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General Dentistry

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.

Veneers Game Changer

Why Veneers Are a Life-Changer

By | General Dentistry

The odds are, you will never be known worldwide for your gleaming smile. On the other hand, you could learn a trick from the likes of George Clooney, Demi Moore, Tom Cruise, and Hilary Duff about how to get  a Hollywood smile at a non-celebrity price. All of them upgraded the imperfect set of teeth they were born with by simply having customized veneers pasted on the fronts of those that needed some help.

Veneers are thin pieces of strong dental porcelain that look just like natural teeth, personalized with the same shade of white as the neighboring ones not receiving this relatively simple and cost-effective cosmetic treatment. Or you can choose to have all the teeth that show, even if they are not damaged, given another shade by the top dental lab we work with that crafts them according to your exact preferences.

This could change your life in some surprising ways. We like to think we are always making rational decisions based on data, that we would not make snap judgments about people we don’t really know. Yet studies show that when people meet each other for the first time, almost all of them have instantaneous reactions about what they believe the others are like. And much of that has to do with a nice, friendly smile. That includes job interviews, first dates, negotiations between companies, court appearances, introductions on the street or in stores, at church or synagogue, and other situations.

At such an important moment, you might not be thinking about whether your teeth look stained, crooked, or chipped.  But those conditions could lead someone to believe that you don’t care about personal appearance or take care of your health. Or if you don’t smile out of embarrassment, that could make you seem unfriendly.

It is easy enough to brush right after drinking coffee, tea, red wine and other beverages and foods that cause discoloration, then use over-the-counter whitening or even a stronger one at the dental office. But some staining is very hard to avoid and remove, such as from medications and smoking, while root canal problems can make a tooth appear dark or yellow. Veneers can also cover gaps between teeth, change the appearance of those that are a bit crooked, and fix teeth that are misshapen, too small or too large compared with neighboring teeth. 

Call for an appointment today to have your cosmetic dentistry options assessed with a future that starts with a more beautiful smile thanks to veneers. Our practice serves Marina del Rey, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, South Bay, and surrounding areas.

Regular Teeth Cleanings

Why You Should Have Regular Teeth Cleanings

By | General Dentistry

You no doubt feel you do a pretty good job of brushing and flossing. But have you recently had an expert like your dentist or dental hygienist check the results? It isn’t enough that you may have had no cavities for a long while. Even if you are cleaning your teeth exactly like you should (and it may be harder than you realize), as we age and have busy lives, it is all too easy to fall a little short, allowing periodontal infection to gain a hold in the gums and then the jaw.

The problem starts with not scraping off the remainders of food 100%. That results in a sticky clear film developing from the bacteria on the remainder, called plaque. This hardens into yellow tartar and the process begins that can separate a tooth from the gums that support it in place. If not stopped immediately by your dental team, this can lead to the tooth either falling out or needing to be extracted. Once a tooth is missing, the others near it will naturally lean towards the gap, resulting in their also becoming loose. If the process continues, it could lead to requiring many dental implants or dentures.

The way to avoid this happening is to see your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and a professional cleaning. This starts with a probe to see whether the areas around each tooth are healthy. Anything that measures 4 or higher means it needs special attention and even if you have been attentive to your oral health, you may be surprised at how many problem areas there are.

The hygienist will scrape off any tartar and plaque, thoroughly floss below the gum line around all teeth, and may recommend an antimicrobial solution, gel, or pellets be applied where there is trouble. If there is concern that an infection may have reached the jawbone, a digital x-ray (with very low radiation) will be ordered to find out.

While you are in the chair, ask the hygienist to show you exactly how to brush and floss. Brushing with a soft bristle brush should be done after breakfast and dinner for two minutes each time. The stroke should be from the gum line towards the opening of the mouth on both outside and inside surfaces, then on the tops of the molars at the back. Flossing after dinner should start below the gum line and firmly scrape both sides between teeth. If bleeding occurs, it means some infection has started. You will be advised when to come back to check your progress.

Good oral health also lowers your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, so make an appointment for a professional cleaning today, whether you live in South Bay, Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, Torrance, Redondo Beach, or surrounding areas.

prepare for root canal

Five Things You Can Do to Prepare for a Root Canal

By | General Dentistry

When you first hear that you need to have a root canal, you will most likely begin to fear the worst. After all, the procedure has developed quite a bad rap for itself over the years. However, as long as you follow your dentist’s instructions and adequately prepare for your root canal, the entire event should run fairly smoothly.

To prepare for your root canal, you will need to do the following five things:

1) Take your antibiotics

Before your root canal, your dentist may prescribe a course of antibiotics to minimize your risk of infection. Aside from reducing your risk of infection, these antibiotics will also help you to deal with any pain or swelling that may occur as a result of your procedure. As with all antibiotics, you will need to ensure that you complete the course to avoid resistance and completely clear out any infections.

2) Avoid alcohol and tobacco for at least 24 hours before your treatment

When you go in for your root canal, the dentist will inject your gum with a local anesthetic to enable them to work on you without causing any major discomfort. Alcohol and tobacco contain toxins and compounds which may react with the anesthetic and result in adverse effects. To prevent this, you should avoid both of these products for at least 24 hours before your procedure.

3) Eat something

Ensure that you eat a full meal shortly before your procedure. The local anesthetic that your dentist will inject you with will numb your jaw for a few hours, making it pretty much impossible for you to eat immediately after your root canal. You are also likely to experience some tooth sensitivity immediately after your procedure, which will make it tough to chew.

4) Get enough sleep

To make it as easy as possible for your body to recover from your root canal treatment, you will want to get plenty of sleep both before and after your procedure. Aim to get at least eight hours each night.

5) Talk to your dentist

Have a sit down with your dentist a few days before the procedure in order to discuss any concerns you might have. Ensure you ask questions about what the procedure will entail, any medications you should take and what your treatment plan should look like. In addition, you should inform the doctor about any underlying medical problems you might have so they can advise you accordingly.

In Closing

Root canals can certainly seem a little frightening at first. However, by following the advice contained in this article, you can ensure that your procedure is as smooth and pain-free as possible.

Schedule your root canal appointment today. Our practice serves the Los Angeles metro area, including Torrance, Marina del Rey, South Bay, Redondo Beach, and surrounding cities.

Woman with bright smile

Regular Dental Check-Ups Go Beyond Teeth Cleanings

By | General Dentistry

A third of American adults do not see a dentist regularly, the biggest reasons being fear of bad news and of pain during the checkup. But without going twice a year to get an expert assessment of your oral health, minor irritations can become very serious threats. And Manhattan Dental Care Studio makes any visit a painless way to catch dental challenges early when they are easy and inexpensive to correct.

Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach dentists, Dr. G and Dr. Z. and their team have spent nearly four decades educating our patients on how to prevent cavities and periodontal disease (infection of the gums and jawbone).

If you are not certain exactly how to brush at the right angles for the proper time and to use floss so that any plaque is cleaned off before it can harden into tartar, ask your dental hygienist to demonstrate. Everyone needs to have a basic cleaning twice yearly with the special tools and techniques that go beyond what you can do at home. If your hygienist detects a spreading infection, your dentist will probe the depth of the gum pockets around teeth. He may advise a deeper cleaning that will remove bacteria below the gum line and flush them out with an antibacterial solution.

What are some other issues your dental team can address during a check-up?

  • Advise whether fillings need to be replaced.
  • Determine if your overall oral health would be improved by correcting crooked teeth with Invisalign aligner trays.
  • Find out if you would have more confidence in your smile if your teeth were professionally whitened or chips and gaps covered by veneers.
  • Note symptoms of dry mouth, the lack of an adequate amount of saliva, which can be a side-effect of many medications to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies, colds, obesity, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, and other health issues. Dry mouth raises the risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Look for signs that you are grinding your teeth down while you sleep, so that a customized mouth guard can be created to wear at night.
  • Check on whether you are suffering from TMJ aka TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). Among many possible symptoms: a popping sound when you open and close your mouth wide; pain in the jaw joint, face, neck or shoulders; swelling on the side of your face; or an uncomfortable bite.
  • Look for signs of oral cancer.

For other issues of oral health that can be checked during your regular visit, read WebMD’s discussion of everything from cold sores to chronic bad breath: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/oral-health-symptoms-types. Then schedule your dental check-up, whether you live in Torrance, Marina del Rey, South Bay, Redondo Beach, or elsewhere in the Los Angeles metro area.

Reasons to Use Invisalign

Getting Teeth Whitening with Veneers, Crowns, or Implants

By | General Dentistry

Whitening of teeth is America’s No. 1 choice for making a smile gleam again, adding a boost to everyday confidence.

Teeth get easily stained by coffee, tea, red wine, other dark-colored liquids and some foods. You can minimize this by brushing right afterwards, but if surface stains build up, it’s time to see your dentist for a professional cleaning.

In a single teeth whitening session, Manhattan Dental Care Studio can remove as many as eight shapes of discoloration and this is much more effective than trying to remove surface stains by using whitening toothpaste or drugstore strips.

However, it’s not permanent and it’s not for everyone. If you already have a dental veneer, crown, or implant, you need to consult us about the best ways to make sure your smile presents an evenly white and bright appearance.

If these were placed by another dental practice, they might be made of cheap materials that could become discolored, but if you try to whiten them at home they are likely to get scratched, making them more susceptible to darkening. Over-the-counter gels can even harm your gums.

If they are of high quality, they are unlikely to be affected, but if you whiten your natural teeth too much, they may no longer match the cosmetic restorations. That’s why you and your dentist need to strategize about the best way to maintain your best smile.

An even better idea than periodically having your natural teeth whitened at our office is to consider having their appearance enhanced by veneers, crowns, or dental implants. If you already have these cosmetic restorations, you should consider upgrading them to match your current preference for the overall whiteness of your smile.

Veneers are the most popular and affordable way to cover unsightly, cracked, chipped, misshapen, or misaligned teeth and close any gaps between them. Made of translucent dental porcelain, they can be easily placed on the front of your teeth and last with proper care over 10 years. They can be crafted to appear so natural that no one would know you weren’t born with them.  You can see how much of a difference they can make in our before-and-after photos.

Esthetic crowns can be placed on top of teeth that have been worn down and be shade-matched to the adjacent ones. We can design your new smile together and change the original size, shape, and appearance to your ideal, working with a master cosmetic dental laboratory.

Dental implants are the most sophisticated way to not only replace lost or loose teeth but take years off your appearance. Unlike dentures, they can also slow bone loss due to periodontal infection and the aging process, allow you to chew and speak as if you had all your original teeth, and with good dental habits, be a permanent solution.

Give us a call today for a consultation on all your cosmetic and oral health goals. We offer teeth whitening for patients in Redondo Beach, Marina del Rey, Torrance, South Bay, and across the Los Angeles metro area.

Reducing the Chance of Dental Cavities

Reducing the Chances of Cavities in Your Child’s Smile

By | General Dentistry

Your child can benefit from having an early preventive plan to maintain their oral health as they approach their adolescent and adult years. Good practices and habits early on can result in rewarding outcomes for the future appearance and health of their smile. These habits start from establishing regular oral hygiene routines and making regular check-up appointments with the dentist. In addition, provide them with the education they will need for the prevention of problems that can affect their long-term health.

Here are several tips you can apply to help your child prevent cavities and keep their teeth and gums in good shape.

Establish Good Brushing and Flossing Habits

This means brushing a minimum of two times per day and flossing daily. These consistent routines can be some of the most rewarding ways staving off cavities and gum disease through childhood.

Minimize Intake of Sugar, Starch, and Carbohydrates

Early signs of plaque can accelerate when children consume large quantities of goods containing sugar, starch, and carbohydrates. Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet that includes fruits, grains, vegetables, lean protein foods, and dairy products is ideal for healthy teeth development and growth.

Twice Per Year Dental Visits

A routine dental exam and professional teeth cleaning can help locate any issues early and clean areas that are difficult to reach with a standard toothbrush.

Use Dental Sealants

A popular form of treatment for children, dental sealants offer additional layers of protection for the back teeth, which can be particularly vulnerable to bacteria that cause decay. In addition, you can use topical fluoride treatments to help strengthen the teeth and further reduce the risks of decay.

Dr. Gutierrez offers multiple family dental care options and preventative solutions to ensure the best experience at Manhattan Dental Care Studio. We service the areas of Redondo Beach, Hawthorne, Torrance, Lawndale, and more. For additional information or to schedule an exam, contact us today.