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All Posts in Category: Dental Care

How Dental Visits can Help with Gum Disease Prevention

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Other than having had cavities taken care of by the family dentist, most people grow up with little awareness about the importance of good oral care habits. A third of American adults don’t see a dentist each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and half of all Americans suffer from periodontal disease aka periodontitis.

Periodontal disease is the gum infection that results from inadequate oral hygiene. The right way to do it is to use a soft brush for two minutes twice a day, stroking from the gum line towards the end of the tooth. Flossing needs to be done at the end of the day, carefully holding the string against each side of every tooth. If food and beverage particles are left, a sticky bacterial forms on them and an infection at the gum line begins to peel  away the support of the gums for the tooth.

Without an improvement in oral care, this will ultimately lead to teeth becoming loose and either falling out or needing to be extracted. Some 69% of Americans 35-44 have lost at least one tooth, while 70% of those 75 or older have no teeth.

But even the most dedicated brushers and flossers can’t do the type of cleaning that a dental hygienist can. She has the tools and techniques that enable her to reach difficult areas , scraping off the plaque (aka tartar when it hardens) and injecting antibacterial solutions as needed. This should be done at least twice a year.

Another reason to come into our office at least twice a year is for a full dental exam, including a digital x-ray at least once a year, which is the only way to determine whether a periodontal infection has reached the jawbone. If so, it needs to not only be surgically removed, a bone graft will probably be necessary to make it possible for a dental implant to be done, if a tooth is so loose it needs to be extracted.

Making sure periodontal bacteria are not out of control is also important because this would otherwise raise the risk for having diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. 

Dr. Louie can also look for signs of oral cancer and make sure there are no other dental problems developing. Can for an appointment today before minor problems develop into crises.

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Without Treatment, Chipped Teeth can Lead to Tooth Decay

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A chipped tooth needs to be examined and treated quickly to avoid it becoming a bigger problem. A mere hairline crack in the outer protective layer of enamel due to an accident can expose the more vulnerable inner layers and the tooth could become decayed or even result in a dead root and the need for root canal therapy.

Chipping can occur from a wide variety of causes: an car or bike crash, a fall, a blow to the face playing sports, chewing on a pen, pulling off clothes with your teeth, munching on ice, tearing at jerky, eating nuts, hard candy, bones, nuts, hard breads like pretzels, corn on the cob, popcorn with unpopped kernels, or fruits and vegetables with pits.  

If the chip is painful and sensitive, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers until you come into our office. If there is any bleeding, put a cold pack on and off every 15 minutes for a couple of hours to prevent swelling, and rinse your mouth with salt water to reduce the risk of infection. Eat soft foods and avoid chewing in the area of the injured tooth. Dentemp is a product available at most drug stores to temporarily treat a chipped tooth.

Once Dr. Louie has examined the tooth he will recommend the appropriate solution. If the chip is relatively minor, he may feel that it can be covered and the tooth strengthened by placing a veneer on the front, a very thin piece of biocompatible dental porcelain. This can be exactly matched to the shade of the neighboring teeth so no one will know it was ever harmed. He will use our iTero scanner to create a 3D image of the area to be treated and send this to a top dental lab to craft the veneer. On a second visit, the veneer will be fitted and attached.

If the chip is more of a crack that could endanger the health of the entire tooth, Dr. Louie may feel that it is better to cover it with a crown, a cap to hold it together that also is made to appear exactly like one of your natural teeth.

If you are concerned about any current or potential dental issues, call to sent an appointment for a thorough exam to explore your best options for creating the perfect smile.

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Fighting Coffee Stains on Your Teeth

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Staying home a lot more in the past couple of years made it easy to sip on coffee all day. Now that we’re all out and about again, we realize that this has resulted in very stained teeth and trying to use over-the-counter whitening toothpastes, gels, strips, pens, or trays is not very effective. Los Angeles dentist, Dr. Shervin Louie, can help you get back that gleaming smile.

But first, you need to understand how stains occur. Enamel, the hard outer layer of teeth, resists stains when it is smooth, but if you have a dry mouth, due to lack of protective saliva or as a side-effect of medications, enamel can begin to erode. Acid reflux can also harm it, as can drinking acid drinks, like sodas. You can counter these by drinking more water (especially after sodas), using an oral rinse for dry mouth, chewing sugar-free gum that stimulates saliva, and reducing the amount of spicy and salty food you consume.

Enamel can also be weakened by periodontal bacteria, which are sticky and capture dark pigments, so it is also important to be diligent about brushing for two minutes after breakfast and dinner and flossing after your last snack each and every day. If you have had dental work, such as veneers, crowns, and fillings, pay attention to the edges, which may be rough and more vulnerable to coffee and other staining agents (like tea, red wine, blueberries, and tomatoes). You may need to ask Dr. Louie to smooth those areas. Also have your dental hygienist do a professional cleaning twice a year.

 

 

An electric toothbrush can smooth rough surfaces, and some toothpastes may be helpful, especially those with fluoride, the amino acid arginine, amorphous calcium phosphate, or nanohydroxyapatite. 

You can also upgrade the shade of your teeth by having Dr. Louie provide a professional whitening, which involves relaxing in a dental chair and listening to music or watching a video for an hour while a dental bleach is applied to the teeth and activated with a special light, while up to eight shades of darkening are removed. It is advisable to do this once a year to maintain a gleaming smile and it is helpful to use a professional grade whitening kit we provide at home for touch-ups in between.

For really tough cases, where whitening products and processes do not reach your goals, dental veneers applied to the front of teeth can solve the problem. 

Set an appointment today for a full dental exam to find out what your best options are for a smile that will make you proud to flash fully every time you meet others, letting them know how truly friendly you are.

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Dental Problems Can Make You Look More Aged

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Having a bright and healthy full smile has always been considered a sign of youthfulness, no matter your actual age.

Unfortunately, most people don’t keep up good dental habits and the negative impact accumulates over time. Ultimately, unless a dentist intervenes, many lose their teeth and end up wearing full dentures, which not only do not allow optimum chewing and clear speaking, but do not provide the support for the facial muscles, making these individuals look older than they really are.

The roots of these problems go back to the fact that few of us grew up being taught just how important oral health was. The prevention of cavities was emphasized, which wasn’t too hard to do with even basic brushing and flossing (though dental caries, as they are technically known, are still the second most common disease, next to the even more common cold).

But even most American adults don’t fully recognize the danger of periodontal bacteria–the sticky film that develops around food particles that are not completely cleaned off each day. Allowed to flourish, the infected gums eventually pull away their support for teeth. Once a single tooth is missing, the others nearby naturally lean in to fill the gap, causing a chain reaction that leads to them also becoming loose. Some 69% of Americans aged 35-44 have already lost at least one tooth and by 75 or older, 26% have no teeth left.

Fortunately, Dr. Shervin Louie and his team are recognized leaders in keeping patients healthy and looking youthful when they smile. It is never too late to learn how to prevent the loss of further teeth and to replace them so that no one will know that you did not always look so vital. 

Step one is to be sure you brush for two full minutes after breakfast and dinner, then floss thoroughly before bedtime. If you aren’t sure of the exact technique, ask your dental hygienist to show you.

Second, if you continue to have cavities and gum disease, come in for a professional cleaning more often, since your hygienist has special tools and techniques that will remove even hardened tartar (which is what plaque becomes when it is not cleaned off effectively). Ask for advice on whether a water pik, a small brush for cleaning tight spaces, or a dentist-grade mouthwash would help.

Third, be sure to have a full examination by Dr. Louie twice a year, including a digital x-ray (which involves minimal radiation and can reveal the health state of the jawbone, catching infections there before the teeth that are rooted in it are undermined).

In the event you do lose some teeth, we can provide dental implants that are a perfect match for the ones you still have, so that no one will ever know some were once missing. And best of all, implants stop the erosion of the jawbone, while dentures have to be adjusted about every five years because bone continues to be lost. 

Set an appointment today to find out your best options to keep your face looking youthful.

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Educating Your Children About Good Dental Habits

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Did you know that around 30% of kids aged 5-6 have already started experiencing tooth decay? This is proof that it has never been a better time to begin educating your children about good dental habits. We all know just how hard it can be to get your kids to do the essential things that keep them healthy.

Such as eating their vegetables, going to bed early, and practicing good dental habits. However, it is so important to teach your children good oral hygiene to prevent future issues such as tooth loss. Otherwise, they may deal with gum disease, overcrowding from tooth loss, cavities, and infections.

Here are some simple ways to make dental hygiene fun for your little ones. 

Be a Good Role Model

The reality of it is that good dental habits and oral care begins with you. If this is an area of your life that you neglect, your child will too. However, if they see you flossing and brushing every single day, they will want to follow in your footsteps.

Kids love to mimic everything they see you do. So, if they think you’re having fun or doing something cool, you will soon see them doing the exact same.

Turn It into a Fun Song

You can find thousands of fun songs and dances on the internet these days. All you need to do is open up Google and search “toothbrush song” or “brushing teeth song” and you will find hundreds of videos to help you out. 

This exercise helps to turn dental hygiene into a fun and uplifting experience. 

Make a Game of It

One of the best ways to teach your kids about great oral care is to turn it into an engaging game. Try to get them to brush their doll’s teeth while you brush theirs. Or you can get them to brush yours until all of your teeth are clean.

They will have far more fun and turn it into a positive experience. 

Find an Amazing Family-Friendly Dentist

It is incredibly important to find an amazing family-friendly dentist who makes your kids feel comfortable, welcome, and entertained throughout their dental care and procedures. The environment should be bright, full of toys, and engaging.

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6 Reasons Tooth-Colored Fillings Can Be Valuable

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Having a cavity (aka dental caries) is second only to the common cold in frequency among all diseases. Yes, it is a disease, although when we were growing up we only thought of it as a pain when we ate too much candy and didn’t brush our teeth enough. Even small ones need immediate attention and you should be checking regularly to see if you see the telltale spot before you start feeling it and it’s more costly to have it removed to keep it from spreading.

Now there is even a cosmetic alternative to having a filling of ugly amalgam silver that everyone might see if you just grin, laugh, yawn, or talk. It takes away from  the beauty of your smile, but the new tooth-colored composite resin filling is a biocompatible plastic that can be shaded so it looks like part of your natural tooth.

Second, it probably has mercury in it, like inexpensive amalgam fillings used to have. While the American Dental Association does not believe it is a toxic amount, conventional wisdom in any field is often far behind the ultimate proof of a problem. It is better to be safe than sorry and have it removed in the proper way and replaced with the new resin.

Third, you need strong fillings to keep protecting teeth that once had cavities. No filling lasts forever and they need to be carefully examined by your cosmetic dentist regularly to see if they have been damaged by unconsciously grinding your teeth while you sleep, chewing on pens, ice, or hard foods that can even dislodge them, or just normal wear and tear. Since the new resins last 3-10 years with good dental hygiene, older ones almost certainly need to be checked for replacement to keep teeth healthy. Otherwise, bacteria can cause new cavities.

Fourth, tooth-colored fillings do not require as much of the healthy structure of the tooth to be removed  as the amalgam ones did or even the expensive gold ones do now.

Fifth, they do not stain easily. You still need to brush twice a day for two minutes to keep them as white as possible, drink water and brush soon after consuming coffee, tea, or red wine, and have them cleaned by a dental hygienist twice a year.

Sixth, they are the least expensive and quickest solution to cavities. After the numbing takes effect, it typically only takes 15 minutes to replace or put in a resin filling.

Call today to set up a full dental examination so that you know the state of your oral health, including whether you have old fillings or new cavities that need attention.

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How the iTero Scanner can Improve Your Dental Treatment

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If you’ve ever had a physical mold impression made for a dental procedure, such as an Invisalign orthodontic tray, dental crowns, or implants, you know it’s a messy and sometimes uncomfortable process. Then you have to wait a couple of weeks before a dental lab can craft the final item for your dentist to place. But Dr. Shervin Louie has revolutionary technology that makes all that unnecessary: the iTero advanced intraoral scanner.

Introduced in 2007 and constantly improved, the high-tech iTero is still not common among dental practices. What it produces is a highly-accurate 3-D image of the inside of your mouth that allows Dr. Louie to be able to plan treatment with much more knowledge than most other dentists have when they start.

A small scanning wand is gently moved around the patient’s mouth taking 6,000 frames a second for a few minutes. The images are projected onto a screen so that you and he can discuss your oral health needs and the best options. Areas of the mouth that are otherwise hard to see, like the back molars, can be easily scanned without discomfort.

This eliminates the need to sit in a dental chair to have a traditional dental impression, which makes many patients uncomfortable and some even gag on the goop. And instead of having to ship a physical mold back and forth between a dental lab, the iTero digital image of the area to be worked on  can be submitted immediately, greatly speeding up the process and improving the fit of the resulting dental appliance compared with physical impressions (which often are not well done, resulting in having to be redone).

In the case of Invisalign, its “outcome simulator” allows us to show you how your orthodontic process is expected to proceed even before your first aligner is made. This is because of the “open architecture” software of iTero, which also allows Invisalign to track your progress and adjust the aligners accordingly. After the Invisalign process is complete, your retainers can also be custom-made to wear for a period recommended by Dr. Louie to be sure the teeth do not begin to revert back to their original crooked positions.

Everyone needs to have a full dental exam at least twice a year, to be sure that oral health problems are caught before they develop into serious issues. This will also include a digital x-ray to check the health of the roots of your teeth and the underlying jawbone. Call us today and we can discuss the value of the iTero for whatever your needs are.

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When is a Tooth Extraction Needed?

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Patients often express surprise about how easy it is for daily activities to seriously injure their teeth, in many cases resulting in the need to extract those that are beyond saving.

Habits like using teeth to pry off bottle caps, pulling off clothing, just chewing on the end of a pen, eating hard foods or even biting on ice can cause them to be fractured or seriously chipped.

Playing non-contact sports with friends can seem safe enough to not wear a sports mouthguard, yet an elbow or a ball can knock out teeth. 

A quick trip to the store can result in a car accident that cracks a tooth.

It is easy to get busy and not brush for a full two minutes after breakfast and dinner and floss before bedtime every day. The tiny particles of food left on teeth turn into a sticky film called plaque that infects the gums and soon they pull away their support and one or more need to be extracted.

A simple cavity can become so bad that a filling is not enough to save the tooth.

Sometimes teeth affected by oral cancer, which weakens the immune system, or radiation, need to be removed.

But more commonly, tooth extraction is advised because some teeth are overcrowding the arch, making them hard to clean and causing others to move. This is especially true of so-called wisdom teeth, the back molars, which are commonly extracted when patients are in their teens because more often than not they cause misalignment and damage other teeth.

In other cases, taking out some teeth is the first step in preparing for straightening the overall bite.

The good news is that Dr. Louie is an expert at extracting problem teeth, whatever the reason. The procedure is painless, starting with a topical numbing solution, then a pinprick injection of anesthesia at the site. If you tend to feel anxious before even minor surgery, a mild oral sedation is available to help you relax, and for those who are very sensitive, a strong pain pill is available that will make you drowsy or even fall asleep. Even an IV drip is an option, which would put you in a deep state of relaxation during the procedure, but you would remain conscious. 

Afterwards, you will be given a prescription for pain medication, if ibuprofen is not enough.

The first step in deciding whether a tooth needs to be extracted is to have a full dental examination by Dr. Louie. Make an appointment today before a loose or cracked tooth becomes an emergency.

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Teeth Whitening Trends and Professional Treatment

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No one in Greater Los Angeles can ignore the fact that there are a lot of gleaming Hollywood-quality smiles around. You see them in the mall, at restaurants, and on the street. You might even feel a little shy about flashing a full smile if yours is not quite up to this local glamorous standard.

But most of those who are so proud of their grins were not born with that level of whiteness. You probably know why your teeth have been gradually getting darker, aside from the natural effects of aging: too much coffee, tea, and red wine or smoking (anything). But you may be surprised that colored sodas can do the same, as well as blueberries, beets, and tomatoes. 

You probably are aware of the rising trend of using over-the-counter whitening kits, but if you’ve tried them, you’ve probably been disappointed. Whether they use strips, gels, pens, or trays, they not only aren’t very good at making your teeth noticeably whiter, despite the hassle of using them, they can even irritate your gums and make your teeth sensitive.

Then there is the sudden popularity of toothpastes claiming that the activated charcoal or baking soda they have will make teeth whiter. True, but these also can also damage the outer enamel that protects your teeth from decay.

On the other hand, the recent claim that swishing coconut oil in your mouth can whiten teeth has no evidence to support it.

Thanks to advances in cosmetic dentistry, however, anyone can achieve a smile that will make them want to smile about it, especially when it can come at an affordable cost from one of Southern California’s most respected cosmetic dentists. Dr. Shervin Louie offers a professional method of whitening that is far more effective, faster, and safer than the alternatives.

A special whitening bleach is carefully placed on the teeth, while the gums are protected, and then a special light activates the agent. After an hour, patients find that, depending on depth of the discoloration, up to eight shades will have been removed.

Friends, colleagues, customers, and even strangers will start smiling back as your friendliness is made obvious by your vibrant new look.

Many patients like to touch-up their new smile by returning to Dr. Louie’s office once or twice a year after the initial treatment. We also offer a professional-grade whitening kit to take home, for those who like to do this themselves.

Don’t bother with ineffective, difficult, and risky trends when relaxing in our office for an hour can make all the difference in your personal and business life with professional whitening.

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How to Maintain Care of Your Teeth Following Invisalign Treatment

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After having to wear Invisalign trays for many months to straighten your teeth, you are no doubt looking forward to not having to take them out when you eat and cleaning them. But to maintain your newly perfect smile, you need to start wearing special retainers to keep the teeth from going back to their original positions for a time Dr. Louie will recommend for your case.

It has been proven that once your basic orthodontic goals are achieved, the bones will still need time to harden around the teeth (especially for teens, whose jaws are still developing). Fortunately, the retainers are similar to the trays in being clear and fitting over the teeth, but with even less pressure, since they are just maintaining the teeth in place. Dr. Louie will do a final scan to be sure those he creates for the upper and lower arches will fit perfectly. Some patients have made the mistaken assumption that they can just keep using the last Invisalign trays to save time or money, but the fit won’t be right and they will become discolored.

There are some important tips to having a successful Invisalign aftercare experience:

Remove the retainers before eating to avoid having food particles get stuck in them. When finished, brush your teeth, rinse the retainers, and put them back in your mouth.

Beverages and Retainers

Avoid drinking hot beverages when wearing retainers, since they may slightly melt the plastic and no longer fit properly, requiring new ones to be made.

At night, scrub them with soapy water (not toothpaste, which is abrasive), or soak them for 20 minutes in water in which a tablet for cleaning retainers has been dissolved.

Wear the retainers at night, since this will protect them from any unconscious grinding of the teeth, due to tension, which can be damaging.

Candy and Sticky Foods

Avoid eating sticky candy or chewing gum, which can get stuck on the retainers.

If you smoke, try to stop, otherwise reduce it to the minimum possible and ask for retainers that are not clear (since they will turn yellow from the smoke).

You should continue to brush and floss as you have been doing. If the teeth or gums feel sensitive (which is often the case after any orthodontic treatment), use a salt water rinse and toothpaste for teeth sensitivity during the transition.

And be sure to visit Dr. Louie every six months or on the schedule he recommends to have a digital x-ray and a professional cleaning, to be sure not only your Invisalign goals continue to be met, but that you maintain good overall oral health.

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