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Essential Facts & Tips for Treating Pregnancy Gingivitis

Pregnancy gingivitis is a common concern for expectant moms. Discover the need-to-know tips to ensure healthy smiles for you and your baby

So, you just found out you’re pregnant.




You have such an incredible journey ahead of you, and we couldn’t be more excited for you!


There are a lot of changes to your body you can expect going forward, and this week we’ll be talking about how pregnancy can affect your dental health.


We want to take this opportunity to zero in on a common condition for expectant moms: pregnancy gingivitis.


Many pregnant women wonder why their gums become so sensitive and bleed when they’ve never had any issues before.


We’re here to tell you that this condition is totally normal, and with the proper care, you can minimize and even keep its adverse effects under control.


Keep reading as we explore what causes pregnancy gingivitis, how it affects your body, common questions, and the best tips for management and treatment.


What Causes Pregnancy Gingivitis?

As the name suggests, pregnancy gingivitis is simply a form of gingivitis that occurs in pregnant women.


But to understand the type that soon-to-be mothers deal with, let’s first review your garden variety gingivitis.


Ordinary gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums that occurs due to plaque and bacteria accumulating on your teeth and along your gum lines. 


The toxins from these harmful oral hitchhikers trigger an inflammatory reaction in the body, causing it to send excess blood to the area. This increase in local circulation shows up as red, swollen, and even bleeding gums.


It’s a mild form of gum disease that, if left untreated, can progress to a more severe form called periodontitis.


Now, when you become pregnant, your body starts pumping out a lot more of certain hormones like progesterone and estrogen.


These crucial hormones increase blood flow to your gums, making them feel more sensitive, tender, swollen, and inflamed.


As a result, when you go to brush or floss, you may notice your gums look puffy and red and may even bleed easily.


How Common is Pregnancy Gingivitis?

Recent research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry found that anywhere from 40% to 80% of pregnant women have pregnancy gingivitis.


Typically, expectant moms are more likely to develop this condition in the first and second trimesters, but it can linger and even be at its worst during the third.


Will it Go Away Postpartum?

In most cases, pregnancy gingivitis will go away once your baby is born. But if your symptoms continue, let your dentist know immediately.


The sooner you get the care you need, the sooner you can bring your smile back to health.


Symptoms to Look Out for

This part’s easy.


The symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis are exactly the same as the normal condition. If you notice any of the following issues, make an appointment with your San Diego dentist as soon as possible:

  • Red, swollen, or sensitive gums – or all three
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums


Periodontitis, the advanced stage of gingivitis we mentioned above, can cause severe decay and bone loss, leading to missing teeth in extreme cases. 


This risk makes early detection and care critical for you and your baby’s dental health, so don’t wait to seek dental care if you see any of these signs.


Ways to Manage & Treat Pregnancy Gingivitis

Although there’s no way to predict whether or not you’ll experience gingivitis during your pregnancy, there are several steps you can take to minimize its effects if you do.


Let’s take a look at the four essential tips to manage and treat this common condition:

  1. Daily dental care at home – As with most dental health concerns, your oral hygiene outside the dentist’s office plays a massive role. As a future mom, make sure to brush with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day and floss once a day to cultivate a healthy smile for you and your little one.*
  2. Eating a healthy diet – We know how cravings can get, but try to maintain as healthy a diet as you can during your pregnancy. That means eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and dairy products. Staying away from added sugars and unhealthy carbohydrates that attack your teeth and gums can reduce the symptoms and severity of pregnancy gingivitis. But your nutrition choices during pregnancy aren’t just for you. From the American Dental Association (ADA), “Your baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy, and eating well can help them form correctly.”
  3. Rinsing with mouthwash or saltwater – Using over-the-counter mouthwash or rinsing with salt water can reduce inflammation, ease discomfort, and eliminate harmful bacteria and bad breath caused by pregnancy gingivitis. If you’re unsure which store-bought mouthwash to use, take a look at our article about mouthwash here.
  4. Visiting your San Diego dentist every six months (or more if needed) – We can’t stress how important seeing your dentist is during your pregnancy. During routine checkups, your dentist can monitor your teeth and gums and offer any necessary recommendations to protect you and your baby’s oral health. Depending on how things are going, your dental care professional may recommend more frequent visits to manage symptoms and treat any issues you may have.


*If morning sickness or a sensitive gag reflex make brushing difficult, check out our complete guide for expectant moms. There, you’ll find a full list of common concerns, questions, and dentist-approved guidelines to ensure you and your baby’s dental health are in tip-top shape.


Fostering Healthy Smiles for You & Your Little One

One of the main reasons we wrote today’s article was to reassure you that pregnancy gingivitis is a completely normal condition. To keep the negative effects at bay, all it takes is proper oral hygiene.


At Dental Express, we want you to be prepared to handle your pregnancy dental care needs with confidence. Nothing is more important than you and your baby’s health, and we’re always here to help you on your journey.


Our clinical team has decades of combined experience working with people at all stages of life, including pregnancy. And, of course, we have some experienced moms too!


A lot can change during pregnancy, especially when it comes to your dental health, and having a family dentist that knows what you’re going through can make all the difference.


With six locations in the San Diego area – all dedicated to you-focused care – your dental home base is right around the corner.


Dental Express stays open six days a week, accepts walk-ins and same-day appointments, and works with every patient to accommodate their budget.


Call in, schedule online, or stop by to schedule an appointment. We’d love to help foster healthy smiles for you and your baby!


Keep Reading

Dental Care During Pregnancy: A Guide for Expectant Moms

The Dangers of Prolonged Thumb-Sucking & Pacifier Use

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Causes, Consequences, & Prevention

Mother’s Day 2021: A Salute to Working Moms

Dental Care Showdown: Electric vs. Manual Toothbrushes

Everyone has their preference, but are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones? Find out the pros & cons of each & who comes out on top below

Two minutes twice a day. That’s the golden toothbrushing standard.


And the research is clear. Cleaning your teeth for a solid 120 seconds is proven to remove much more plaque and decay-causing bacteria than a mere 45.


Essentially, the longer you brush, the more food particles you get rid of and the more likely you are to hit those hard-to-reach areas. 


But could the brush you’re using have an impact on how effective your brushing sessions are? 


After all, electric toothbrushes can vibrate, rotate, oscillate, and perform all kinds of complex movements that the human hand can’t hope to mimic.


Are manual brushers truly at a disadvantage? Or are all those fancy automatic brushes just for show?


This week, we’re hosting a dental care showdown between electric and manual toothbrushes to see which is best for your smile. Who do you think will win?


Let’s find out!


Manual Toothbrushes: The Pros

Compared to all the settings and perks that come with an electric model, a manual toothbrush might seem a bit dull.


But according to the ADA, they’ve been around for 5,000 years in one form or another. There’s a reason they’re still around and maintain their popularity status.


Not only are they simple to use, they’re also easy to get your hands on. Nearly every grocery store, supermarket, pharmacy, and even gas station keeps manual toothbrushes in stock.


But perhaps most importantly, they’re affordable. Whereas an electric toothbrush can run you anywhere from $10 to $300 or more, you can find a manual brush for as little as $0.99.


Even if you could find a powered toothbrush for a comparable price, you’d probably have to make a serious sacrifice in quality, which is never a good thing when your smile’s at stake.


Manual Toothbrushes: The Cons

As reliable as manual toothbrushes are, they do come with a couple drawbacks.


Compared to someone who uses an electric toothbrush, manual brushers are more likely to brush harder, which can lead to enamel abrasion and even erosion.


Also, since many electric models come with built-in timers, manual brushers may be at a disadvantage when it comes to brushing time. It’s harder to tell if you’ve brushed for the full two minutes without a timer, so you may unknowingly be cutting your sessions short.


Try using your phone’s timer or a regular kitchen timer to see how long you usually brush, and bump it up to two minutes if you find yourself finishing too soon.


Electric Toothbrushes: The Pros

Nowadays, you can take your pick from a wide range of electric toothbrushes, from basic one-setting models to advanced ones with all the trimmings.


Let’s take a look at the benefits that come with these powered brushes:

  • Ease of use – As with most pieces of technology, battery-powered or rechargeable toothbrushes make brushing much more convenient. There’s no need to scrub back and forth and up and down. All you have to do is press a button and slowly move the bristles over your teeth. This ease-of-use makes them perfect for young children who haven’t gotten the hang of brushing yet, or seniors who have trouble with at-home dental care due to arthritis or other mobility issues.
  • Built-in timers – As we mentioned above, two minutes twice a day is crucial to your dental health. Some electric brushes come with built-in timers that tell you when you’ve hit the mark so that you can stay consistent with your dental care routine.
  • Built-in pressure sensors – More advanced models can actually help you avoid brushing too hard using built-in pressure sensors. Depending on what type you get, your brush can alert you in one of two ways. It will either automatically reduce the power to the brush to minimize the risk of damaging your enamel, or it will switch on a light to give you a visual cue that you’re using too much force…Or both!
  • Replacement reminders – We’ve talked a lot about how often you should replace your brush on our blog, but remembering to get a new one every three to four months is easier said than done. With certain electric toothbrushes, you don’t even have to think about replacing your brush head, because it will automatically remind you when the time comes!


Now, all these high-tech add-ons are cool, but it’s time to take the gloves off and ask the big question…


Are Electric Toothbrushes More Effective at Cleaning Teeth Than Manual Ones?

The answer: Yes…


But only slightly!


In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) states that the difference is so small that “it’s a wash,” and all that matters is you brush twice a day for two minutes.


Plus, it’s essential to note that only one type of electric model has been shown to achieve these improved results.


In the studies that report powered toothbrushes being more effective, models that both oscillate and rotate reduced plaque 7% more and gingivitis 17% more than manual brushes.


But again, the ADA doesn’t consider this statistically significant enough to select a winner. 


So, if those percentages are enough to make you want to use an electric brush, then by all means, go for it!


But the takeaway for these tech’d out teeth cleaners is that they allow the user to have “optimal” brushing technique – whether they’re capable of brushing manually or not.


So, if you or someone you know has trouble brushing properly, an electric toothbrush is the way to go. 


Outside of that, it’s entirely up to you!


Electric Toothbrushes: The Cons

Aside from the glaring price difference we talked about earlier, the main issue you’ll likely run into is finding replacement heads for your electric brush.


Depending on what kind you get, you may find that only certain stores carry new heads. This scarcity can make replacing them difficult if your store runs out of stock or if you go out of town.


And of course, battery-powered models mean you’ll need to take batteries with you wherever you go, unless you have a backup manual brush for traveling.


Overall, as the ADA says, the moral of the story is that – no matter what type of brush you use – you should brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.


And as always, don’t forget to floss!


San Diego’s Top Destination for Healthy Smiles

When you visit Dental Express, your smile always comes first. 


We’re known around San Diego for our family-friendly atmosphere and affordable dental care, and we strive to live up to that reputation every day. 


Our philosophy is to treat dentistry as a public service instead of a business, which drives us to consider your needs and budget before every decision.


If you want you-focused care at a reasonable price, give us a call. We have six locations in the greater San Diego area open six days a week, and we’re always accepting same-day appointments and walk-ins.


Just have some dental care questions you want answered? Our office team is always standing by to help out and give essential tips. Whatever your dental needs are, please don’t hesitate to reach out!


Keep Reading

Do You Make These Common Dental Care Mistakes?

The Health Conscious Consumer’s Guide to Buying a Toothbrush

Dental Care Over 65: Everything You Need to Know

How Your Dental Health Affects Your Overall Health

Dental Care Over 65: Everything You Need to Know

Dental care only gets more important as we age. Learn the common dental concerns and essential tips for healthy smiles over 65

As we age, natural changes occur throughout our bodies that can impact our health in any number of ways…


And dental health definitely falls under that umbrella.


But what changes should you expect as you grow older and wiser? And how can you make sure your mouth stays in top shape despite those changes?


At Dental Express, we’re on a mission to demystify dental care for people of all ages, and this week is all about adults over sixty-five.


So, follow along as we break down potential dental health risks for seniors, and best practices for combating and preventing them.


Common Dental Health Concerns for Adults Over 65

As our age increases, so does our risk for certain dental health conditions. 


Once we reach the sixty-five mark, we’re much more likely to develop issues that can affect everything from our bites to our ability to maintain healthy dental care habits at home.


Below, we’ve put together a list of these senior dental health concerns, so whether you’re using them personally or as a caregiver, you’ll know what to look out for:

  • Cavities – As you get older, your risk of cavities increases. Decades of eating acidic foods, drinking, chewing, and chomping down take their toll on your enamel, leaving your teeth more vulnerable to decay. Dry mouth can also contribute to the development of cavities.
  • Dry mouth – The American Dental Association (ADA) states that dry mouth or xerostomia affects 30% of patients older than sixty-five and up to 40% of patients older than eighty years. With stats like these, it might surprise you to learn that dry mouth isn’t a natural part of the aging process. It’s usually a side effect of prescribed or over-the-counter medications for pain, blood pressure, asthma, and depression. However, it’s also associated with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and diabetes.
  • Trouble chewing or biting down – As enamel weakens over time, chips, cracks, cavities, and other dental health issues are more likely to occur, which can make it challenging to bite down and chew your food.  
  • Periodontitis – Like the incidence of cavities, the risk of periodontitis also increases with age. With normal wear and tear and age-related gum recession, periodontal disease has a much easier time taking hold in your mouth as you get older. 
  • Missing teeth – Whether from a lifetime of use or dental emergencies, missing teeth are far more common in older adults. In fact, research shows that the average senior over sixty-five years old has about nineteen out of thirty-two of their natural teeth left. Missing teeth can not only make it harder to chew, but may also cause further bone loss and decay in surrounding teeth.
  • Physical limitations – Conditions that affect mobility can dramatically impact how well a person can maintain their dental health. For example, an older adult with arthritis in their shoulders and hands may find it too difficult to brush and floss their teeth properly. 
  • Oral cancer – This life-threatening condition pops up around 35,000 times every year, and according to the ADA, the average age of those diagnosed is sixty-two. Oral cancer is caused by mutations in your mouth cells’ DNA. Scientists are unsure why these changes happen, but known risk factors include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, too much time in the sun, human papillomavirus, and a vulnerable immune system. For an in-depth guide outlining signs, symptoms, and preventive strategies, check out our article on how to easily identify and prevent oral cancer.


Now, we don’t mean to go all “doom and gloom” on you, but this is why dental care is so crucial as we age. Any one of these dental health issues can become a serious threat if you’re not careful. 


So, let’s talk about the best ways to fight them!


Essential Dental Care Tips for Seniors

As nice as it would be to have an invincible set of teeth, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid at least some kind of age-related decline in dental health.


But with the right dental care habits at home and some help from your San Diego dentist, you should be able to keep your risks nice and low.


Brought to you by the Dental Express clinical team with some extra help from the ADA, the following list is your guide to maximizing your dental potential and maintaining a healthy smile as you age:

  1. Consistent daily dental care – One of the pillars of dental health is daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash (if you like). The ADA also states that regular application of fluoride varnish can be helpful.
    1. Brushing tip: If mobility issues make manual brushing a chore, you can customize a manual toothbrush by attaching a thicker handle to it, or you can invest in an oscillating electric toothbrush with a larger grippable handle.
    2. Flossing tip: If using traditional floss is too tricky, interdental cleaners like waterpiks, pre-threaded flossers, and interdental brushes can help make cleaning in between teeth much easier.
  2. Choose a soft-bristled brush and replace it regularly – Medium and hard-bristled toothbrushes can damage both your enamel and gums, which may lead to tooth sensitivity and gum recession. Soft-bristled brushes are the safest option and provide plenty of cleaning power to keep your smile healthy. And to ensure your toothbrush stays effective, replace it every three to four months or as soon as you notice the bristles start to fray.
  3. Healthy nutrition is key – Another pillar of dental health, nutrition, has a big impact on your smile. To minimize the adverse effects of acidic foods and drinks, the ADA recommends avoiding added sugars and processed foods wherever you can. Instead, reach for natural foods like fruits, veggies, grains, and lean meats. For beverages, try to limit your consumption of sweetened drinks (coffee, juice, soda, etc.) as much as possible.
    1. Moderation tip: Cutting back on sweetened foods and drinks doesn’t have to mean going cold turkey. If you drink three cups of coffee a day, try reducing it to two for a couple of weeks. Then, once you’re comfortable with drinking two, drop it down to one. The great part about this method is that you can use it for any food or drink. Give it a shot. Your smile will thank you!
  4. Proper denture care – Oral bacteria don’t discriminate between surfaces. It can latch onto dentures just as well as natural teeth. So, whether you have full or partial dentures, make sure to clean them every day to get rid of any harmful bacteria and keep your mouth healthy. Also, make sure not to use regular toothpaste to clean your dentures because it can damage them and make them unwearable.
  5. Don’t miss your regular dental exams and checkups – Regularly seeing your San Diego dentist allows them to check for any unseen issues, re-fit any uncomfortable bridges, dentures, or other restorations, and perform oral cancer screenings. Many people with no remaining natural teeth think they don’t need to see the dentist, but nothing could be further from the truth. With age-related dental health problems, early detection is the name of the game, and routine checkups are the best way to ensure it.
  6. Offset limited home care with more dentist visits – If you still struggle to maintain your at-home dental care routine even with the above tips, you can compensate by setting up more frequent appointments with your San Diego dentist. Filling in the gaps with professional care can help you stay on the right track and keep your smile strong and healthy.


Providing “For You, About You” Dentistry for People of All Ages

Dental Express in San Diego is here to service your smile at every stage of life.


We specialize in dental restorations like dentures, partials, and bridges, and we have a knack for making dental care comfortable and affordable for our patients.


If you’d like to learn more about senior dental health or set up a consultation, feel free to give us a call at one of our six locations.


We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have, and we’d love to be a part of your dental health journey!


Keep Reading

Need-to-Know Dental Care Tips as You Age

How to Easily Identify & Prevent Oral Cancer

Sensitive Teeth: Getting to the Root of the Problem

7 Times You’ll Need Emergency Dental Care

Do You Make These Common Dental Care Mistakes?

We’re all human; we’re bound to mess up. But avoiding these 11 common dental care mistakes can save you a lot of time, money, and toothaches

With all the dental care products and information out there, knowing right from wrong can be challenging.


What toothpaste should you use? Is it okay to brush right after you eat? Is mouthwash a proper substitute for flossing?


There are a lot of little nuances that can adversely affect your dental health if you’re not careful.


But today, we’re going to clear up the confusion once and for all. 


Read on to see if you’re making any of these eleven common dental care mistakes and, if so, learn how to fix them.


1. Brushing too vigorously

You would think that the harder you brush, the better you can clean and remove teeth stains, but this isn’t the case.


In fact, brushing too hard can wear down your enamel and damage your gums, causing them to recede. If you don’t let up, your gums may recede enough to expose the nerves in your teeth, causing tooth sensitivity.


If you find that you a lot of force when brushing or you notice your gums are receding, try using these two simple tips to ease up and give your teeth a break:

  1. Use gentle movements – Lightly press the brush against your teeth and move it back and forth in short strokes (about the width of one or two of your teeth). Make sure to clean both the outer and inner parts of your teeth, as well as the surfaces! 
  2. Take it slow – Slowing down a bit can help you focus on the pressure you put into brushing.


2. Brushing for less than two minutes

We all know we should be brushing twice a day for at least two minutes. But come on…


Two minutes takes forever!


According to recent research, the average person brushes their teeth anywhere from thirty to sixty seconds.


But while you may be saving yourself a minute or so of precious time, you’re also leaving much more harmful plaque on your teeth than you would if you stuck it out for the full two minutes.


One study in the Journal of Dental Hygiene demonstrated that “…brushing for 120 seconds removed 26% more plaque than brushing for 45 seconds.”


And if you have the patience to brush for another minute, going for a full 180 seconds was shown to remove 55% more plaque than brushing for just 30 seconds.


3. Waiting too long to replace your toothbrush

Do you find yourself wearing out your toothbrushes until the bristles become frayed and bent out of shape?


Then chances are you’re not replacing them often enough. 


The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends getting a new toothbrush every three to four months. If you notice yours starts to fray sooner than that, then it’s best to go ahead and replace it.


The more beat up the bristles look, the less effective the brush is at cleaning your teeth. So, keep a close eye on your toothbrush’s health. Your dental health depends on it!


4. Not storing your toothbrush properly

Do you lay your brush down when you’re done using it or store it in an enclosed space? Or perhaps both?


These are two dental care red flags.


Per the ADA, “Store toothbrushes in an upright position after use and allow them to air dry.”


Putting your damp toothbrush in a container or drawer in between uses encourages the growth of bacteria far more than keeping it out in the open.


5. Using a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush

Similar to number one, you’d think that a toothbrush with harder bristles would remove more plaque and bacteria.


Unfortunately, these types of brushes can damage your teeth and lead to gum recession.


To stay on the safe side, always stick to soft-bristled brushes. They’re tough enough to get the job done, and they don’t come with the risk of any adverse effects on your dental health. 


6. Avoiding flossing because your gums bleed

If you notice your gums bleed whenever you floss (or even when brushing), it may mean you have gum disease or gingivitis. 


It might look scary, but these dental health conditions don’t mean you should stop flossing. Quite the opposite, actually!


Aside from setting up an appointment with your San Diego dentist asap, it’s best to keep your teeth and gums as clean as possible in the meantime.


That means brushing twice and flossing once daily to prevent the further development of plaque and tartar in your mouth.


7. Not brushing your tongue

Do you leave your tongue unbrushed whenever you clean your teeth? 


Believe it or not, your tongue is just as big a target for harmful oral bacteria as your teeth.


Brushing your tongue every time you brush can help fight plaque buildup and prevent gum disease.


And although it may seem like a practical alternative, rinsing with mouthwash doesn’t actually get the job done. 


You can learn why and other fun facts about your lingual “muscle” in our recent article: 6 Things You Never Knew About Your Tongue.


8. Using fluoride-free dental care products

If you use fluoride-free toothpaste, you’re still removing plaque from your teeth when you brush, but you’re missing out on a crucial benefit.


Fluoride toothpaste, unlike its non-fluoridated counterparts, strengthens your enamel. 


The stronger your enamel, the more resistant it is to decay. This extra line of defense helps protect your teeth from cavities, providing you with an advantage that fluoride-free products can’t.


Community-fluoridated water certainly helps reduce the incidence of cavities, but this method alone isn’t enough. 


Fluoride toothpaste and other fluoridated dental care products offer a complete solution to shielding your teeth from decay.


If you’re currently using fluoride-free products, we strongly recommend making the switch to improve your dental health.


9. Using mouthwash as a replacement for flossing

“If I swish hard enough, I should be able to clear out those hard-to-reach places, right?”


We wish it were that easy, but unfortunately, it’s not.


Mouthwash is a great way to fight bad breath and clear out some oral bacteria from your mouth, but it’s not a proper substitute for flossing.


The only reliable way to remove food particles and bacteria stuck between your teeth is through flossing or using another type of interdental cleaner.  


Mouthwash should be used to supplement a healthy dental care routine – brushing twice a day, and flossing once a day – not a replacement.


10. Ignoring signs of dental health issues

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been guilty of this one at one point or another.


But maintaining your dental health is all about the long game. The more you ignore symptoms in the present, the more likely you are to have serious issues down the road.


If you exhibit any of the following signs, don’t wait to visit your San Diego dentist: 

  • Bleeding gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Mouth sores
  • Toothaches or any pain in the mouth or jaw
  • A chipped tooth, broken, or lost tooth
  • Missing filling or crown
  • Nerve pain
  • Tooth infections
  • Swollen jaw or neck


We promise it’s better to nip these problems in the bud sooner rather than later. The price you’ll pay now will pale in comparison to the price you’ll have to pay in the long run for ignoring them.


In these situations, it’s crucial to have a dentist that’s willing to work with you to fit the treatments you need into your budget comfortably.


For tips on picking the right dentist for you, check out our guide to finding a dental provider.


11. Waiting until something hurts to visit your San Diego dentist

When you own a car, you’re supposed to take it in for a checkup every thirty thousand miles or so, whether you’re having trouble with it or not.


These regular inspections allow for any necessary repairs and make sure your car is still in good working condition. 


If you only bring it in for service when there’s something wrong, you run the risk of letting unseen issues cause significant and even irreversible damage.


Well, the same goes for your teeth!


Regular checkups and exams are absolutely vital to ensuring your dental health stays on the right track.


Without them, tooth decay, gum disease, and other potentially serious conditions can creep their way into your mouth without you noticing.


Waiting until something hurts to make a dentist appointment can lead to fillings, dental caps and crowns, and even lost teeth.


You’ve only got one set, so be diligent about visiting your San Diego dentist. Your smile depends on it!


Besides, you’d bring your dream car in for regular service, wouldn’t you?


Have any Questions? Dental Express is Happy to Help

Curious whether you’re making all the right dental care moves? Have any hygiene-related questions?


Feel free to give us a call. Our team is always happy to educate and inform you about how to maintain a healthy smile – whether you’re our patient or not!


Local to San Diego? Dental Express has six locations that offer family dental care, flexible scheduling, and plenty of budget-friendly ways to get the treatment you need when you need it.


Call or book an appointment online today. At Dental Express, your smile comes first!


Keep Reading

The Health-Conscious Consumer’s Guide to Buying a Toothbrush

4 Interdental Cleaners That Can Improve Your Dental Health

Fluoride: Brushing Away the Myths for Good

Best Tips When Choosing the Right Toothpaste for You

The 7 Must-Have Qualities in a Trustworthy Dentist

Want to find a dentist you can trust? Look for these key qualities when shopping for a dental care provider

We know how it is. Searching for a good trustworthy dentist can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re seeking care for your loved ones too.


But we promise:


There are plenty of excellent dentists out there!


Ones that will meet you where you are, listen to your concerns, and provide the expert care you need with integrity and compassion.


You just have to know how to spot them.


To help you on your quest for top-notch dental care, we’ll be breaking down 7 major qualities to look for in a dentist, as well as some red flags to watch for along the way.


1. Your Comfort Comes First

No matter your comfort level with visiting the dentist, your provider should be ready and willing to accommodate you.


And if for whatever reason they can’t, they should have no problem referring you to someone who can.


Even if you need nitrous oxide sedation to feel relaxed enough for a routine dental exam, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if your current practice doesn’t offer that service, getting a referral to a dentist who can provide that level of comfort should be a piece of cake.


Many people are afraid of seeking dental care because they’ve had negative experiences in the past, or they’re worried that a certain treatment might hurt.


But the truth is – with modern technology and sedation methods – most dental treatments should be painless, with only a select few being minimally uncomfortable.


Still, your dentist should never make you feel bad or guilty for requesting comforting accommodations.


Dentistry is about helping people. It’s about improving their overall health, self-image, and confidence through proper dental care. There’s no room for shame or guilt in this business.


Dentists should do everything in their power to make each visit as calm and manageable for you as possible. 


2. Healthy, Open Communication

The relationship between dentist and patient is incredibly important, and healthy, open communication is key.


When you share your dental health concerns and budgetary limitations with your provider, they should listen. 


By listen, we mean they should take that information into account every time they make a suggestion that affects your smile and dental health.


For example, say you need an urgent treatment that you can’t pay for in full at the moment. 


To help you get the care you need, your dentist should work with you to find the most affordable and timely option, like low-interest medical financing, other alternative methods of payment, or a different (and more cost-effective) procedure.


Also, they should be asking you questions like, “What do YOU want for your smile,” or “What are YOUR dental health goals?”


Asking you about your wants and needs allows them to tailor their services to best care for your smile.


Dentistry is a partnership between doctor and patient, and your care should feel that way. 


Your provider should create an environment where you feel comfortable and safe talking about your dental concerns and desires.


If they make you feel uncomfortable or guilty for expressing your needs, or they aren’t interested in hearing about them, that’s a red flag.


3. Integrity

This quality boils down to finding a dentist that won’t prescribe treatments you don’t need or can’t afford. 


But of all the items on this list, it’s probably the most difficult for patients to pick up on. 


With what the average person knows about dentistry, how can we make sure we’re getting the care we need?


Here are some red flags to look out for that can reveal a provider’s true intentions:

  1. If they don’t ask what your dental health concerns and goals are
  2. If they’re not comfortable with you seeking a second opinion
  3. If they deny you services that will make you more comfortable during treatment
  4. If they’re pushy about locking you into a treatment plan
  5. If they insist on giving you a treatment you can’t afford
  6. If they don’t go through treatment options with you
  7. If they make you feel bad or guilty for your current dental health
  8. If they sound like they’re reading a script


It’s worth mentioning that it often helps to trust your instincts in these situations. 


But knowing these red flags can sharpen your radar and help you find the right provider for you. A trustworthy dentist, the well-intentioned dentist will be honest, open, and make you feel secure.


4. Accepting of All Smiles

A good trustworthy dentist never judges or shames anyone whose oral health is less than ideal. 


No matter what state your mouth and teeth are in, and regardless of your previous access to dental care, your dentist should welcome you with empathy and open arms.


As we stated above, if instead of friendly professional advice you get shaming or guilt-tripping, that’s a big red flag.


A dentist’s job is to foster healthy smiles and provide a safe place for everyone that sits in their chair, not to judge people for their dental care habits.


5. Provides the Care You Need, When You Need It

When looking for the right dentist, you want one that’ll be there when you need them.


If you have a dental emergency on Friday night, you don’t want to wait until Monday to be seen. The sooner you can get care, the better.


Partnering with a dentist that provides urgent care on weekends can ensure your smile is protected in the event of an emergency.


It’s also a huge plus if they accept walk-in appointments. If your tooth filling cracks during a meal or your child chips a tooth, you can head straight to the dentist instead of worrying about making arrangements. 


That way, you can save time and reduce the risk of any complications, protecting you and your loved ones’ smiles. 


6. Makes Booking an Appointment Easy

Scheduling appointments online or over the phone should be a walk in the park.


The office team should be friendly, accommodating, and willing to work around your schedule as best as possible.


If you have any questions about home dental care, recovery from a recent treatment, or other topics related to dentistry, reaching out for advice shouldn’t be an issue.


If communicating or setting up appointments with a dental office is a constant hassle, it might be best to move on.


7. Treats You Like Family

The best dentists are the ones that make you feel at home. 


They give you the space to share your concerns freely and without judgment. 


They ask you about your life, talk to you like a friend, and care for you like family. 


As humans, we naturally pick up on these genuine connections. But unfortunately, not all dentists have the desire to connect with their patients in this way. 


Our best piece of advice? Look for one who does.


Tackling the Lack of Trust in Dentistry, One Smile at a Time

If you’re looking for a trustworthy dentist in San Diego, Dental Express is committed to inspiring a positive outlook on dentistry.


Our patients are our family, and when you visit us, your comfort is our top priority. We offer various sedation options for all of our services, including nitrous oxide sedation.


Integrity is one of our core values, and we make every decision based on your dental care needs, goals, and budget.


No matter if it’s been six months or six years since your last dentist visit, you’ll receive the same professional, compassionate care.


If you or a loved one has a dental emergency, we offer urgent care services six days a week and always accept walk-ins and same-day appointments.


If you’d like to find out how easy and hassle-free it is to book an appointment, you can contact us by phone or schedule online at any of our six locations.


Unfortunately, finding a trustworthy dentist can be difficult. But if you’re in San Diego, we’ve got you covered.


Keep Reading

Affordable Dental Care in San Diego: The Dental Express Philosophy

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

7 Times You’ll Need Emergency Dental Care

8 Dentist-Approved Remedies to Treat Tooth Pain at Home

How to Win the Fight Against Sugar Cravings

Take control of your sugar cravings and protect your dental health with these appetite-curbing tips and tricks

These days, it’s hard to even look at food without consuming a few calories from added sugars. They’re everywhere.


They’re in our dairy products, bread, sauces, teas, juices, coffees, candies, baked goods, and much more.


With these unnatural sugars being so hard to avoid, it’s no surprise that many people succumb to their addictive qualities.


Sugar has been shown to lead to withdrawal symptoms and bingeing. And excessive consumption can affect everything from your mood to your sleep quality — and worst of all — your dental health.


But don’t worry. If you’ve been struggling with sugar cravings and you’re looking for a way to beat them, you’ve stumbled across the right article.


Below, we’ll be exploring what may be causing your sugar cravings, the potential consequences of eating too much sugar, and some valuable tips to help you curb your cravings and come out on top.


What Causes My Sugar Cravings?

Before we get started, it’s important to note that when we say sugar, we’re referring to unnatural or added sugars. 


The natural sugars in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and grains are off the hook here.


Now, if you find yourself at the mercy of frequent win the fight against sugar cravings, more often than not, it’s your body’s way of telling you something is off.


In the following list, you’ll find some of the potential reasons you may be having those sugar withdrawal pangs that are so hard to resist:

  • You may not be drinking enough water – Without enough water, your body can feel fatigued and desperate for energy. To a dehydrated body, the quick boost of energy that sugar provides can often seem like the perfect solution. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
  • You may be eating an unbalanced diet –  If you’re eating far more carbohydrates than protein or healthy fats, then you’re more likely to experience sugar cravings. The body processes carbohydrates – especially added sugars – faster than protein or fat. So, if you find yourself getting hungry again within an hour to ninety minutes of your meals, you might be consuming too many carbohydrates and not enough of the other two vital macronutrients.
  • You may not be eating enough – If you go too long without eating a meal or restrict your diet too much, your body can become deprived of energy. Since carbohydrates are the quickest source of fuel, the body starts to crave carbohydrate-rich foods. These days, that often means unhealthy processed foods and drinks that contain added sugars, like sodas, candy, snack bars, etc.
  • You may be getting poor sleep – If you don’t sleep well, it can feel like you’re running on empty during the day. Sugar provides a near-immediate boost in energy, so it’s natural to crave it when you sleep poorly.
  • You may be stressed out Ever had a stress craving? There’s a scientific reason for it. When we’re chronically stressed, our body constantly feels like it’s in danger, which can throw our hormones out of balance and increase our blood pressure and insulin levels. The body knows that a hit of sugar will release dopamine in the brain and help counteract some of that stress, so it naturally starts craving it.
  • You may have a sugar habit – Having cookies, ice cream, or other sweets at the same time every day can create a habit out of consuming sugar. This daily ritual can cause your body to crave sugar at that regular time, just like clockwork. Stress eating can also become a habit that contributes to too much sugar in your diet.


What Can Happen if I Eat Too Much Sugar?

Unless you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like sweets, you’ve more than likely had your fair share of sugar binges.


If so, you’re probably all too familiar with the short-term consequences of overindulging in your sugar cravings: the post-sugar high crash, mood changes, trouble getting to sleep at night, etc.


But what are the potential long-term effects of eating too much sugar?


Let’s find out:

  • Tooth decay and cavities – When sugars mix with oral bacteria, harmful acids form that can build up and create plaque. Without proper care, this plaque can eat away at your tooth enamel (tooth decay) and eventually cause cavities.
  • Inflammation – A 2011 study found that participants who drank just one can of soda (40g of sugar) per day over three weeks showed increased inflammatory markers associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Insomnia – Just as poor sleep can cause sugar cravings, the opposite is also true. Excess sugar in your diet can make it harder to fall asleep and get good quality rest.
  • Weight gain – Harvard Health states that: “Excess consumption of sugar…also contributes to weight gain by tricking your body into turning off its appetite-control system.” Put simply: sugars aren’t as satisfying as other, more nutritious foods, and they can trap your body in an endless cycle of hunger.
  • Fatty liver disease – Recent research has found a link between higher sugar consumption and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 
  • Diabetes – Fatty liver disease is a known contributor to diabetes, which increases your risk of heart disease.


As you can tell, our bodies really don’t like sugar. It tastes great going down and gives us a short burst of energy, but that’s about where the benefits stop.


By the way, we’re not sharing these health risks with you to scare you in any way. Our goal is to arm you with the facts so you can take the proper steps to create a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.


Tips & Tricks for Fighting Sugar Cravings

Now that we’ve got all the scary stuff out of the way, it’s time to gear up for the battle against those dreaded sugar cravings.


When you’re in the midst of a craving, it can seem like you have no control over your urges. Luckily, there are several ways to not only counteract them and put yourself back in the driver’s seat, but also prevent them altogether.


Below are some helpful tips and tricks to help you take control of your win the fight against sugar cravings once and for all:

  • Move your body – Exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, has been shown to reduce activity in parts of the brain responsible for cravings. 
  • Eat higher protein meals – Since protein keeps your body satisfied for longer, the higher your meals are in protein, the less likely you are to have sugar cravings in between meals. Just make sure you still eat a balanced diet overall.
  • Eat healthier carbohydrate-rich foods – Believe it or not, there are “good” carbohydrates! Foods like rice, sweet and regular potatoes, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are excellent sources of healthy carbohydrates (and lots of valuable micronutrients!)
  • Chew sugar-free gum When you feel a craving coming on, reach for some sugar-free gum instead. The act of chewing can trick your body into thinking it’s eating and may help stave off some of the cravings. But that’s not all it can do. Check out our guide on chewing gum to see how it can help prevent cavities!
  • Drink plenty of water – The golden rule is eight glasses of water a day, but research suggests that 15 cups a day (about a gallon) is ideal for men, and 11.5 cups are optimal for women. We’ll let you decide what works best for you, but if you find yourself regularly dehydrated, try to at least shoot for eight glasses a day.
  • Eat craving-fighting foods – Aside from the healthy carbs listed above, the following foods are well-known for their craving-satisfying properties: berries, avocados, pistachios, quinoa, oats, beans, hummus, olives, olive and coconut oil, non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, zucchini, cabbage, etc.), yogurt, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and Medjool dates.
  • Check the label – If you’re looking for foods that don’t have added sugars, look out for these sneaky aliases on the ingredient label: glucose, dextrose, maltose, sucrose, fructose, trehalose, molasses, corn syrup, corn sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, lactose, invert sugar, molasses, turbinado sugar, honey, brown sugar, raw sugar, and malt syrup.


When fighting win the fight against sugar cravings, being mindful about your consumption is the name of the game. 


If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, try implementing just one of these tips for a few weeks before adding in any extra.


Over time, you’ll slowly regain control over your cravings and learn to protect not just your dental health, but your overall health too!


Dental Express Is Your Sidekick Win the Fight Against Sugar Cravings

Regular dental checkups and cleanings are a crucial part of counteracting the adverse effects of sugar consumption.


If you’re looking for five-star dental care for the whole family, then Dental Express has you covered.


We make family trips to the dentist easy and worry-free and cater our service to your wants and needs.


With six locations in the greater San Diego area, you don’t have to look far to find friendly, reliable service at a reasonable price.


To us, dentistry is less of a business and more of a genuine medical service, and we do our best to fit whatever treatments you need into your budget and lifestyle.


If you’d like to set up an appointment, you can schedule one online or over the phone today. And, of course, walk-ins and same-day appointments are always welcome!


At Dental Express, your smile is in good hands.


Keep Reading

I Eat a Healthy Diet. Can I Still Get Cavities?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Causes, Consequences, & Prevention

Is Chewing Gum Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

How Your Dental Health Affects Your Overall Health

6 Things You Never Knew About Your Tongue

You know your tongue helps you taste, eat, and talk, but these 6 Things You Never Knew About Your Tongue which are fun facts just might surprise you (and #4 may gross you out!)

Without our tongues, life would be quite a hassle.


We wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation with each other…


We wouldn’t be able to eat or swallow properly


But worst of all, we wouldn’t be able to taste our food.


The thought alone is enough to make you shiver!


But luckily, these lingual masterpieces of biology are right where they’re supposed to be. And as it turns out, there’s a whole lot more to them than their primary functions.

Today, we’re bringing you a fun and informative article filled with little-known things you never knew about your tongue about one of the most important organs of the human body. Follow along as we share 6 Things You Never Knew About Your Tongue!


1. Your tongue is just as vulnerable to bacteria as your teeth

While it’s not at risk of developing tooth decay, your tongue is still exposed to the same amount and types of bacteria as your teeth.


And as you’ve likely noticed by now, it’s not smooth; there are little bumps and grooves all over it.


Well, those bumps are called papillae, and the way they’re shaped and arranged on the surface of your tongue creates the perfect hangout spot for food debris and oral bacteria.


Without proper care, that bacteria can encourage the development of dental plaque, potentially leading to tooth decay and gum disease.


But that’s where your daily dental care habits come in. You’ve probably already heard that it’s essential to brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.


Now you know why. Tongue health is essential to dental health!


2. Got bad breath? Tongue scraping isn’t any better than brushing

With the world chewing through an estimated 560,000 tons of gum per year, we humans are no strangers to the battle against bad breath…(and that’s not even counting mint sales!)


But many people are under the impression that since much of the “bad breath” bacteria sits on the tongue, tongue scrapers can provide a better defense than traditional tongue brushing.


The scientific community tends to disagree, however. 


There’s a term for the types of bacteria that cause bad breath: volatile sulfur compounds, or VSCs.


In a study by the Journal of the American Dental Association (ADA), researchers found that although both the tongue cleaner (a combination brush and scraper) and the tongue scraper were more effective at reducing VSC levels than regular brushing, the reduction only lasted for thirty minutes.


After that amount of time, the VSC levels for all three methods returned to normal. With only a thirty-minute window, the ADA wasn’t comfortable promoting tongue scraping as a useful weapon in the fight against bad breath.


But don’t let this research discourage you from using tongue scrapers to improve your tongue health! We’ll talk more about this oral health technique in a moment.


3. It’s not “a” muscle

You’ve probably heard that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body at some point or another.


But not only is this statement false, it’s also misleading. The tongue is actually made up of two different muscle groups, each containing four muscles!


One group of muscles secures the tongue to the surrounding facial structures, while the other makes up the incredibly flexible and agile pink blob that we see when we open our mouths.


You’ll notice in the previous sentence that we didn’t say the tongue attaches to a specific bone…


Well, this is because it doesn’t play by the same rules as the other muscles in your body. 


Together, the two groups of tongue muscles form something called a muscular hydrostat, which works a lot like an octopus’s tentacles.


This complex network of muscles functions independently of any bone structure and allows you to twist, turn, and morph your tongue into all kinds of shapes and sizes. 


And it’s a good thing too because, without all that range of motion, speaking and eating would be a whole lot harder!


*By the way, pound for pound, the strongest muscle in the human body is the masseter, a jaw muscle that’s responsible for closing your teeth!


4. Things can get “hairy”

Yes, you read that right. 


There is, in fact, an oral health condition called “hairy tongue” that causes your tongue to take on a furry look.


Remember the papillae from fact number one? 


If for whatever reason, they’re unable to shed away their dead skin cells, they hold onto that extra tissue instead and continue to grow longer.


Reaching further out from the base of the tongue, these extended papillae catch far more food particles and bacteria than normal.


The result? The papillae become stained by whatever bacteria comes into contact with them, giving your tongue that hairy look.


And the “fur” could be black, brown, or white in color, depending on what you eat or drink.


Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?!


Don’t worry. Hairy tongue is usually totally harmless, painless, and you can easily brush the fur away with a tongue scraper or toothbrush.


But what causes this freaky-looking condition?


The cause of hairy tongue is hard to pin down, but according to Mayo Clinic, these factors may play a role:


  • Changes in the normal bacteria or yeast content of the mouth after antibiotic use
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Regular use of mouthwashes containing irritating oxidizing agents, such as peroxide
  • Tobacco use
  • Drinking excessive amounts of coffee or black tea
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Eating a soft diet that doesn’t help to rub dead skin cells from your tongue


Although regular brushing can typically get rid of this unsettling condition, if it doesn’t go away, make an appointment with your San Diego dentist.


5. You have a “tongue print”

Just like you have a fingerprint that’s unique to you, you also have a totally original tongue print!


Much like the grooves in the skin on your fingertips, the arrangement of the papillae on your tongue is responsible for this one-of-a-kind design.


Interestingly, forensic scientists are working out a way to use people’s tongue prints as a way of identifying them.


According to a study by the Journal of Forensic Dental Science:


“The tongue is unique to every person with respect to its shape and surface textures. Since it is an internal organ, it can be easily exposed for inspection and the exposed surface carries the required information…In recent years, tongue print is gaining momentum as an important tool in biometric authentication.”


6. Your tongue health is a window to your oral and overall health

If there’s an issue with your tongue health, chances are something is happening within your body that’s causing it.


For example, creamy white patches on your tongue could mean you have a fungal infection called thrush…


Lichen planus is a skin condition involving the immune system that can also lead to white patches on the tongue…


Hard, flat white patches that won’t come off with regular brushing or scraping could be a sign of leukoplakia, a condition that’s linked to cancer…


Canker sores can occur if you accidentally bite your tongue or brush too hard…


A smooth, bright red tongue accompanied by mouth pain could mean you’re not getting enough vitamin B3 in your diet…


Raised, painful bumps can be a sign of oral cancer


And bad breath can be the result of poor dental hygiene.


If any of these issues persist longer than two weeks, give your San Diego dentist a call as soon as possible. 


In the meantime, stay on the safe side and help prevent dental health concerns like these by cleaning your tongue every time you brush. 


As far as tongue-cleaning methods go, scraping is a perfectly suitable option to remove food debris and bacteria, but traditional brushing works just as well.


Whatever you do, just make sure you do it consistently. A healthy tongue promotes a healthy mouth!


What`s next when you learn 6 Things You Never Knew About Your Tongue?


For You, About You Dentistry – Without Breaking the Bank

If you live in San Diego, Dental Express offers premium family-friendly dental care at an affordable price.


We make this dream a reality by working with each of our patients to accommodate their budget and provide the dental care they need to enjoy a healthy smile.


If you’re looking for top-notch care with a team that feels like family, give us a call for more information or schedule an appointment online today.


Keep Reading

How Your Dental Health Affects Your Overall Health

Is Chewing Gum Good or Bad for Your Teeth?

How to Easily Identify and Prevent Oral Cancer

7 Times You’ll Need Emergency Dental Care

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Causes, Consequences, & Prevention

Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, but it’s entirely preventable. Learn the facts and how to protect your baby’s smile below

Baby bottle tooth decay as a parent, your baby relies on you to help them develop a healthy, happy smile.


How you take care of their mouth and teeth when they’re young can have a profound, lasting impact on both their dental health and overall health.


One of the biggest health risks to look out for is baby bottle tooth decay, also known as early childhood caries (ECC).


But what many parents may not know is that decay can start as soon as your little one’s first tooth comes in.


And just because their teeth aren’t permanent doesn’t mean they’re any less important. Left untreated, baby bottle tooth decay can cause developmental, Cosmetic Dental Implants, and functional issues that can follow your child for many years.


In today’s article, we’ll be laying out everything you need to know about this all-too-common condition, and what you can do to ensure your little one grows up with a healthy smile they can be proud of.


Let’s get started.


What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

This term is typically used as a blanket statement for childhood tooth decay or cavities. 


Tooth decay occurs when sugars interact with the bacteria in your mouth. The result is a harmful acid that can eat away at the outer layers of your teeth.


The name “baby bottle tooth decay” comes from one of the common causes: when babies are allowed to drink sugary drinks from their bottles too frequently. 


One of the most common examples is when parents lay their baby down for bed at night with a bottle full of milk or formula.


They may not realize it, but these drinks contain sugars and can cause tooth decay in baby teeth.


As long as you clean their mouth and gums before laying them down, there’s nothing wrong with feeding your little one before bed. 


But when you leave the bottle in bed with them, they can expose their teeth to harmful sugars throughout the night, which break down their enamel and lead to cavities.


Now, let’s take a look at some of the other leading causes, so you know what you’re up against.


What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Including the causes mentioned above, here’s a list of factors that can increase your child’s risk of tooth decay:

  • Frequent exposure to sugary drinks (fruit juices, sodas, sweetened water, formula, and breast milk are the most common culprits)
  • Letting your baby sleep with their bottle (filled with anything other than water)
  • Feeding your baby before bed without cleaning their mouth and teeth
  • Giving your baby a bottle instead of a pacifier to help them calm down
  • Passing your oral bacteria to their mouth by licking their spoon or “cleaning” their pacifier with your mouth
  • Not enough exposure to fluoride through either drinking water or daily brushing


Each of these factors alone is enough to cause dental health issues, but the more that apply, the higher your child’s risk goes.


If you find yourself in any of these situations, do your best to cut back as soon as possible. We’ll be covering the most effective ways to prevent baby bottle tooth decay later, but for now, it’s time to discuss what can happen if the condition is left unchecked.


What Are the Consequences?

From the American Dental Association (ADA): 


“Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a good-looking smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly.” 


As you can imagine, out-of-control baby bottle tooth decay can disrupt these normal processes and damage your child’s quality of life. A reality that no parent wants for their little one.


It’s not fun to think about, but it’s essential to learn what can happen in the worst-case scenario to fully understand just how much a baby’s dental health can affect the rest of their life.


What follows is a detailed breakdown of the potential dangers that come with baby bottle tooth decay:


Complications With Adult Teeth

If the decay does enough damage, your child could lose one of their baby teeth prematurely, leaving space in their jaw. 


This extra room may cause their adult teeth to shift and fill in the empty space, making it difficult for the surrounding teeth to come in properly. 


Usually, this can lead to overcrowding and crooked teeth, which are harder to clean and can leave certain areas more vulnerable to decay.


Eating May Be Painful

Unfortunately, tooth decay and cavities often come with pain that can make it hard for your little one to chew their food.


If it hurts to bite down, it may discourage them from eating, which can impact their overall health.


Problems Speaking & Biting

According to the ADA, baby bottle tooth decay is most common in the upper front teeth.


If a child loses one of their two front teeth, they could have trouble speaking and biting down properly.


Tooth Decay Can Spread

Tooth decay is an infection. 


If the affected teeth don’t get the attention they need, the decay can spread to surrounding areas, creating even more serious dental health issues.


Self-Esteem Issues

Decayed, unhealthy teeth can also affect your little one’s confidence. If their teeth are brown and discolored, they may be afraid to smile, which is heart-breaking just to think about.


Childhood Dental Health Influences Adult Dental Health

Finally, the less healthy a child’s baby teeth are, the more likely their adult teeth will be unhealthy.


Issues like these are why establishing strong dental care habits as early as possible is so powerful. If you can help them grow a healthy smile when they’re young, they have a much better chance of carrying it with them into adulthood.


How Can I Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Now that we’ve covered the potential risks, it’s time to give you all the tools you need to make sure your little one has a decay-free childhood.


Adapted from ADA recommendations, the list below is your guide to preventing baby bottle tooth decay: 

  1. For infants, dampen a clean washcloth or gauze pad and gently wipe their gums following every feeding and before bedtime.
  2. As soon as their first tooth comes in, start brushing it twice a day with a child-sized toothbrush. Be sure to use fluoridated toothpaste; the amount should be about the size of a grain of rice. When they turn three, you can bump it up to a pea-sized amount.
  3. Brush your child’s teeth until they can do it safely without swallowing toothpaste. They’ll usually get the hang of it at around six or seven years old. 
  4. Avoid putting your little one to bed with a bottle that contains a sugary drink. Even if it’s watered down, it can still cause baby bottle tooth decay. 
  5. Once your baby’s first tooth comes in, avoid constant breastfeeding and letting them fall asleep while breastfeeding. 
  6. Don’t substitute a bottle for a pacifier; this can lead to prolonged exposure to sugar.
  7. Drinking out of a sippy cup lowers their risk of developing baby bottle tooth decay. Try to teach them how to use one by their first birthday.
  8. Don’t allow your child to sip on sugary drinks constantly. Make these tasty beverages a mealtime treat. If they get thirsty in between meals, offer them water instead.
  9. The more your baby snacks, the more they expose their teeth to sugars. Try to limit snacking in between meals to give their teeth a break.
  10. Stay away from turning sweet treats into rewards for your child. 
  11. As often as you can, offer sweet foods and drinks as mealtime treats.
  12. Help your little one maintain a healthy diet. Healthy diets foster healthy smiles.
  13. The ADA recommends taking your child in for their first visit as soon as their first tooth erupts and no later than their first birthday.
  14. Last but certainly not least, schedule regular checkups and exams with your San Diego dentist. They’ll evaluate your little one’s mouth and provide treatment tailored to their smile.


Building Healthy Smiles That Last a Lifetime

Fostering healthy habits and a positive outlook on dentistry are the best ways to protect your child’s smile…


And having a family dentist can be a huge help.


At Dental Express, we take every opportunity to educate our younger patients in fun, exciting ways that encourage curiosity and healthy dental hygiene.


When you bring your child into one of our San Diego offices, we’ll make sure their visit is not just positive, but one they’ll enjoy and remember for years to come!


Give us a call or schedule online today to get started. And if you have any questions about the prevention or treatment of baby bottle tooth decay, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


Keep Reading

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Healthy Oral Habits for Children’s Dental Health Month

Tooth Fairy 101: How to Get Your Kid Excited About Dental Care

A Parent’s Guide to Children’s Dentistry

The Dangers of Prolonged Thumb-Sucking & Pacifier Use

Excessive thumb-sucking and pacifier use can put your child’s dental health at risk. Learn how and what you can do about it below

Of all the things that babies do, thumb-sucking has got to be one of the cutest.


Newborns instinctively suck on their fingers (most often the thumb) for a couple of different reasons:

  1. It’s an urge that helps with the feeding process
  2. It soothes them and helps them feel secure


Understandably, thumb-sucking and pacifier use often become a habit as a result. 


But once a child’s permanent teeth start coming in, continued sucking can have a negative impact on their dental health.


If you have a newborn or young child, you want them to grow up with a healthy smile. So, it’s essential to understand how these habits can affect them and what you can do to help your little one grow out of them on time.


Follow along as we go over everything you need to know about thumb-sucking and pacifier use, including when your child should break these habits, what can happen if they don’t, and the best steps to help them stop.


A Totally Natural Reflex

As we mentioned above, sucking on thumbs and pacifiers are completely normal things for babies and young children to do.


It can even happen while a child is still in the womb!


If they need to wind down for bed at night, popping a thumb in their mouth is often just the ticket. It’s relaxing, comforting, and can help them get to sleep easier. 


And if you’re a new parent, we don’t have to tell you how powerful a pacifier can be. They’re the weapon of choice when it comes to combating fits and tantrums.


But as their caregiver, knowing when enough is enough can help you protect their dental health and encourage the growth of a healthy smile.


When Should My Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb/Using a Pacifier?

Most often, children will naturally grow out of their thumb-sucking or pacifier habit anywhere from two to four years of age. This is usually around the time their permanent teeth start coming in. 


Of course, every child is different; some may get their adult teeth sooner than others. 


That’s why it’s important to keep a close eye on their dental health, so you’ll know if and when it’s time to intervene.


If your child is still using a pacifier or sucking their thumb at three to four years old, but they don’t have any permanent teeth yet, then there’s no need to be concerned about any lasting issues.


But now that you know the natural age range, you can use your best judgment and start weaning them off once they approach the upper limit.


If you’re unsure whether it’s time to start breaking the habit, you can always talk to your San Diego dentist for advice.


How Can The Dangers of Prolonged Thumb-Sucking & Pacifier Use Affect Their Dental Health?

Unfortunately, if your little one doesn’t kick these habits before their permanent teeth come in, it can create developmental, alignment, and Cosmetic Dentistry Cary issues for their smile.


Continued sucking places abnormal force on the adult teeth as they’re trying to grow in properly. This undue pressure not only affects the alignment of your child’s teeth, but also interrupts their jaw development.


Most commonly, prolonged pacifier use and thumb-sucking cause the following alignment issues:

  • Posterior Crossbites – As the name suggests, posterior crossbites occur in the back teeth or molars. This issue happens when the back teeth are angled towards the tongue, with the upper molars positioned at a sharper inward angle than the lower molars. You can see what a posterior crossbite looks like in the pictures below.
  • Anterior Open Bites – Anterior open bites affect the front teeth, causing them to angle outwards. Misalignment like this can create gaps and make it so that your child’s front teeth don’t touch each other when their mouth is closed. See the pictures below for reference.
  • Flared Anterior Teeth – The constant outward pressure that sucking creates can cause your child’s front teeth to “flare” outwards, as seen in the pictures below. 


Left arrow: Posterior crossbite. Center arrow: Anterior open bite.

A: Posterior crossbite with flared front teeth. B: Anterior open bite. C: Posterior crossbite with flared front teeth.


As you can imagine, alignment issues like these can make it challenging for your little one to bite down and chew. Not only that, but with flaring and gaps in their front teeth, they may find it hard to speak properly as well.  


We’d love to say the issues stop there, but unfortunately, they don’t.


To top it all off, posterior crossbites can put a lot of extra stress on their rear teeth, potentially leading to fracturing and even tooth loss.


There are orthodontics and dental restorations that can help fix many of these problems if they do occur. 


But as a parent, you want your little one to enjoy a childhood free of dental health issues. Most importantly, you want their smile to last a lifetime.


So, what can you do to help them break the habit?


How Do I Help My Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb/Using a Pacifier?

As a parent, you can help your little one grow out of these habits at home by weaning them off and using plenty of encouragement and positive reinforcement.


First off, it’s important to note that it’s easier to wean a child off using a pacifier.


So, whenever you notice your child sucking their thumb at home, make sure to offer them a pacifier instead. Following it up with a positive talk about why you’re helping them stop the behavior can be a big help too.


Remember, do your best to be patient, understanding, and gentle during this process. It will take some time, and reprimanding them or trying to change their behavior when they’re stressed out can do more harm than good.


If you notice they tend to suck their thumb in response to stress, take some time to learn what triggers the behavior and take steps to ease their mind.


If they get nervous before going to daycare or preschool, try giving them some extra affection and reassurance whenever you drop them off.


If your little one turns to thumb-sucking for comfort throughout the day or at bedtime, having a favorite blanket or stuffed animal to hug can be the perfect replacement.


Many times, your child may not even notice they’re doing it, and all it’ll take is a quick reminder to stop.


Watch your little one closely and use your best judgment as you go through this developmental stage with them. 


Ideally, you’ll want to begin this process before their adult teeth start coming in. If they’re still sucking their thumb and using a pacifier past that point, talk with your San Diego dentist as soon as possible.


They can closely monitor your child’s dental health and help positively reinforce the importance of breaking these habits.


Your San Diego Family Dentist

When it comes to thumb-sucking and pacifier use, early intervention at home combined with expert care from a family-friendly professional is the best solution.


If you’re concerned about your child’s dental health, having a family dentist is crucial. 


Not only can it save you the time, money, and hassle of having multiple dentists, but it can also provide your little one with the positive and uplifting environment they need to create good habits at home.


At Dental Express in San Diego, many of our doctors are moms and dads themselves and have decades of experience helping point loma children’s dentistry build healthy relationships with dental care. 


We understand what it takes, and we’re committed to helping you and your family get there.


Contact our offices by phone today or set up an appointment online. Your little one deserves a healthy smile!


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7 Reasons Why Smiling is Good for Your Health

Research strongly suggests that smiling can boost your health in many ways. Here are our top 7

Smiling is good for your health we’ve all been in those stressful situations where the last thing on our minds is what makes us happy or things that make us laugh…


But then something happens. Something that puts a smile on our face or even makes us burst out in laughter. Then, instantly – almost like magic – we feel a little lighter.


Maybe a close friend or loved one says something funny. Or your pet does something so ridiculously silly that you can’t help but laugh.


All of a sudden, the problem you’re facing becomes more manageable. It’s as if the humor of the situation creates some space between you and the issue, allowing you to approach it from a happier and more light-hearted place.


Well, as it turns out, there’s a scientific reason for this.


The simple act of smiling has been shown to improve several aspects of our health, from our productivity at work to something as vital as our immune function.


Keep reading as we explore just how far these benefits go, and how smiling can make a big difference in your overall health.


1. Lower Your Stress, Raise Your Mood

The idea that your facial expressions can impact your mood and emotions isn’t new.


In fact, aside from his theory of natural selection, Charles Darwin was known for his Facial Feedback Response Theory.


This theory proposed that the same way emotions elicit a physical response in us – like a smirk or a full-fledged toothy smile – voluntarily making those same expressions can trigger the corresponding emotions.


In other words, whether you’re feeling happy or not, smiling can lift your mood.


Since then, scientific research on this topic has widely upheld Darwin’s theory.


How the Faces You Make Affect Your Stress Response

A well-known study by the University of Kansas Department of Psychology required 169 participants to perform stressful tasks while covertly manipulating their facial expressions in a few different ways.


To ensure they held the desired expressions, researchers trained the subjects to hold chopsticks in their mouths in three different ways.


One group was made to hold a neutral expression. 


Another was trained to hold a standard smile (using just the muscles around the mouth). 


And the last was made to hold a Duchenne smile, which is when you use both the muscles around your mouth and your eyes, creating a genuine, happy smile.


It’s funny to imagine, but the chopsticks were crucial to make sure each participant held their assigned expression throughout the experiment.


Researchers then had their subjects perform one of two stressful multitasking activities and measured how their bodies responded both throughout the test and after they finished.


The two main factors the researchers studied were the participants’ self-reported stress levels and heart rates.


Interestingly enough, those made to smile during the test – whether it was a standard of Duchenne smile – had lower heart rates while recovering from the stressful activity than those with neutral faces. 


What’s more, Duchenne smilers showed slightly lower heart rates than the standard smilers. And when compared to those with neutral faces, participants with standard smiles reported higher stress levels.


These results suggest that even when we aren’t feeling particularly happy, “grinning and bearing it” can help with both our stress response and our body’s ability to bounce back from stressful situations.


Surprisingly, even fake smiles can set off a cascade of physiological processes in your brain that elevate your mood and reduce stress.


So, the next time you feel stressed, whether you’re on the phone with customer service or held up in traffic, try cracking a smile. 


Your body won’t know whether it’s fake or genuine, but it’ll respond like it is!


2. Improve Your Immune Function

Our emotional states and immune function are deeply intertwined with one another. 


When we feel anxious and stressed, our overall health and wellbeing often reflect that in certain ways…


But the opposite is also true, and that’s where smiling comes in.


Smiling relieves stress, and research shows that when our bodies are more relaxed, our immune systems can function more effectively.


So, smiling doesn’t just lift your mood. It can improve your health too!


3. Get More Done

As we hinted at in the intro, there’s evidence to suggest that happy people get more done.


One study performed by the Warwick Business School supports this hypothesis, revealing just how big of a role happiness may play in work productivity.


Researchers subjected participants to a series of exercises, showing some of them a ten-minute film containing comedy routines. 


After seeing the video, those who reported higher levels of happiness were 12% more productive on the following tasks than unhappy workers or those that didn’t find the comedy routines funny. 


The reverse was also shown to be true, with participants who reported lower happiness levels being less productive.


With what we now know about smiling, we can lift our mood – and thereby our productivity – simply by showing a little more teeth!


4. Improve Your Blood Pressure

Smiling, and laughing in particular, can not only relieve stress and leave you feeling uplifted, fulfilled, and relaxed…


But can decrease your heart and respiratory rates, as well as a marked decrease in blood pressure.


Health benefits like this certainly give new meaning to the adage, “Laughter is the best medicine.” And they’re all the more reason to smile!


5. Reduce Pain

As we’ve seen, smiling can impact the way we respond to stress.


But a study for the American Psychological Association explored how this natural expression of happiness can affect pain tolerance.


Two hundred thirty-one participants were split up into four groups, each with their own assigned expression: neutral faces, standard smiles, Duchenne smiles, and grimaces.


They were then subjected to something seen by most as generally stressful (and even terrifying for some): a vaccine-like injection.


Similar to the earlier study, researchers used chopsticks to achieve the desired expressions. 


Heart rates and self-reported levels of pain, distress, and emotion were recorded during and after the test to study how each expression influenced the participants’ responses.


Amazingly, the Duchenne smile and grimace groups reported around 40% less pain than those who held neutral expressions.


But what’s even more fascinating is that the Duchenne group was the only one that showed significantly lower heart rates than the neutral group.


These findings suggest that smiling can not only reduce your perception of pain, but can also help your body respond to it more effectively.


You might get some funny looks if you try this at the doctor’s office, but if you struggle with needles, forcing a smile just might be worth it.


6. Sharing is Caring

At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard that smiles are contagious. Well, here’s why…


As humans, we’re wired to mirror the facial expressions of people we see.


It’s our way of identifying exactly what kind of face the other person is making and the emotion that typically corresponds with it. Interestingly, it also helps us determine whether or not the expression they’re making is genuine.


Whenever we see someone smile, our instincts tell us: “That person is happy!” Then, we naturally start to smile, setting off a chain reaction in our brains that leads to all the benefits we’ve talked about today.  


So, whenever you smile, there’s a good chance you’ll be sharing your happiness with those around you. And the best part?


It’s free!


7. Live Longer

Perhaps the most exciting benefit on our list today: smiling may actually help you live longer.


A 2009 study performed at Wayne State University found a link between smile intensity and longevity.


Because of the wide range of available statistics on each athlete, researchers chose to study Major League Baseball players for this experiment.


Looking at 230 baseball cards, they filed each card away in one of three categories based on the players’ smile intensity.


The results?


Those who weren’t smiling or had a neutral facial expression lived 72.9 years on average, and the big cheesers lived an average of 79.9 years.


Of course, we need more research to firmly establish a connection between smiling and longevity. But generally, science points to happier people leading longer and healthier lives.


Now, could this be because of all the previous benefits we’ve discussed? It’s highly likely.


The body is an incredibly complex and wonderful thing. But one thing’s for sure: 


Smiling more certainly can’t hurt!


Smiling is Good for Your Health, Build a Smile That Makes You Smile

Smiling works wonders for your health and wellbeing…


But sometimes, our dental health can make us feel self-conscious about showing our teeth.


If something is holding you back from sharing your smile with the world, Dental Express is here to help. As a family dentist, our wide range of services is tailored to people of all ages and stages of dental health.


No matter your situation, we’ll meet you there with understanding, compassion, and affordable solutions. Everyone deserves a smile they can be proud of, and our top priority is to get you back to smiling, both on the inside and out!


Contact one of our San Diego offices online or by phone today to schedule an appointment. Same-day appointments and walk-ins are always welcome!


Keep Reading

How Your Dental Health Affects Your Overall Health

How Does Genetics Affect Your Dental Health?

Sensitive Teeth: Getting to the Root of the Problem

How Did Early Americans Take Care of Their Teeth, Part II