you trouble, whatever you do, don’t force it! Popping the floss through with brute force can spell bad news for your gums. 

 

Not only can the excessive force cause your gums to bleed, but it can also lead to gum recession.

 

When your gums are subjected to too much pressure over time, the body responds by gradually pulling them back, which reveals more of your teeth. Eventually, this constant pressure can expose the roots of your teeth, causing tooth sensitivity.

 

So, if you encounter resistance when flossing, try pulling the floss back and forth while applying steady but controlled pressure towards the bottom of your tooth.

 

Your gums will thank you!

 

2. Leave No Side Unflossed

The main purpose behind flossing is to remove bacteria, plaque, and food debris from in between teeth and beneath the gum line.

 

The reason it’s such a powerful dental care tool is because floss reaches where your toothbrush can’t.

 

But depending on your technique, that may not be the case.

 

If you only slide the floss up and down once before moving on to the next one, chances are you’re neglecting a good portion of your teeth.

 

When you’re in between two teeth, it’s essential to apply sideways pressure against one tooth while gently sliding the floss beneath the gum line, and then repeat the same motion against the other tooth.

 

That way, you can cover both sides of each tooth, clearing out any plaque that’s hiding out of sight.

 

3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Flossing faster doesn’t necessarily mean better — as with most things that require hand-eye coordination.

 

In fact, it often means the opposite.

 

Going too fast can lead to the complications from tip number one as well as the lack of proper technique that we discussed in tip two.

 

So, don’t rush it. The more precise you can be with your movements, the cleaner your teeth will be!

 

4. If You See Red, Don’t Throw in the Towel

If you have mild to severe gingivitis (or you’re brand new to flossing), it’s not uncommon for your gums to bleed during a floss session.

 

Unfortunately, the sight of blood can often spook people into quitting. And understandably so.

 

But although your gums may be sensitive to flossing, the harmful bacteria hiding behind your gums still needs to be removed — especially if you’re struggling with gum disease.

 

After all, that bacteria is what leads to plaque, which is the main cause of gum disease.

 

So, if you notice your gums bleed when you floss, the first thing you should do is contact your San Diego dentist. Then, make sure to floss with care. And most importantly, don’t give up!

 

5. Switch (or Clean) it Up 

When you floss, the string picks up food particles and oral bacteria from between your teeth.

 

But if you keep using the same section of floss, you’re essentially just spreading plaque around from one part of your mouth to the other.

 

To avoid letting all your hard teeth-cleaning work go to waste, make sure to move to a new part of the string after each tooth. Or, if you’re using pre-threaded floss or an interdental brush, give them a rinse in between each one.

 

6. If Traditional Floss is Too Difficult, Explore Other Options

Let’s be honest. Regular floss can be a pain.

 

Having to wrap each end around your finger and adjust to a different section of string for every tooth can be a lot of work, especially for young children or those with mobility issues.

 

Luckily, however, there are plenty of alternatives that can get the job done just as well.

 

Tools like pre-threaded flossers, interdental brushes, and water flossers are well-known for their ease of use and reliability when it comes to cleaning in between teeth.

 

In fact, research suggests that water flossers are twice as effective as traditional floss.

 

So, if you’re searching for another option, give one or all of the above interdental cleaners a try to see which works best for you and your smile.

 

7. Don’t Forget to Floss Behind Your Back Molars

Yes, there aren’t any teeth behind them to floss between, but that doesn’t mean bacteria and plaque don’t like to hang out back there!

 

In addition to cleaning the backs of your rear molars when brushing, make sure to give them some love when flossing too.

 

It’ll only add a few extra seconds to your flossing routine, and the extra attention definitely couldn’t hurt!

 

8. Find a Routine and Stick to It

If you don’t already have one, developing a flossing routine can help you hit every tooth consistently. 

 

Whether you like to start from the bottom, top, left, or right side of your mouth, having a pattern to stick to can make sure you get the most out of each flossing session.

 

9. Don’t Neglect Your Restorations

Whatever kind of restoration you have — whether it’s a crown, implant, removable bridge, or denture — don’t forget to floss in between or around them.

 

These surfaces are just as vulnerable to oral bacteria as your natural teeth and need the same level of attention to prevent dental health issues.

 

When you get restorations, they become part of your smile, and they should be cared for as such!

 

Still Have Questions? Give Us a Ring

The moral of the story here is that flossing does what brushing can’t, and with these helpful tips, you have the tools to maximize your teeth cleaning potential at home.

 

But if you have any additional questions or you’re looking for affordable dental care in San Diego, give us a call at Dental Express. You can also set up an appointment online or visit us for a walk-in if that works best for you.

 

Family-friendly care at a reasonable price is what we do, and we’re always happy to help however we can!

 

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How Diabetes Affects Your Smile (And What to Do About it)

Diabetes can affect every part of your body, including your dental health. Find out how and learn 5 preventive measures to safeguard your smile

Diabetes is a widespread condition in the United States, affecting 34.2 million Americans — around 10% of the population.

 

In 2018, statistics showed that there were at least 1.5 million new cases.

 

But while many people know that it can adversely affect the kidneys, nerves, eyes, and heart, this condition has a lesser-known impact on the body.

 

Diabetes can damage your smile in several different ways, and it often does…

 

But!

 

It wouldn’t be a Dental Express article if we didn’t give you some dentist-approved tips to preserve your dental health.

 

So, follow along as we go over what diabetes is, how it can harm your mouth, and the best ways to fight back.

 

What is Diabetes?

First off, it’s important to note that there are two main types of diabetes: Type I and Type II.

 

Both involve issues with insulin, an essential hormone produced by the pancreas that helps cells absorb sugar from the bloodstream.

 

Here’s how it works…

 

Whenever you eat food, your body breaks most of it down into sugars. Those sugars then enter your bloodstream, which your pancreas sees as a signal to start producing insulin.

 

The insulin essentially escorts the sugars out of the bloodstream and into the cells that need them, providing energy for your body. 

 

But when you have diabetes, this process is disrupted. 

 

In those who have diabetes, insulin is either not available, or their body can’t make proper use of it, which leaves all that blood sugar hanging around in their bloodstream. 

 

And when high levels of blood sugar sit in the bloodstream for too long, it can lead to serious health issues, which we’ll cover in a moment.

 

Type I Diabetes

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the difference between the two types, starting with Type I.

 

Type I diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body prevents itself from producing insulin. To manage their blood sugar levels, Type I diabetics have to inject insulin every day. If not, the consequences can be life-threatening.

 

Out of the 34.2 million people with diabetes, anywhere from 5-10% of them have Type I. Children, teenagers, and young adults usually develop this condition before adulthood.

 

Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes occurs when high blood sugar levels are a constant issue. Trying to keep up, the pancreas creates more and more insulin to balance things out. 

 

Eventually, in response to the cranked-up insulin levels, cells simply don’t respond to it as well anymore. This process is called insulin resistance, which is the precursor to Type II diabetes.

 

Around 90-95% of people with diabetes struggle with Type II.

 

There are medications to treat it, but a healthy diet and regular exercise are the best natural cures.

 

How Does Diabetes Affect My Dental Health?

If you or a loved one has diabetes, you’re no stranger to the health risks that come with it. Heart disease, cardiovascular disease, circulatory issues, kidney disease, and vision loss are just a few.

 

But when it comes to your dental health, there are several other factors to be aware of. 

 

We borrowed a list of potential symptoms from the American Dental Association, so you know what to look out for. Check them out below: 

  • You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry – Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re also at a higher risk of cavities (Dry mouth is also caused by certain medications).
  • Gums may become inflamed and bleed often (gingivitis) – When you have diabetes, your body loses some of its ability to fight harmful bacteria.
  • You may have problems tasting food.
  • You may experience delayed wound healing.
  • You may be susceptible to infections inside of your mouth – for example: thrush
  • For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.

 

If any of these sound familiar to you, or you’re experiencing one or more of them, see your San Diego dentist right away.

 

But even if you’re not showing any signs of these issues, make sure your dental care provider knows you have diabetes. 

 

That knowledge can inform their decisions on how to monitor your dental health, which can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

 

The more your dentist knows about your health, the better they can care for your smile.

 

If I Have Diabetes, Am I More Prone to Periodontitis?

Unfortunately, yes. 

 

As the above list suggests, people with diabetes are far more vulnerable to infections, including oral health conditions like thrush, gum disease, and gum disease’s big brother: periodontitis.

 

Due to the high sugar content in the bloodstream, diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken, reducing the flow of blood to the gums, teeth, and jawbone. 

 

As a result, the body can’t supply oxygen and nutrients or remove waste from those areas as effectively.

 

Without the vital resources they need, the oral tissues begin to weaken, leaving them more open to decay.

 

But the relationship between diabetes and periodontitis doesn’t end there. In fact, it may even create a vicious cycle…

 

According to the American Academy of Periodontology:

 

“Research has suggested that the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.

 

Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts people with diabetes at increased risk for diabetic complications.”

 

This increased risk is why it’s so crucial to talk with your dental provider as soon as possible. 

 

Diabetes is an unforgiving condition that can affect the entire body. But if you and your San Diego dentist work together, you can give your smile the care and attention it needs to stay healthy.

 

How to Protect Your Smile

Now that we know how diabetes can impact your dental health, let’s open the preventive toolbox and see what you can do to keep your smile safe.

 

In their profound dental wisdom, the ADA provides us with some helpful guidelines to ward off the adverse effects of this harmful condition. 

 

Tip #1 – Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels

Since diabetes directly affects blood sugar levels, the first and most important step is doing your best to manage them.

 

This includes following your doctor’s recommendations, taking any medications as directed, and, if necessary, making lifestyle changes to promote blood sugar control (i.e., healthy nutrition, exercise, etc.).

 

The more balanced your blood glucose levels are, the less likely you are to suffer from dental health symptoms like thrush, dry mouth, and gum disease.

 

Tip #2 – Stay Away From Tobacco

Plain and simple. 

 

Tobacco use is the biggest risk factor for oral cancer, and it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease as well.

 

Combined with the increased risk of infection that comes with diabetes, the potential consequences are no joke.

 

So, whatever you do, steer clear of tobacco.

 

Tip #3 – If You Have Dentures, Clean Them Every Day

Whether you have a removable partial bridge, partial denture, or a full set, be meticulous about cleaning them daily.

 

The cleaner your smile, the healthier your mouth will be.

 

Tip #4 – Be Consistent With Your At-Home Oral Hygiene

Brush two times a day and floss once to clear out any food and harmful oral bacteria. Your dental health depends on it!

 

Tip #5 – Visit Your San Diego Dentist for Routine Cleanings & Checkups

Especially when diabetes is a part of the equation, seeing your San Diego dentist is one of the best things you can do for your smile.

 

If you or a loved one is struggling with this condition, Dental Express is here for you.

 

We work together with each of our patients to develop a plan that takes their wants, needs, and budget into account, and every one of our decisions reflects that.

 

If you have any questions about dental health and diabetes, or you’d like to schedule your first appointment, contact us at the location nearest to you

 

Let’s build your ideal smile together!

 

Keep Reading

7 Times You’ll Need Emergency Dental Care

How to Easily Identify & Prevent Oral Cancer

How Your Dental Health Affects Your Overall Health

How to Win the Fight Against Sugar Cravings

The #1 Dental Health-Improving Beverage

This one drink can work wonders for your teeth and gums, and the best part is: it’s easy to find!

Maintaining your dental health is a lot more like a marathon than a sprint. 

 

It takes daily brushing, flossing, regular visits to your San Diego dentist, and healthy attention to nutrition to care for your smile…

 

And when you drill down into the nutrition side of things, arguably one of the most critical factors that can make or break your oral health is what you drink.

 

With all the sports drinks, energy drinks, sodas, coffee, and other similar beverages out there, your teeth are constantly exposed to harmful sugars that can eat away at your enamel and cause tooth decay.

 

Luckily though, with mindful consumption of this one drink, you can help maintain a healthy and happy smile.

 

It’s the Superman of beverages. The ultimate libation. And if you haven’t guessed it already, we’ll give you a hint:

 

You need it to survive!

 

That’s right. We’re talking about water. And below, we’ll be uncovering all its dental health-improving secrets. Stick around to find out just how powerful this life-giving liquid can be. What you learn might surprise you!

 

How Can Drinking Water Help Your Teeth?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), sipping water is one of the best things you can do for your teeth.

 

But why is that? What makes it so great?

 

Let’s find out!

 

The Secret Ingredient

The secret to water’s dental health-strengthening power lies in its fluoride content.

 

As you may know, community water fluoridation is a widespread practice across the United States, and the results speak for themselves.

 

Straight from the ADA, “Fluoridation of community water supplies is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.” 

 

And with numbers like these, it’s hard to argue with that statement:

  • According to 2014 data, almost 75% of the American population has access to fluoridated water.
  • Studies prove water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by more than 25% in children and adults.

 

Known as “nature’s cavity fighter,” fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has the incredible ability to strengthen your teeth.

 

Over time, the protective outer layer of your teeth — called the enamel — naturally breaks down from normal wear and tear and exposure to harmful oral bacteria.

 

However, frequent daily exposure to fluoride can help delay this process, minimizing tooth decay and even preventing tooth loss.

 

So, in short, fluoridated water is a tooth’s best friend!

 

No Sugar, No Calories

Most other drinks come with a solid helping of sugar and calories (some heftier than others). 

 

This sugar, although incredibly tasty, sets the stage in your mouth for the development of harmful bacteria and plaque — the two prime suspects in the case of tooth decay.

 

Research has consistently shown that frequent exposure to sugars and carbohydrates leads to cavities.

 

So, to make these drinks more appealing, many companies use sugar substitutes to create low-calorie options. But just because there’s no sugar doesn’t mean these beverages can’t harm your teeth.

 

Low-calorie, no-sugar sports and energy drinks are often carbonated and acidic, two features known to cause enamel erosion.

 

Due to their high acidity, these drinks throw off the pH levels in your mouth, lowering them to the point where your tooth enamel begins to break down. This process is known as acid erosion, which, if left untreated, can be a serious threat to your smile.

 

If you’d like to learn about erosion and how it can impact your dental health, we cover it in our blog about baking soda, a little-known decay-fighting home remedy.

 

But with H2O, you won’t have to worry about any of that because it’s completely sugar and calorie-free!

 

In fact, in the next section, we’ll cover how these properties actually serve to protect your teeth…

 

Nature’s Dental Cleanser

To understand how water can defend your smile, let’s dive into pH levels a little deeper. 

 

The pH scale goes from zero to fourteen, with the lower numbers being acidic and the higher being basic.

 

Water sits right around the middle of the spectrum, meaning it has neutral, balancing properties.

 

So, what does that mean?

 

When you drink acidic beverages like soda and coffee, you decrease the pH level in your mouth.

 

Since water sits higher on the pH scale, it can counteract that acidity, balancing out your mouth’s pH levels and protecting your teeth from erosion.

 

In the words of the ADA, it “cleans your mouth with every sip.”

 

Of course, daily brushing and flossing should still be a staple in your daily dental care routine, but drinking water can act as a healthy preventive measure for your teeth and gums.

 

Xerostomia’s Worst Nightmare

If you’re wondering what the heck xerostomia is, don’t worry. Chances are, you already know what it is, only by a different name: Dry mouth.

 

Dry mouth is a condition where your body produces less saliva than usual, which leaves your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay and cavities. 

 

This increased risk occurs because your saliva plays a major role in your dental health. Not only does it help balance out your mouth’s pH levels, but it also supplies your teeth with the minerals they need to stay strong and fight off decay (i.e., calcium, phosphate, and fluoride).

 

If you struggle with dry mouth, you should consult your San Diego dentist first to find the best course of action. But in the meantime, drinking plenty of water is an excellent way to mitigate the negative side effects of this condition.

 

How Much Water is Enough?

So, we’ve explored how water is the best drink for your dental health. But how much should you drink to get the most out of it?

 

We’ve all heard the popular recommendation of eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day (8×8), but is there any science behind it?

 

According to a meta-review by the American Journal of Physiology, the evidence is lacking. However, in our professional opinion, we think the 8×8 method is a good goal to shoot for. 

 

Why?

 

Because even if you fall short, not only will you be regularly cleaning your mouth throughout the day, but you’ll also be well hydrated.

 

Also, if you find yourself drinking coffee, soda, or other sugary beverages on a daily basis, we’ve got a good rule of thumb for you:

 

Whenever you’re enjoying your favorite sugary drink, have a glass of water on the side as well. Taking sips of water in between drinks of your soda or coffee can help balance out the acidity in your mouth, clear out some of the sugars, and defend your teeth from decay.

 

The Best Offense is a Good Defense

When it comes to dental health, preventive care is the best way to protect your smile. That means good oral hygiene at home and regular checkups and exams at your local dentist.

 

If you live in the San Diego area, Dental Express is home to a family of trusted professionals dedicated to providing you-focused care.

 

We offer services for patients of all ages, accept same-day appointments and walk-ins, and promise to always work with you to find the most affordable solution.

 

Click here to give us a call or schedule an appointment today. When you make Dental Express your dental home, your smile is in good hands.

 

Keep Reading

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Jaw Pain, Clicking, or Popping? You May Have TMD

TMD is a common dental health condition that affects the jaw. Learn the signs, symptoms, treatment options, and all the essential facts below

The human body is a medical marvel.

 

The heart, lungs, nervous system, joints, the muscles that move them, and so much more all work in harmony to ensure a properly functioning body.

 

Today, we’ll be focusing on one of the many joints that keep us moving and grooving throughout our daily lives…

 

Perhaps one of the most important of which is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that connects your jawbone to your skull. This crucial joint is responsible for helping us chew our food and communicate with others.

 

However, years of biting, chewing our food, and clenching can potentially lead to TMJ dysfunction. 

 

If you find that your jaw clicks, pops, or hurts when opening or closing your mouth, you won’t want to miss this article. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this dental health condition.

 

So, let’s jump in!

 

What is the Temporomandibular Joint?

As we covered above, the TMJ allows your mouth to open and close so you can talk, sing, shout, eat, drink, and more!

 

Like the shoulder, the TMJ is a ball-and-socket joint, allowing for a wider range of motion than joints like the elbow or knee.

 

The lower mandible or jawbone connects to both sides of your skull right in front of your ears, and a complex network of ligaments and muscles work together to open and close your mouth.

 

The jaw acts as a hinge, with cartilage surrounding the joint and a “small shock-absorbing disk” connecting the bones to ensure comfortable movement.

 

However, as with most complex systems, if one small piece has an issue, it can affect all the others.

 

What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)?

Referring to research by the Journal of the American Family Physician, we can discover some interesting facts about TMD:

  • Population-based studies show that TMD affects anywhere from 10 to 15% of Americans.
  • Of that 10 to 15%, only 5% end up seeking treatment.
  • TMD is most common between the ages of twenty and forty years old.
  • TMD affects twice as many women as it does men.

 

But what causes this common condition?

 

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), the cause of TMD is often difficult to pinpoint.

 

Of course, incidences of trauma to the face or directly to the jawbone can lead to this condition. Genetics and arthritis could also play a role.

 

But outside of these factors, the consensus among the scientific community is that overuse of the TMJ muscles leads to TMD. Excessive wear and tear can cause the disk to deteriorate, slip out of alignment, or weaken the cartilage that insulates the joint.

 

Whether it’s from chronic grinding or clenching due to stress, bruxism, or too much chewing, TMJ overuse can cause a list of symptoms that may make it hard to chew, open and close your mouth, or even speak.

 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

The symptoms of TMD can range from mild to severe.

 

Some may only notice clicking and popping sounds when they open or close their mouths, while others may experience chronic pain and difficulty using their jaw.

 

Below is a full list of the signs and symptoms that can come with TMD, courtesy of the AGD:

  • Popping and clicking sounds whenever you eat, yawn, speak, etc.
  • Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
  • Stiff or locked jaw when opening or closing your mouth
  • Jaw pain when chewing, biting, or yawning
  • Jaw pain and soreness that’s more pronounced in the morning or late afternoon
  • Chronic headaches, toothaches, neck aches, or earaches without an infection
  • Chronic facial pain or fatigue in your facial muscles

 

If you find yourself experiencing any of the above issues, make an appointment with your San Diego dentist as soon as possible.

 

Although it may be challenging to identify the exact cause of your TMD, your dentist will be able to diagnose it and prescribe the proper treatment for your smile.

 

What Are the Best Treatment Options for Temporomandibular Dysfunction?

The treatment options your dentist recommends will vary based on the severity of the symptoms you’re dealing with. 

 

Most often, TMD cases can be managed with a healthy amount of rest and over-the-counter pain relievers.

 

As far as rest is concerned, try these helpful tips to minimize your symptoms:

  • If you like to chew gum, try cutting back your usage to give your jaw muscles a break.
  • Avoid eating hard or crunchy foods that take a lot of effort to chew.
  • Try to limit extreme jaw movements. For example, yelling, yawning, belting out your favorite songs at karaoke, etc.

 

Meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness exercises can be a great help as well, encouraging relaxation of the mind and body — including tense TMJ muscles.

 

For more severe cases of TMD, your dentist may recommend hot and cold therapy, a nightguard if you struggle with bruxism, prescription medication, or if you have an uneven bite, dental treatment to correct it.

 

Will TMD Go Away?

Many people with TMD often wonder if they’ll have to deal with their TMD forever. But usually, symptoms will subside naturally with plenty of rest, some help from over-the-counter pain relievers, and attention from your San Diego dentist.

 

When it comes to treating TMD, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states: 

 

“Because the most common jaw joint and muscle problems are temporary and do not get worse, simple treatment may be all that is necessary to relieve discomfort. Short term use of over-the-counter pain medicines or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen; the use of a stabilization splint, or bite guard, that fits over upper or lower teeth may provide relief.”

 

They go on to say that while there are corrective surgeries for TMD, they’re irreversible, and there are no clinical trials to back up their effectiveness, so they should be avoided wherever possible.

 

Regardless of their severity, you should seek dental care right away if you notice any signs of TMD. Like all dental health conditions, TMD can worsen over time and become a nagging issue if left untreated. 

 

There for You When it Matters Most

Oral health conditions like TMD can be restricting, but your dental care shouldn’t be. 

 

The last thing you want for you or a loved one is to develop symptoms and have no way of seeking treatment.

 

That’s why Dental Express operates six days a week and provides emergency dental care at each of our six locations in the San Diego area — with a 7th coming to HIllcrest on September 20th!

 

If you notice popping, clicking, or pain when using your jaw, chronic headaches, stiffness, or any of the symptoms listed above, Dental Express is always ready to serve you at a moment’s notice. 

 

If you can’t wait to schedule a visit in the future, feel free to set up a same-day appointment or stop by as soon as possible for a walk-in. 

 

What matters most to us is ensuring your smile stays healthy and pain-free. Make Dental Express your San Diego dentist today, and let’s discover your ideal smile together!

 

Keep Reading

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Sensitive Teeth: Getting to the Root of the Problem

7 Times You’ll Need Emergency Dental Care

How Does Genetics Affect Your Dental Health?

Dental Express is Expanding to Hillcrest September 20, 2021!

Hillcrest residents, we’re bringing our family-friendly, patient-focused care to your neighborhood in just two short weeks!

At Dental Express, our ultimate goal is to offer the five-star care we’re famous for to the entire city of San Diego.

 

We’re working to shift the paradigm in dentistry and put YOU at the center of the proverbial solar system. 

 

“For You, About You” dentistry is our motto, and that means every aspect of our patient care revolves around what you want for your smile. That’s why we offer flexible scheduling, weekend hours, a wide range of payment methods, and a warm family atmosphere.

 

We believe everyone deserves access to affordable care they can trust, no matter their age, occupation, income, or current dental health. 

 

That’s why we’re super excited to announce that we’re expanding! 

 

That’s right. 

 

The grand opening of our 7th Dental Express location is set for September 20th — less than two weeks away!

 

Dental Express Hillcrest

As our family grows, so does our ability to serve you. 

 

Our new Hillcrest location is gearing up to bring our wide range of dental services to uptown San Diego. As always, this office will accept same-day appointments and walk-ins, stay open on Saturdays, offer emergency services, and provide dental care for smiles of all ages.

 

This new operation has been in the works for a while now, and our team is ready and excited to serve your community!

 

Dr. Rachel Ryu at the Helm

If you’ve ever visited our Clairemont location, you may have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Rachel Ryu.

 

She’s been a member of the Dental Express family for over four years now, and we’re happy to say she’ll be our lead dentist at the new Hillcrest office.

 

So, to get you all acquainted, we thought we’d tell you a little about her!

 

It’s Kind of a Funny Story…

Dr. Rachel was born in Seoul, South Korea, lived in Germany for several years, and completed her education in the United States. But you’d be surprised at how she got her start in dentistry…

 

When she was young, Dr. Rachel wasn’t a very big fan of going to the dentist. In fact, she struggled with a good amount of dental fear. So much so that when she moved out of her parent’s house to go to college, she didn’t trust herself to keep up with her routine cleanings and checkups.

 

Growing up, her parents always made sure she went. But now that she’d gone off to college, there was nobody to encourage her.

 

So, what did Dr. Rachel do? She decided to become a dentist so she would never miss an appointment again!

 

After completing her undergraduate career at the University of Washington in Seattle, she finished her dental education at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Then, she spent the first three years of her dentistry career in Texas. 

 

But she soon realized she needed a change in scenery — specifically, more beaches and mountains.

 

So, she made the move to San Diego, and she’s been here ever since. 

 

At Dental Express, Dr. Rachel is known for building meaningful relationships with her patients. She has a thoughtful, compassionate approach that makes each patient feel cared for in their own unique way.

 

Outside the office, she loves spending time with her dog, hiking, going to concerts, and she’s also a very talented painter. One of her favorite things to do is paint portraits of her friends’ pets and give them as gifts!

 

True to the Core

As a dental provider, Dental Express abides by five core values. 

 

These are the principles by which we hire and operate every day across all our offices so we can provide you with the quality dental care you deserve. And our new Hillcrest location won’t be any different.

 

Let’s take a look at what they are and — more importantly — what they mean for you as a patient:

  1. Empathy – Compassionate and judgment-free dental care is one of the cornerstones of our philosophy. No matter your condition, we treat you like family and care for your teeth like we would our own.
  2. Integrity – We’ll never ask you to pay for a treatment you don’t need. If times are tough and you need treatment, we’ll figure out a plan that works best for you and your wallet.
  3. Collaboration – Quality dental care is a collaborative effort between dentist and patient. We promise to consult, inform, and educate you with full transparency at every stage of your dental health journey.
  4. Adaptability – Plans change, problems develop, and emergencies can happen when you least expect them. At Dental Express, we’re always ready to adapt your dental care plan to changes in your life and dental health. We happily accept walk-ins and same-day appointments, and we offer emergency dental services at every one of our locations to provide care when you need it most.
  5. Whistle While You Work – We love what we do, and it shows. Our passion for dentistry and helping our community makes every day at the office fun and fulfilling.

 

The Mission Continues

With the grand opening of our Hillcrest location, we’re one step closer to our dream of offering budget-friendly dental care to all of San Diego.

 

It’s always been our mission to build a culture that our patients and team members love to be a part of, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

 

We want to thank you for joining us on our journey and for all your support along the way. 

 

Whether you’re a new or returning patient, your smile is always welcome at Dental Express, and we’re happy to have you as a member of our family.

 

Affordable Dental Care: Coming to a San Diego Neighborhood Near You

As much as Dental Express has grown in the past several years, you can rest assured that if we’re not already around the corner, we will be soon!

 

By September 20th, we’ll have seven locations in the greater San Diego area: Clairemont, Downtown, Escondido, Point Loma, Poway, Santee, and now, Hillcrest…

 

Each one dedicated to providing quality dental care with a smile.

 

If you’re nearby, drop us a line if you have any questions or stop in and see us. We’d love to see your smile, and we’re always happy to serve our community!

 

Keep Reading

Affordable Dental Care in San Diego: The Dental Express Philosophy

The 7 Must-Have Qualities in a Trustworthy Dentist

8 Dentist-Approved Remedies to Treat Tooth Pain at Home

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Why Are My Teeth Chipping All of a Sudden?

Discover the common reasons why your teeth might be chipping, what to do about it, and how to protect your smile moving forward

Many of us have those infamous dreams that involve tooth loss, and it’s always a relief to wake up and find that it was all in our heads.

 

But when it happens in real life – even in a minor way like with a small chip or break – it can be a scary experience.

 

If it happens due to a fall or other accident, identifying the cause is simple. But if you chip your tooth while eating or randomly in the middle of the night, chances are something’s going on underneath the surface that needs addressing…

 

And that’s what we’ll be talking about today.

 

Below, we’ll be diving into the common reasons why teeth tend to chip or break, what to do if it happens to you, and possible treatments your San Diego dentist may recommend to restore your smile.

 

Common Reasons for Chipped Teeth

Outside of accidents, chipped teeth can be a warning sign that you’re experiencing dental health issues that require immediate care.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the common causes below:

 

1. Eating too Much Hard Food

The outer layer of your teeth, also called the enamel, is made to handle natural foods like vegetables, meats, fruits, and nuts. But hard foods are a totally different story. 

 

Chewing on things like cubed ice, hard candy, jawbreakers, and even your fingernails can cause serious damage to your dental health.

 

Although it may seem like your teeth can easily crunch through ice cubes or hard candy, the solid texture of these foods slowly weakens the integrity of your enamel.

 

Over time, the damage can reach a point where your teeth simply can’t handle the stress anymore…

 

And that’s when chips and breaks happen.

 

So, if you find yourself habitually munching on ice cubes or hard candy, make it a point to stop as soon as possible. Your smile will thank you!

 

2. Grinding Your Teeth

Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding is an involuntary habit that involves clenching and scraping your teeth together. Depending on its severity, this condition can cause toothaches, headaches, jaw pain, enamel erosion, and even broken teeth.

 

Grinding can be a natural reaction to stress and anxiety, or it can happen while you’re fast asleep. But the tricky part is, some people never experience any symptoms at all.

 

If you’ve chipped a tooth and you suspect you may have bruxism, look out for the symptoms listed above and contact your local San Diego dentist immediately.

 

3. Advanced Tooth Decay & Cavities

Generally, the more vulnerable your teeth are to tooth decay and cavities, the more likely you are to chip or break a tooth.

 

A chipped tooth can result from a cavity that was left untreated and allowed to reach an advanced stage. 

 

This unpleasant pain in the tooth can be caused by poor oral hygiene, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption, or even acid reflux and heartburn – conditions that expose your teeth to stomach acids.

 

When an advanced cavity takes hold of your tooth, it eats all the way through the enamel and reaches the soft inner layer, called the dentin. 

 

This severe breakdown leaves your tooth incredibly weak and prone to cracks, chips, and breakage – not to mention tooth sensitivity and other potentially serious dental health issues.

 

The risk of cavities like these is one of the many reasons why daily dental care is so important. Proper oral hygiene can prevent plaque from building up on your teeth and getting out of hand.

 

4. Age-Related Wear & Tear

As we age, our body changes in many different ways, and that includes our dental health.

 

Your teeth are exposed to acidic foods and drinks every day, and over time our enamel naturally breaks down as a result.

 

Essentially, the older we get, the more likely we are to experience a chipped tooth because our enamel simply isn’t as strong anymore.

 

In fact, one study published just this year found that of the 893 patients observed, those who fell within the 45-54 age range were the ones who experienced cracked teeth most often.

 

What to Do if You Chip Your Tooth

No matter how small the chip, crack, or break might seem, it’s crucial to seek emergency dental care as soon as possible.

 

If not, you risk damaging your tooth further by chewing, leaving it open to infection, and in extreme cases, even losing the tooth.

 

But these dental emergencies rarely happen at convenient times. There’s a good chance you may chip your tooth after hours or on the weekends when your local dentist is closed.

 

If for whatever reason you can’t seek medical attention, WebMD recommends these simple guidelines to care for your tooth in the meantime:

  • If you’re in pain, feel free to manage it with over-the-counter pain relievers until you can make it to the dentist. Just make sure to take them as directed!
  • Rinsing with salt water can also help with any pain and swelling.
  • If the chipped tooth has a sharp edge, you can put a piece of sugarless gum or paraffin wax over it to protect your tongue, lips, and cheeks from cuts.
  • If you need to eat, stick to soft foods and avoid chewing with the affected tooth.
  • For complete instructions on what to do if you lose a tooth, check out our blog: 7 Times You’ll Need Emergency Dental Care.

 

Treatment Methods to Restore Your Smile

Based on the severity of the situation, your San Diego dentist may recommend one of the following treatments for your chipped tooth:

  • Fillings – Fillings are an ideal solution for minor tooth chips that don’t leave any dentin exposed. Nowadays, many dentists offer tooth-colored fillings that blend in with the rest of your teeth, giving your smile a natural look.
  • Dental Bonding and Contouring – Bonding and contouring is an excellent treatment for small cracks and chips. Using a tooth-colored resin, your dentist will fill in any spaces and contour the material to blend in evenly with the rest of your smile. And the best part? It usually only takes one visit and is one of the most affordable cosmetic treatments out there.
  • Crowns – Crowns are perfect for teeth that have a little too much damage for a filling to handle. Acting like a suit of armor, crowns restore the shape and function of heavily cracked, chipped, or eroded teeth.
  • Root Canals – Root canals are reserved for those cases that involve advanced cavities or severe breaks that lead to infection. During this treatment, your dentist will clean out the contaminated tissue, fill the tooth, and seal it to prevent further infection.

 

Open for Emergency Dental Care Six Days Week

At Dental Express in San Diego, we know these accidents happen at the most inopportune times…

 

That’s why we make it easy to get the dental care you need when you need it.

 

As a family dentist, we stay open six days a week and accept walk-ins and same-day appointments.

 

If you ever have questions about a chipped tooth or other dental emergencies, you can always feel free to give us a call. Our office team is standing by to answer your dental health questions and provide whatever service you need.

 

Schedule your next appointment with Dental Express today. Here, your smile always comes first!

 

Keep Reading

7 Times You’ll Need Emergency Dental Care

Expert Tips for Taking Care of Your Tooth Fillings

Sensitive Teeth: Getting to the Root of the Problem

7 Things You Need to Know About Root Canals (Hint: They Don’t Have to Be Painful)

What to Expect From a Routine Dental Exam at Dental Express

A complete walkthrough of how we perform dental exams at Dental Express, what we look for, and how often to schedule them 

Going in for routine dental exams is like taking your car in for maintenance.

 

If you’re diligent about getting your oil changed and making your 30,000-mile checkups (whether there’s something wrong or not), you can get hundreds of thousands of miles out of your car.

 

But if you avoid seeing the mechanic, unseen issues can start to develop beneath the surface. In time, they can worsen to the point where driving your car becomes difficult or even impossible.

 

When it comes to your dental health, the same principles apply. You can think of dental exams like oil changes for your teeth. 

 

They’re crucial to identify and treat minor problems before they become major ones, acting as the first line of defense against disease. 

 

But what do they entail? What can you expect when you go in for your regular checkup?

 

Read on as we provide an in-depth breakdown of how we do dental exams at Dental Express, including what red flags we look for, and the steps we take to ensure your smile stays healthy.

 

What to Expect

Dental exams are generally simple and straightforward, usually taking anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour.

 

At Dental Express, we use these routine visits to establish a healthy dialogue between you and your dentist, giving you the space to share your wants and needs for your smile.

 

When you come in for your appointment, our office team will greet you, check you in, and set you up for your visit.

 

Before getting started, we’ll provide you with an iPad to complete the necessary paperwork (i.e., insurance forms, health history, consent forms, etc.).

 

Once you’re finished, one of our dental care professionals will welcome you to the back and begin an in-depth examination of your mouth and oral health.

 

The first stage of this process typically includes taking x-rays, intra-oral photographs, or digital scans of your mouth.

 

These images paint a clear picture of where your current dental health stands and serve as a valuable diagnostic tool for your dentist.

 

Speaking of which, if you’ve ever wondered what your dentist is looking for during an exam, we have your answers right here!

  • Signs of tooth decay and cavities – Symptoms of these common dental health conditions can include tooth stains or discoloration, sensitivity, and even holes in the surface of your teeth.
  • Signs of gingivitis and periodontitis in your gums – Gum disease typically leads to swollen, red, tender gums that may bleed easily. More advanced stages can cause bone loss and even pus to appear between your teeth.
  • Signs of oral cancer in your gums, mouth, and throat – While it may be difficult to spot to the naked eye, oral cancer typically shows itself in the form of oral sores, discoloration of the gums or inner cheeks, lumps, and growths. Your dentist may also use a special cancer-detecting light to make sure your mouth is all clear.
  • Proper bite and alignment – Your dentist will ask you to bite down to ensure your top and bottom teeth are in correct alignment with each other. If you have any restorations (fillings, crowns, implants, dentures, etc.), they’ll examine them to make sure they still fit properly and feel comfortable.

 

Throughout the exam, our main focus will be your teeth and gums, but we’ll also check your face and neck for any abnormalities that could point to potential dental health issues.

 

What if Something Comes Up During the Dental Exam?

If you come to us with any concerns, or your dentist notices signs of dental health issues during your exam, we’ll spend time discussing them and come up with the best possible solutions for your smile together.

 

Our goal at Dental Express is to minimize your time at the office while providing thoughtful, top-quality care. 

 

So, if we do have some dental health issues to take care of, we’ll do as much as we can on the day of the exam to address them — or start to address them — if your schedule permits.

 

Luckily, many dental health issues we find can be fixed same-day. And if that’s the case, we’ll handle them on the spot and send you on your way.

 

During this time, your dentist may give you some recommendations for at-home care. And to wrap things up, we’ll recommend setting up a follow-up appointment, either for a routine hygiene checkup or to continue any necessary treatment. 

 

If at any point you have questions about how to care for your teeth and gums, you can always feel free to give our offices a call. We make a point to provide full transparency throughout the process, so you know how best to maintain your oral health.

 

How Often Should I Have Dental Exams?

Everyone’s smile is different, but generally speaking, the average person should have a dental exam once every year.

 

However, if you’re pregnant or nursing a dental health issue, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.

 

But don’t forget about your dental cleanings!

 

In addition to annual exams, regular dental cleanings are one of the best ways to remove plaque and strengthen your smile. 

 

Regarding cleanings, the American Dental Association (ADA) states that higher-risk patients can benefit from two or more cleanings per year, while lower-risk patients may see the same results from just one annual cleaning.

 

As you likely already know, most dental practices will kill two birds with one stone and combine your annual exam with a cleaning — saving you the time and trouble of having to make two separate appointments.

 

Will My Insurance Pay for a Dental Exam?

After your exam, one of our team members will meet with you to review your insurance plan to ensure you understand how your individual policy works and find the most affordable solution.

 

During this time, we always encourage our patients to ask any questions they have to better understand their policy.

 

Typically, since routine exams are a cornerstone of dental health, most insurance providers will cover them without any out-of-pocket costs.

 

But What if I’m Uninsured?

Many people without insurance feel as if they don’t have access to affordable dental care. But at Dental Express, we’re committed to providing the highest quality care at the most reasonable price — insurance or not. 

 

That’s why we accept several different payment methods, including low-interest medical financing, to get you the treatments you need when you need them, without breaking the bank.

 

We’re also proud participants in the Medi-Cal Dental program, which provides low or no-cost dental care for qualifying California residents. Simply show your Medi-Cal card to one of our office team members to access your benefits at Dental Express.

 

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Don’t wait until you run out of oil to get an oil change.

 

Even if you’re not experiencing any dental health issues, going in for your annual exam is the best way to protect your teeth from tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer.

 

Detecting these problems early can allow you and your dentist to come up with the best course of action to handle them quickly and effectively. 

 

But the proactive method doesn’t just benefit your oral health. It’s great for your wallet too. The cost of treating advanced dental conditions is much more than taking care of minor issues.

 

So, take some initiative with your oral hygiene and schedule your next exam today!

 

Spreading Smiles to All of San Diego

Dental Express is on a quest to provide the entire San Diego community with affordable, patient-focused care.

 

We’re a family of seven dental practices in the area specializing in serving patients of all ages and stages of life, from infants to seniors.

 

Every day, we strive to create a family atmosphere where people can feel at home and accepted, no matter their dental health. Building lasting relationships with our patients is what we do, and it all starts with putting your smile first.

 

Set up your next dental exam with us today and find out why we’re San Diego’s favorite family dentist! 

 

Keep Reading

7 Things You Need to Know About Root Canals (Hint: They Don’t Have to Be Painful)

How to Easily Identify & Prevent Oral Cancer

Why Are My Gums Bleeding All of a Sudden?

The San Diego Newcomer’s Guide to Finding a Dental Provider