Dry Mouth: Causes and Symptoms | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

Dry mouth can be caused by a natural inability for your glands to produce sufficient saliva, medication, aging issues or as a result of radiation therapy. Dry mouth is a condition in which one’s salivary glands produce an insufficient amount of saliva to keep your mouth wet.

Saliva is important because it naturally prevents tooth decay by neutralizing acids, limits bacterial growth, and washing away food particles throughout the day. It also makes the consumption of food easier as enzymes in the saliva aid in the breakdown of food. While dry mouth is an inconvenience, it can also have a notable impact on your general and oral health.

Dry mouth complications:

– Increased plaque

– Mouth sores

– Tooth decay

– Gum disease

– Sores or split skin around the mouth

Common symptoms:

– Dryness or sticky mouth feel

– Bad breath

– Dry or grooved tongue

– Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing

Due to the variety of causes for dry mouth, it’s important to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor. Your dentist however may be a good resource for suggestions about how to protect your teeth.

At-home remedies:

– Sip water or chew ice chips during the day and during meals

– Chew sugar-free gum

– Over-the-counter saliva substitutes

– Breathe through your nose

– Utilize a humidifier

Dry mouth habits:

  – Consumption of caffeine and alcohol

– The use of tobacco, antihistamines, and decongestants

– Consumption of sugary, acidic, spicy or salty foods

Some suggestions may include a fluoride tray or rinse to prevent cavities. There are also prescription or over-the-counter artificial saliva or moisturizers to lubricate your mouth. These can be effective means of alleviating discomfort in addition to suggestions made by your physician.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Oral Health: Myths and Misconceptions | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

With so much information about oral care practices online, we felt it was important to demystify some of the most common dental myths and misconceptions we hear and offer advice on how to move forward.

Myth 1. Brush Harder To Clean Better

This action is counter-productive, as excess pressure on your teeth can work to damage enamel rather than support it. Hard brushing also hurts our gums and can lead to a recessed gum lining over time. We recommend taking care to brush gently with a soft-bristle brush.

Myth 2. You Can Clean Your Teeth With Gum

Chewing gum is certainly not a replacement for brushing. Chewing gum can be a great way to combat sugar cravings or a candy habit, but while it makes your breath smell better, it cannot replace the benefits of brushing.

Myth 3. Don’t Brush Baby Teeth

Good oral care practices begin when we are young and proper oral care for a child’s first set of teeth matters. Tooth decay in a baby tooth can lead to complications as an adult, so we recommend a twice-daily brushing routine as soon as the child has teeth.

Myth 4. Sugar Equals Cavities

Sugar itself is not the cause of cavities, though the bacteria that eat the sugar can be. The starches and sugar themselves attract bacteria that thrive on the surface of your teeth and release an acidic compound that promotes tooth decay. Regular brushing and rinsing after eating particular sugary foods will go a long way toward preventing decay.

Myth 5. Sensitivity Means Enamel Loss

We may experience sensitivity for many reasons, and enamel loss doesn’t happen overnight. Tooth grinding, abrasive toothpaste, aggressive brushing, and lack of regular proper oral hygiene all contribute to both sensitivity and a loss of enamel. Should you lose your enamel, however, you will likely experience tooth sensitivity as well.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Enhance Your Smile With These Oral Care Accessories | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

In the ever-evolving technological age, there are a number of ways you can enhance the hygiene and aesthetic of your smile. There are also a number of gadgets on the market specifically designed to fill whatever gaps you feel are present as you strive to enhance your smile. These means essentially fall into two categories; hygienic and aesthetic. Of course, a well-rounded oral care routine is the first step towards attaining the smile you want, but if your hygiene is quite good, and you still aren’t seeing the results you want, aesthetic additions may do the trick.

Hygienic

Electric Toothbrushes: Do you even complete your two-minute scrub and think “My teeth don’t feel very clean”? It may be because the traditional toothbrush just isn’t cutting it anymore. Electric toothbrushes have gained popularity because they are designed to provide brush strokes that work to give you a better clean in the same amount of time. It can go a long way to providing the basic care your teeth need.

Flossers: There are so many ways to floss available for your choosing. Traditional waxed or unwaxed threads are no longer the only option. Water flossers and plush threads are great alternatives (if not better alternatives) to the floss we commonly associate with.

Tongue Scraper: While there is no definitive rule that these need to be employed in your care routine, the benefit of incorporating one is the added removal of potentially harmful bacteria. Tongue scraping removes the same bacteria that feed on the sugars left between the teeth after a meal from the surface of the tongue, improving overall hygiene.

Aesthetic

At-Home Aligners: At-home aligners are an easy, effective means of straightening out your teeth for an enhanced aesthetic. While they aren’t meant for everyone, and you should speak with your dentist prior to incorporating at-home aligners into your oral care practices, they can gently move your teeth into their proper position and enhance your smile.

Whitening Trays: These work similarly to the teeth aligners mentioned above. Instead of working to straighten your teeth however, you simply mold the trey to your teeth, brush on the included whitening solution to the inside of the tray and allow it to rest on your teeth for the prescribed amount of time. Kits are easily accessible and when done properly can make your smile a few shades whiter.

UV Light: This is another means of enhancing the color and brightness of your teeth. Typically, when you employ a UV light, you first brush on the whitening solution and allow the light to rest on that set of teeth for a number of minutes. The solution and the light combination work to enhance your smile and can potentially do so up to a few shades whiter.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Top Tips To Avoid Staining Your Teeth | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

If you look at your teeth in the mirror and aren’t thrilled with what you see, your teeth may be stained as a result of the foods and beverages you consume. There is nothing wrong with consuming dark foods and beverages, of course, but if you find your smile has become dull or yellow, it may be time to evaluate the habits that surround our consumption of them.

Common culprits of staining are red wine, dark sodas, and coffee, three beverages casually consumed by the average person. Thankfully, however, there are ways you can mitigate dental staining with some common and easily applied practices.

Try A New Brushing Method:

Brushing your teeth 30 minutes after consuming these beverages may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s better than brushing immediately after. Coffee, soda, and wine are acidic, meaning they weaken your enamel. When we brush immediately after, we are being abrasive against an already weakened barrier causing it to weaken further. Brushing some time after consumption helps retain your enamel and will help prevent staining.

Other Ways You Can Avoid Staining:

Otherwise, you can floss, employ whitening powders or pastes, and maintain regular dental visits to keep teeth stains at bay. If you are interested in incorporating health practices into your life that also help reduce the risk of staining, cutting back on your consumption of dark sodas, red wine and coffee will go a long way to achieve that goal. You can also try at-home whitening strips, trays, or UV light whitening devices that may help you get up to two shades of whiter teeth.

If your teeth are already stained, and at-home methods aren’t working to mitigate the appearance of dull or yellow teeth, that’s where a cosmetic dentist can help. In-office whitening is more powerful than at-home treatments, and when professionally executed may go further than DIY methods.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

What Is Tarter Buildup and How To Avoid It | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

The buildup of plaque that hardens on your teeth is known as tartar. When plaque isn’t removed properly from your hygienic routine, that’s when the soft, removable plaque can turn into tartar which may require a more intense means of removal.

If you are employing a thorough routine of proper brushing and flossing, you should be able to avoid tartar buildup. Yet, it’s still important to understand the signs and symptoms, so that if you do recognize it’s happening, you can consult your dentist sooner than later. Tarter is a buildup of minerals that if above the gum line, is fairly easy to spot. If you notice yellow or brown-colored stains on the teeth or gums, it may be tartar.

Your dentist or hygienist may employ a method called scaling in which he or she uses special instruments to remove the tartar from around the gum line and bottom of the tooth pocket.

The only real way to know, however, is to consult your dentist, and they can remove it for you. If it gets really bad, you may experience bad breath, darker staining, loose teeth, and red, swollen, or bleeding gums.

While tartar buildup can happen, there are ways your can mitigate your risk. Tartar control toothpaste and rinses can help eliminate stubborn plaque to help prevent tarter together. Regular visits with your dentist and flossing also go a long way in helping ensure a thorough oral care routine and minimize the risk of tartar buildup.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Wisdom Tooth Surgery and Aftercare | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

The removal of one’s wisdom teeth is often a dreaded moment, but for most people, it is absolutely necessary to avoid overcrowding. Whether you choose to be sedated for the surgery or go with nitrous oxide, the first 72 hours after surgery are imperative to your recovery and avoiding issues down the road.

Once the procedure is over, your surgeon will place gauze on the surgery site to absorb the blood. They will send you home with extra you can replace the gauze as needed at home, helping to keep the area clean and dry. Once the bleeding has stopped, you can place a moist tea bag on the site to help prevent clotting. You will also want to keep your head elevated, this will help keep the swelling and further bleeding down. Compresses also work well to help keep the swelling down. Apply a cold compress, then a warm one on rotation to the external surgery site every 20 minutes for the first 48 hours. It will help reduce pain and swelling.

After that, your focus should switch to keeping the surgery site as clean as possible as the soft tissue continues to heal. Rinse your mouth with warm or saltwater throughout the day and especially after meals. Your dentist may give you a syringe to squirt water directly onto the surgery site to clear any debris. Swish utilize the syringe carefully, you don’t want to disturb your stitches. If food is left stuck in the soft tissue cavity and stays there as the tissue heals, that debris is likely to become infected over time, requiring another surgery to remove it.

Your dentist will give you all kinds of tips and tricks to help you heal properly, but some of the most important ones to remember are not to use straws as the suction can induce bleeding. Don’t use tobacco because it will hinder the healing process, and don’t engage in strenuous activity as an increased heart rate will increase blood flow and the possibility your surgery site will bleed.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Tips for How to Care for Porcelain Veneers | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

Porcelain veneers are one of the most common cosmetic dentistry procedures people seek for their smiles. The longevity of your veneers can vary depending on how they are cared for. To get the most out of your veneers, here are some best practices for maintaining them for years to come.

Good Oral Hygiene- Maintaining good oral hygiene such as regular brushing, flossing and incorporating a mouthwash is great for your natural teeth and veneers. Veneers are placed along the gemlike to retain the appearance of being natural, so it’s important to keep your oral hygiene up to avoid a receding gemlike that may expose the veneer.

Avoid Unnecessary Force- Nail biting, chewing ice and forceful brushing can break or dislodge a veneer; they can also be the reason your dentist recommended veneers to begin with. It’s important to make an effort to avoid these habits for the longevity of your veneers.

Stop Clenching and Grinding- This bad habit is a great way to chip or break your veneers over time. Bruxism, or the grinding of teeth at night, can be avoided by incorporating a night guard when you sleep. Reducing stress or finding alternative means to clenching your teeth will also go a long way in maintaining your new pearly whites.

Limit Staining- Porcelain is a material that resists stains, but the dental cement used to keep them in place unfortunately is not. Coffee, tobacco, wine and any other food and beverage that may stain your teeth will stain the cement over time. Eventually, if not properly cared for along the way, the cement will become discolored and look odd against your veneers – or even start to make your veneers look discolored by association.

If you would like more information on veneers or how to care for them, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Dental X-Rays and You | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

Getting your x-rays taken at the dentist is an essential part of their ability to evaluate the way your teeth are situated and move over time. These images tell dentists and hygienists a lot about how to best care for your oral health. X-rays however, use radiation in order to capture these images, and it may cause you to be hesitant about having them taken. That is understandable, so we think it’s important to share a bit more about x-rays so you can feel more at ease the next time your dentist wants to see what’s going on.

What to know

X-rays are generally considered to be a safe, effective means for dentists to understand your unique oral structure and health. Dentists will take four different types of x-rays; bitewing, occlusal, panoramic, and periodical. Each of these focuses on a different aspect of your teeth and bite. The bitewing will show how well your teeth align and may also show cavity development. Occlusal x-rays capture all your teeth in a single image and can help detect abnormalities in the anatomy of your mouth or palate. It can be uncomfortable to have these images taken, as the tab you bite down on isn’t made to contour to your mouth, but the momentary discomfort passes quickly.

Panoramic images let dentists check your wisdom teeth, jaw, and any implants you may have. Panoramic images show the entire tooth from root to crown around the jawline. The execution of this x-ray is different than those mentioned above. Your dentist will have you stand and help fix your head into position for the x-ray to rotate around your jawline to produce the image.

Purpose

The purpose of a radiograph, or x-ray, is to analyze oral health. They capture what is happening on the interior of your teeth and gums. Images allow dentists and orthodontists to evaluate positioning, decay, and impact of the teeth. They are also used to track the progression of growing teeth in children and the progress of any treatment you may undergo. Whenever you enter a new practice without existing or current imagery your dentist will take them for your file with their practice.

Safety

While there is no official preparation to receive an x-ray, there are measures dentists take to ensure your safety and theirs. Whoever takes your x-rays will outfit you with a lead vest to protect your internal organs and other essential body parts from radiation exposure. It effectively blocks the radiation from your person without hindering the ability to produce an image.

You need an initial, and ongoing x-rays throughout your life to ensure the overall well-being of your teeth and jaw are properly monitored and maintained. Your teeth naturally shift over time, so while x-rays may induce anxiety or be uncomfortable, they are harmless and should be considered an essential part of your oral care.

If you would like more information on teeth whitening, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

What You Should Know About Fluoride | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

Fluoride has long split public opinion. Proponents advocate for its ability to keep cavities and tooth decay from wreaking havoc on your oral health. Opponents point to its discovery in the public water supply and consider it a harmful neurotoxin. Dentists are consistent proponents of fluoride for their patient’s oral health and utilize it during regular cleanings. Whether someone chooses to opt out of it at home is their prerogative, but if they don’t want it used during their dental visit, it’s important to discuss your concerns with your hygienist.

Too much fluoride, like anything, can cause dental fluorosis which can change the color of your enamel and specifically impact children ages eight years of age and younger. According to smiledentalcenterct.com, however, “research has shown that by adding fluoride to public water supplies, tooth decay-related conditions decline by 25 percent among adults and children.” Meaning two dental visits a year and drinking community water isn’t likely to cause harm. Though, it’s not recommended to give children fluoride toothpaste, as their risk of swallowing it is high. Once your child develops the motor skills to brush his or her teeth, and spit properly, they can begin using fluoride toothpaste at your discretion or the advice of their dentist.

It’s important to note, however, that your dentist may dissuade the use of fluoride toothpaste if you are allergic to it, or feel strongly about your concerns regarding the safety of its use. Fluoride-free formulas offer the same cleaning power and are recommended over not using toothpaste; the difference is that on average, fluoride formulas reduce the number of cavities and occurrence of tooth decay one may experience over their lifetime.

In general, trace amounts of fluoride in the drinking water work to improve the oral health of our communities and the use of fluoride toothpaste is safe for adults. The decision to use fluoride toothpaste lies with the individual, but he or she may need to take extra steps such as mouthwash and flossing to ensure they or receive the cavity-fighting benefits normally provided by fluoride formulas.

If you would like more information on teeth whitening, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Are You Looking to Whiten Your Smile? | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

In-office treatments. Not only can we give your teeth a deep cleaning, but teeth whitening can help you achieve a beautifully white smile by bleaching your teeth and removing any deep stains that cannot be removed by brushing or hygiene appointments.

DIY whitening. In addition to in-office power whitening treatments, we also offer professional home bleaching kits. We custom fabricate whitening trays to fit over your teeth and then supply you with a professional-grade teeth whitening solution to carry out the whitening procedure in the comfort of your own home. The home bleaching delivers results over a longer time period. Many of our patients choose combination treatment with in-office whitening, followed by the home bleaching in order for you to maintain the beautiful smile as a result.

If you are looking for a more natural way to whiten your teeth, there are a few ways you can with things you have around the house.

The version most people are used to hearing about is a hydrogen peroxide and baking soda paste. You can find a lot of toothpastes with these ingredients, but if you want to do it DIY style, just drop a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into a little bit of baking soda makes a paste.

Diluting some apple cider vinegar in your pantry with some water (3 parts water, 1 part vinegar) and mixing it with an all-natural toothpaste makes a pretty efficient tooth whitening solution. Swishing coconut oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes also helps dingy teeth. But did you also know that you can turn it into a paste? Heat a cup of coconut oil, add two teaspoons of baking soda & five to ten drops of natural spearmint essential oil.

If you would like more information on teeth whitening, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.