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General Dentistry

How Custom-Made Mouthguards Can Help Minimize Concussion Risk

By | General Dentistry

Every parent knows that sports mouthguards are essential to prevent serious injuries to their kids’ teeth and gums. The American Dental Association reports that 15 million Americans of all ages suffer from dental injuries annually, resulting in the loss of five million teeth. Many others suffer from chipped or cracked teeth, dislocation of the jaw, and harm to gums and other soft tissue. Wearing a mouthguard makes all the difference in preventative care and protecting the player from the damage a blow can do.

A clinical trial recently also showed that wearing a specific type of mouthguard can protect someone from concussion. In the peer-reviewed journal General Dentistry, a study was reported of 412 players on six high school football teams. All wore the same helmet, but three teams were given over-the-counter mouthguards, while the other three wore custom-made ones from a dental office.

Those who wore the OTC mouthguards ended up with 8.3 percent suffering from mild traumatic brain injuries. Those who wore the dental version had just 3.6 percent such injuries. Dr. Jackson Winters, the lead author of the study and a pediatric dentist, is also a former high school and college sports official. He commented, “Consumers may believe that today’s advanced helmet design provides sufficient protection, but our research indicates that, when compared to over-the-counter versions, a custom-made, properly fitted mouthguard also is essential to player safety.”

The California Dental Association has advised that it is important for everyone to wear mouthguards in even non-contact sports like baseball, gymnastics, volleyball, bicycling, and skateboarding.

The problem with OTC mouthguards is that they either are ready-to-wear and do not fit properly or designed to be put into boiling water and then placed in the mouth for form around the teeth, which loses its shape quickly. Neither provides the protection level that a professionally custom-made one does. Mouthguards also need to be remade from time to time to accommodate growth spurts and new dental work. It is important to choose a dental office with lots of experience in making these. Custom-made mouthguards and night guards can make it easy to breathe and speak and will hold their form a long time.

Call our dentist for an appointment to have your child or anyone in your family who plays any kind of sport examined for what type of mouthguard they may need. We happily serve the areas of Manhattan Beach, Torrance, Marina Del Rey, Torrance, South Bay, Hawthorne, Lawndale, Gardena, and more. It is also a good opportunity to also have a digital (low radiation) x-ray and general dental checkup to be sure there are not invisible health issues with your teeth and jawbone.

Important Minerals to Consider to Maintain a Healthy Smile

By | General Dentistry

Few of us grew up understanding exactly what foods were good for our health, beyond “don’t eat too much sugar or fatty meats.” Even fewer have known that nutrition can play an essential part in your oral health and that dental health affects your overall wellness (since periodontal bacteria can spread through the body and increase the risk for everything from diabetes to cardiovascular disease).

As people age, however, they learn the vitamins and minerals do play a vital role in the density of their bones. If you don’t get enough calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, it has been long understood that you will likely eventually suffer from osteoporosis, the thinning of bones that makes them at high risk for fracture.

More recently, it has been recognized that 500 mg. of calcium and 700 International Units of D taken daily can keep teeth from being lost, as reported by WebMD:

“Studies have shown that calcium and vitamin D supplementation…may improve tooth retention, along with routine dental care and good oral hygiene,” said Elizabeth Krall, MPH, PhD, the lead author of a study and a researcher at Boston University Dental School and Tufts University Nutrition Research Center. The results included a 40% reduction in tooth loss over the following two years, compared with a control group that took placebos. One reason is that as we age, the jawbone loses density even faster than bones elsewhere in the body.

Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption, which is why they are usually taken together. The American Dietetic Association recommends not exceeding more than 2,500 mg. a day for calcium and 1,000 units of D.  

Cheese is rich not only in calcium, but a protein called casein, which helps build tooth enamel. Cheese is also a good source of D. D formation can be stimulated by spending some time in the sun, but those with darker skin have difficulty meeting their requirements this way.

Often overlooked among minerals is magnesium, even though it has many uses by the body, including preventing high blood pressure, diabetes, and complications in pregnancy. It is found in nuts, whole grains, beans, seeds, and dark leafy vegetables. It helps calcium be absorbed if it is taken as a supplement in half the amount: so 1,000 calcium mg. would be matched with 500 mg. of magnesium.  

To be sure you maintain good oral health, rinse your mouth with water after drinking sugary beverages or eating high-sugar foods. Maintain a regular schedule of dental exams with your dentist. Keep brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing at night to prevent the plaque developing on which bacteria feed that emit acids that harm teeth.

Are Veneers Right for Just One Tooth?

By | General Dentistry

You might have a full set of 31 perfect teeth, but one right at the front is smaller or larger than its neighbors, or misshapen, chipped, cracked, crooked, or discolored in a way you can’t seem to change. Or maybe there’s a gap that makes you hesitate to fully smile. What to do?

You’ve no doubt heard of veneers, plural, as a popular way for everyday Joes and Jills to get a gleaming Hollywood smile at a non-celebrity price. But what if you feel you only need to repair or cover one tooth?

Dental veneers are made of thin, but strong, biocompatible porcelain. Manhattan Dental Care Studio works with a top dental laboratory to craft whatever veneers you need–even a single one–to exactly match the size, shape, and shade of its neighbors. No one would ever know you weren’t born with that new smile that is the result.

Having the confidence that comes from a perfect smile can improve your life in many ways, whether it is socially (like that crucial first date), at work (with customers or colleagues), or volunteering for a worthy cause (yes, even humanitarians sometimes make unconscious snap judgments if you don’t flash a friendly grin).

The first step to this new smile requires a full dental exam, including a digital x-ray (which emits minimal radiation), to be sure there are not more important issues to address first. You may also need to have the tooth or teeth being treated professionally whitened first, so the translucent veneer doesn’t reveal a tooth that is too dark (a thin enamel surface can reveal the yellow dental layer below it). 

If proceeding, Dr. Erick Gutierrez and his team will shave down the tooth to be covered slightly, so that when the veneer is placed it doesn’t stick out and look unnatural (this also helps the veneer adhere). A putty mold impression will be made of the area to be sent to the lab to create the final veneer. It will also be used to provide a temporary one to place over the tooth, to protect it from sensitivity to cold or hot drinks, to test drive the feel of the new bite, and so that your smile looks good while waiting.

When the veneer arrives a week or so later, you will return to have Dr. Gutierrez place it on and refine the fit and feel until it is perfect. With proper care, a veneer can last 10 years or more. For the first step in starting your veneers treatment, contact our team today for a consultation. We service the areas of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Lawndale, South Bay, Gardena, and more.

What Foods Can I Eat with Invisalign?

By | General Dentistry

Whether you are a teen or an adult with teeth that need straightening, you feel lucky to have been able to avoid wearing traditional braces, with their brackets, wires, rubber bands, and springs for a number of reasons you’ve heard about from those who have them:

  • It takes two to three years to finish the process of fixing crooked teeth (which in itself might induce a frown, instead of a smile). It’s embarrassing to walk around that long as a “metal mouth,” but sometimes you may even have to wear extra headgear to put pressure on certain teeth (though usually just at night).
  • They are not just real uncomfortable, especially after they’ve just been tightened to keep the teeth moving towards their ideal positions, the wires can cut your gums and the insides of your cheeks.
  • They involve a lot of visits to the dentist to make adjustments.
  • Cleaning teeth is really challenging: you have to use special brushes to very thoroughly remove every particle of food and need to floss carefully around the braces to avoid moving the wires. You may need to also use a Waterpik or AirFlosser. If you aren’t diligent, your dentist will have a tough time fixing cavities or treating gum disease.
  • There are a lot of food restrictions, including ice, nuts, hard candy, gum, caramels, gummies, apples, bagels, carrots, and pretzels:

The good news is there is an alternative that has none of these negatives: Invisalign transparent aligners, plastic trays that are custom-made to fit over the teeth you want to move and push them towards their correct positions.

There are no food restrictions. You just remove the aligners whenever you eat: you just slip them off, put them in a case so that you don’t lose them, and place them back on when you’re done. You’re supposed to wear the aligners every hour other than when eating if you want the Invisalign magic to happen on time: it can take anywhere from six to 18 months to complete the process, depending on how complicated your case is. There are also fewer visits required so the dentist can check on your progress and give you the next set of aligners.

Once the Invisalign treatment is completed, personalized retainers for the upper and lower arches will be created that you wear for a time. As a dentist serving the areas of Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Lawndale, El Segundo, and more, Dr. Gutierrez will specify, to be sure the teeth stay in their new positions long enough to become part of your permanent new smile.

Restorative Dentistry vs. Cosmetic Dentistry

How Does COVID Affect Your Dental Health?

By | General Dentistry

There has been a lot of recent awareness about how periodontal bacteria can impact anyone’s immune system, as the body focuses on fighting that infection, which makes it potentially more vulnerable to other threats. We know that periodontitis also puts one at a significantly higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, among others.

It has been understood from the start that because COVID-19 is fundamentally a respiratory illness it can damage the lungs, making it difficult to breathe, which is a factor in why so many feel extremely fatigued long after they leave the sick bed. More post-recovery complications have ranged from hair loss and depression to strokes and memory loss, according to the Mayo Clinic.

What has been recently noticed, however, is that COVID can affect one’s long-term oral health. How could that be? Many experts now believe that it attacks the blood vessels, disrupting blow flow to the gums, tongue, and teeth (whose core pulp consists of blood vessels and nerves). This can result in decay and pain, with other dental flare-ups long after apparent recovery from the coronavirus.

That makes it imperative for both those who have not (yet) been infected by COVID and those who have suffered from the disease to put extra attention on their oral health. Thoroughly brushing for two minutes after breakfast and after dinner, then flossing before you go to sleep, is the best way to prevent periodontal disease from getting a hold. This will allow the body to keep its limited supply of white blood cells ready for a more serious assault from the virus, rather than having to deal with an oral inflammation.

Of course, at least twice a year (more if you have an ongoing oral health crisis) you need to have our dentist and dental hygienist provide a professional cleaning, using the tools and techniques only she has to reach the areas that are hardest to clean. If your situation needs more help than normal, she can do hand-scaling of the teeth where hardened tartar has built up or inject an antibacterial solution into the gums to keep a periodontal infection from getting worse. 

If Dr. Gutierrez suspects the infection may have entered the jawbone, he will have a full-set of digital x-rays taken (which involve minimal radiation). Keeping your mouth in great health is a major way to prevent illness in general, as well as to help your recovery. You can schedule an appointment with Manhattan Dental Care Studio today, we serve the areas of Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, greater South Bay region, Marina Del Rey, and Los Angeles.

How Dental Sealants Help Protect Against Tooth Decay

By | General Dentistry

An underappreciated, simple, fast, and inexpensive way to protect teeth is to cover them with a dental sealant. This is a thin plastic-based, tooth-colored coating that is most often used for children 6-14, the most cavity-prone years, which is why it is usually covered by insurance. According to WebMD, it is appropriate to use for baby teeth that have deep depressions that would make them vulnerable to cavities or loss, which could cause problems for the spacing of the permanent teeth when they grow in.

It is generally used on the biting surfaces of the back teeth, the molars and premolars, which are the teeth used to grind up and chew foods and often suffer a lot of damage. Sealants prevent food particles from getting into grooves that result from this process, which would otherwise cause cavities and start the process of periodontal infection that could lead to tooth loss.

More adults are also realizing that dental sealants can play an important role in their oral health. Those who grind their teeth at night (a condition known as bruxism) benefit from this protection (and you can ask Dr. Gutierrez about a personalized mouthguard to wear while you sleep to prevent further damage).

The process is pain-free and requires no anesthesia. Your dentist can evaluate your needs or those of your children, cleans the teeth to be treated, an absorbent material is placed around these teeth, an acid solution is used to etch the surface to increase bonding, the teeth are rinsed and dried, then the sealant is painted on. It is hardened with a laser or ultraviolet life.

Dental sealants can protect teeth from cavities and cracking for up to 10 years, but need to be periodically checked and often are recoated every few years. 

Serving the Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Torrance, Marina Del Rey, South Bay, and Los Angeles area, Dr. Gutierrez and his team can assess how much dental sealants can help you and your family keep your smile in excellent shape. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Wisdom Teeth

Preventing Sugar Cravings to Protect Your Dental Health

By | General Dentistry

Everyone learns in childhood that eating too much candy causes cavities, especially if you don’t brush  and floss daily. We might think we eat less candy as adults, but sugar (disguised by various names) can be found  in a surprisingly wide variety of foods, from catsup to canned vegetables.

According to the U.S. Diabetes Council, the average American  consumes over 100 pounds of sugar a year, the highest in the world. But it’s worse than that, because the refined carbohydrates that make up much of the standard diet (including white flour and white rice) are turned into sugar by the body very quickly.

The results include two-thirds of us being overweight, greatly increasing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. While tooth decay continues to be a problem, by the time we are adults, all those sugary foods and beverages that stick to teeth have also led to gum disease. Unless reversed, the infection can result in eventually losing some or all of your teeth.

There are lots of ways to cut back on those sugar cravings, starting with using healthy sugar substitutes in moderation, like xylitol, stevia, erythritol, and mock fruit. Eat more whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans, and legumes, which provide complex carbohydrates that take a long time to digest and keep blood sugar high, deterring hunger and providing energy (unlike eating a candy bar, which produces a quick high, followed by a crash). Proteins and healthy fats (like olive oil) can help, too (while avoiding too much high-fat meat and dairy and all trans-fats found in processed foods). Too much alcohol can also reduce blood sugar, creating cravings. 

To offset temptation, eat a breakfast of oatmeal, eggs, or plain yogurt with honey, putting alternative sweeteners in your coffee: 

  • Eat lots of vegetables, whole grains, lean fish and meats for lunch and dinner.
  • Carry sunflower seeds or almonds for snacks. Read the labels of so-called “nutrition bars” carefully.
  • Add a multivitamin supplement to make sure your body has whatever nutrients it needs and a probiotic to improve digestion and balance of good bacteria in your intestinal system.

But what the brain is really craving isn’t simply junk food, it’s the chemical dopamine that is the body’s “reward” that can be stimulated in an unhealthy by junk food: 

There are other ways to give it that without sweets or overeating:

  • Go for a brisk walk or jog.
  • Take a hot shower.
  • Drink a glass of water.
  • Make sure you get a full amount of refreshing sleep.

And be sure to come in at least twice a year for a dental check-up in Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Marina del Rey, Torrance, or South Bay so that we can make sure your health program is preventing tooth decay and periodontal disease.

How to Care for New Dental Implants

How to Care for New Dental Implants

By | General Dentistry

If you have had dental implants placed, you know how important they are to restoring your oral health.

Too many people are unaware that you can’t simply allow a tooth to fall out or be knocked out and not replace it with an artificial one. If a tooth goes missing, the other teeth nearest to where it was will start to naturally lean towards the new gap. This results in their becoming misaligned, which makes them much harder to properly clean, as food particles get stuck in small spaces between the crooked teeth. Bacteria begins to form on them and this develops into a sticky film where the teeth and the gums around them meet, called plaque. Plaque causes the gums to pull away from the teeth that have already become loosened due to misalignment. Without that support, they soon need to be extracted and the cycle starts all over.

But once you have one or more dental implants placed, you can’t slack off. Yes, they could last 10 or 20 years or more, but only with really good care. It is easy to get a little lazy and think that this once you don’t have to brush for two minutes after breakfast and dinner and not do a thorough job of flossing. You’re busy and tired and how much could it hurt to skip a full effort? But then it’s like not exercising: once you make an excuse, it becomes easier to think one more exception won’t matter much.

You have to remind yourself of what you’ve been through with the inconvenience, pain, and expense of dealing with the first implant (or perhaps several). Dentistry is the one medical specialty which requires the patient to be an active collaborator–there is no pill to take or surgical procedure that prevents tooth decay and periodontal disease. Manhattan Beach dentist, Dr. G. depend on you to help them maintain your optimum oral health.

If you are uncertain about exactly how to brush and floss–it isn’t as easy to do it effectively as you might have been taught when you were younger–ask your dental hygienist to show you. Discuss whether you might get better results from an electric toothbrush or even a water pick. Be sure to get a professional cleaning every three to six months, based on the assessment of your need by the hygienist or dentist. If you have any sign of gum infection, ask the hygienist to use an antibacterial solution and give you a professional-grade periodontal rinse for use at home.

Be sure to have a full set of digital x-rays once a year, so that we can check how well your implants are holding and make sure there is no loss of bone in the jaw, which could loosen them and even require a bone graft, if it progresses too far.

Dental implants are too important to have their care taken for granted. To get the process started, schedule an appointment at Manhattan Dental Care Studio, serving Redondo Beach, Torrance, Marina del Rey, South Bay, Los Angeles, and surrounding areas.