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Sedation Options for Your Periodontal Procedure

July 1st, 2020

There are many understandable reasons why you might be feeling less than enthusiastic about your upcoming periodontal treatment.  Perhaps anxiety is an issue, or your teeth are extremely sensitive. You may have a low pain threshold, an easily triggered gag reflex, or require longer or more complex work during your visit. These are also excellent reasons to consider sedation dentistry.

Of course, Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis will always try our best to make sure that every procedure is pain free. A local anesthetic will be provided to numb the treatment area completely. You might decide that this all that you need, especially for relatively simple procedures. But if you would prefer to remain completely aware, but feel less anxious, if you would like deep sedation throughout the entire procedure, or if you want something in between, talk to us about making sedation part of your treatment.

The most common methods of sedation include:

  • Oral Sedation

Usually, oral medications that reduce anxiety are given in pill form. The level of sedation and how much you will be aware during your procedure will depend on the dosage, and you will need time to recover from the drug’s effects after we are done.

  • Nitrous Oxide

Commonly referred to as “laughing gas,” this has been used since the 1800’s to relieve dental anxiety and reduce pain.  Today’s equipment is designed to provide a precise mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen inhaled through a mask that you will wear throughout the procedure. Once the mask is removed, you will recover quickly.

  • IV Sedation

Medication will be delivered through an intravenous line placed in a vein. This delivery system allows the sedative to take effect very quickly, unlike oral sedation, and adjustments to the sedation level can be made throughout the procedure. This method will also require recovery time when your work is complete.

Because your concerns and condition are unique, we will tailor your sedation to fit your specific needs, and our experience and training enable us to recommend the sedation that is best for you. We will take a careful health history to make sure that whichever medication is used won’t interact with your other medications or affect any pre-existing medical conditions.

Our San Mateo, CA office is trained to administer and monitor all these forms of sedation. Because sedation is a regular part of our practice, we have the medical knowledge and skill to provide you with a safe and comfortable periodontal experience. If you think sedation dentistry might be right for you, this procedure is something we are happy to discuss before your appointment.

Oral Diseases and How You Can Avoid Them

June 17th, 2020

While modern dental science has made remarkable advances in treating oral diseases, prevention is always better than cure. To keep our mouth, gums, and teeth their healthiest, there are some simple practices we can follow to reduce dramatically the risk of developing some of the most common oral diseases.

Tooth Decay

We don’t usually think of tooth decay as a disease, but it is, in fact, the most common chronic disease in older children and adolescents. A great majority of adults have had at least some experience with decay. Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to pain, infection, tooth loss, and even loss of nearby bone in the jaw. Luckily, there are several time-tested ways to prevent cavities:

  • Brush properly at least twice a day. Ask Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis for the best toothbrush for your individual needs (usually, a soft brush is best), the best technique for angling the brush to reach all of each tooth’s surfaces, and the amount of time you should spend brushing.
  • Floss daily. Even with perfect brushing form, you are going to want to use floss to clean between the teeth and around the gum line.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. Study after study has shown that the risk of cavities is reduced with regular use of a fluoride toothpaste or rinse.
  • Watch your diet. Foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates give cavity-causing bacteria the fuel they need to produce the acids which weaken enamel. On the other hand, a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals is beneficial not only for your teeth, but for your whole body!
  • See your dentist for regular checkups to find small problems and prevent them from becoming major ones. Your dentist can also give you tips on better oral hygiene if your brushing and flossing habits aren’t doing the job.

Gum Disease

Preventing gum disease is a lot like preventing tooth decay—your daily habits really make a difference. When plaque builds up around the teeth and gums, the bacteria in plaque cause gum tissue to become inflamed, swollen, and painful. Left untreated, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria collect and lead to infection. Infections harm not only gum tissue, but can destroy the bone which supports the teeth. What can you do to prevent gum disease?

  • Use proper brushing technique. Remember to angle the brush toward the gums to gently clean around and below the gum line.
  • Floss daily—flossing removes particles and plaque between the teeth, and it also helps remove plaque from the area under the gum line.
  • Smokers are at higher risk for gum disease, and smoking has been linked to slower healing. Giving up tobacco products of any kind is always a good way to protect your dental health.
  • Regular dental exams will catch gingivitis (early gum disease) while it is still reversible. Periodontitis (serious gum disease) can require treatment by Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis. Certain diseases such as diabetes increase the risk of developing gum disease, so checkups are especially important.
  • Having your teeth cleaned every six months, or as recommended, will remove plaque that brushing alone can’t handle. If there are signs of more serious gum disease, a periodontal cleaning will remove plaque and tartar from both above and below the gum line.

How Can Your Periodontist Help?

Periodontists like Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis have the advanced education and training not only to treat oral diseases, but to help repair the damage they can cause. A periodontist has experience in:

  • Treating all forms of periodontal disease
  • Periodontal cleanings such as scaling and root planning to remove plaque and tartar
  • Regenerative treatment to restore bone lost to periodontal disease
  • Implant surgery to provide a permanent, natural looking replacement for a lost tooth
  • Regenerative procedures, if needed, to make sure the jawbone has the necessary size and density for a successful implant
  • Gum surgeries to remove or reshape excess or damaged gum tissue
  • Soft tissue grafts to treat exposed roots, receding gums, and gum tissue loss

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when it comes to your dental health, there’s a lot you can do to prevent oral diseases. But should you need treatment at our San Mateo, CA office, we have the knowledge and experience to help restore the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums. After all, you can’t weigh the worth of your oral health—that’s priceless!

Great Gifts for Grandparents

June 10th, 2020

Our grandmothers and grandfathers, our moms and dads—we’ve known them our whole lives. So, why are they so hard to shop for?

If your older family members have all the sweaters, socks, and scents they need, consider a gift that can make life a bit easier and perhaps a lot healthier—an electric toothbrush!

  • Easy Efficiency

The most important reason to choose an electric toothbrush is its effectiveness. Several studies have shown that regular use of an electric toothbrush leads to a marked reduction in plaque, that bacteria-filled film which sticks to the teeth and leads to cavities and gingivitis. And it’s really no surprise that an electric brush can out-perform a manual brush.

Using a manual brush is not just a matter of applying toothpaste and scrubbing. Proper technique means short brush strokes at a 45-degree angle for the outer and inner surfaces of the tooth, thoroughly cleaning the uneven chewing surfaces of the molars, and brushing the inside of the front teeth with gentle vertical strokes. Meticulous cleaning of all these surfaces can be difficult, especially for people with dexterity issues.

Electric toothbrushes offer several options, from oscillating/rotating brushes to oscillating/rotating/pulsating models to brushes using sonic vibration technology. What they all have in common is the ability to remove plaque far more effectively than we can on our own, because they provide the equivalent of thousands and even tens of thousands of brushstrokes per minute, as opposed to the hundreds we can achieve by hand.

  • Comfortable Control

An electric toothbrush can be not only more efficient, but also more comfortable for older brushers. For those with arthritis, limited mobility, injuries, or other health conditions, the larger handles can be easier to control and much more grip-friendly. And, with the work being done by the brush head, users avoid repetitive hand and wrist motion.

Also, the pressure applied to teeth and gums with an electric brush is designed to clean thoroughly while protecting the mouth. Heavy-handed manual brushing can irritate delicate gum tissue and even damage enamel over time. With an electric brush, users only need to guide it along teeth and gums as it supplies all the power needed. There are even pressure sensors available to warn users that their brushing is too vigorous.

  • Apps, Anyone?

If your grandfather likes to keep things old school, a basic model with a convenient two-minute timer and several cleaning modes will offer all the bells and whistles he needs. But if your nana has more Instagram followers than you do, consider a more tech-savvy option.

Several of today’s electric brushes come with features designed to make brushing even more effective. They can let her know if she’s brushing long enough, alert her if she’s brushing too hard, and remind her that it’s time to replace the brush head. Some models link to handy apps that will map out just where she’s brushed, in case there are a few spots that get overlooked. Or choose a model which comes with a travel case that can recharge while she’s busy seeing the world.

Okay, all that being said, we’ll admit it—a toothbrush might not be the most glamorous gift your grandparent unwraps on that special day. But helping a favorite family member brush more effectively and comfortably while improving dental health? That’s a gift that keeps on giving!

Could a Night Guard Be the Answer to Your Dreams?

June 3rd, 2020

Have you been having trouble getting a good night’s rest?

Sometimes the reason for a poor night’s sleep is obvious. A midnight horror movie. A bedtime espresso. That anchovy and pineapple pizza you had for dinner. Not much we can do about these problems.

Sometimes, though, the cause of your sleep difficulties is dental in origin, and that is something Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis can help with.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common dental problem. When people with this condition sleep, their jaws clench and their teeth grind against each other throughout the night. When to suspect you might suffer from bruxism?

  • You wake with a sore jaw, or you hear pops or clicks when you move your jaw
  • You suffer from frequent headaches or facial pain
  • Your teeth are chipped, cracked, flattened, worn down, or sensitive
  • You wake up tired, because grinding affects the quality of your sleep
  • Partners, siblings, or roommates complain about nocturnal grinding noises affecting the quality of their

Pain and fatigue are unpleasant enough, but there are additional serious consequences for those who suffer from bruxism. Our jaws are extremely powerful, and clenching and grinding can put hundreds of pounds on pressure on teeth and jaws over hours of sleep. These forces can lead to:

  • Damaged teeth. Cracked, chipped, and worn down teeth can mean veneers, crowns, and root canals. Seriously compromised or broken teeth might need to be extracted.
  • Damaged dental work. Bruxism can lead to fractured veneers and damaged fillings and crowns. If the damage is too serious for repair, replacement might be necessary.
  • Damaged jaw joints. Severe cases of bruxism can lead to injury to the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, the complex hinge that allows our jaws to move up and down, back and forth, and side to side.

Why are periodontists concerned about bruxism? Because tooth grinding, over time, can also cause problems for your gums. Grinding your teeth doesn’t cause periodontitis, or advanced gum disease, but it can make the effects of the disease worse.

Periodontitis, left untreated, breaks down the bones and ligaments which support our teeth and hold them firmly in place. The extreme forces generated by tooth grinding put even greater pressure on these already compromised support structures, which can accelerate their breakdown.

While tooth, jaw and periodontal damage can be treated with restorations, or root canals, or implants, or surgical procedures, prevention is clearly a much better option for a healthy smile. And one of the simplest and most effective treatments for preventing the damage caused by bruxism is a night guard.

Night guards fit over the affected teeth to prevent them from touching directly, saving tooth and enamel from injury and wear. Not only do night guards prevent contact, they spread the biting forces of the jaw over the surface of the guard to greatly reduce their impact. And because they also stop the jaw muscles from clenching tightly, there’s no excess stress placed on the temporomandibular joint.

While over-the-counter products are available, a dental professional is the best person to see for the most effective night guard. A custom night guard is designed to fit your individual teeth and mouth perfectly. Impressions or 3D scans are taken in our San Mateo, CA office, and a guard is fabricated with the precise shape, strength, and thickness you need to protect your teeth. And, as a bonus, custom night guards offer the most comfortable fit for the most comfortable night’s sleep.

Scary movies, late night caffeinating, creative food combinations—not much we can do about those! But if you’re suffering lost sleep and painful mornings because of tooth grinding, give your dentist a call. In many cases, a night guard just might be the key to sweet dreams.

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