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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Is Coffee Good for Your Teeth?

Coffee cup smiley face

Happy National Coffee Day!

What better way to celebrate National Coffee Day than with some great news about coffee? Recent research has shown that caffeinated coffee offers many benefits for oral health, including less plaque and bacteria in the mouth as well as the potential to stave off serious health risks like oral cancer.

Coffee May Help Prevent Bacteria

A study by the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro found that the robusta coffee bean grown in Vietnam and Brazil helped to eliminate bacteria on the teeth as well as prevent the formation of plaque. Using bacteria from saliva, researchers cultivated plaque on donated fragments of primary teeth. Once the teeth were exposed to an extract of the robusta bean, the bacteria cells appeared to have burst, thereby lowering the risk of excessive plaque accumulation. Less plaque translates to a lower risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health concerns. While this is great news for us avid coffee drinkers, unfortunately, regular coffee consumption can still stain the teeth. (Could this be why teeth whitening is so popular?)

Coffee May Protect against Oral Cancer

A study conducted by the American Cancer Society in 2012 found that polyphenols in coffee may also help protect against the development or progression of oral cancer. This study associated the consumption of more than four cups of caffeinated coffee per day with a 49 percent lower risk of oral/pharyngeal cancer death. While it is less common in the United States, oral/pharyngeal cancer ranks among the top ten cancers in the world. Since coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide, it may give us all one more good reason to enjoy our daily cup of joe.

The Bad News:

Before we all start celebrating, there is just one more caveat to regular coffee consumption besides teeth staining: coffee sweetened with milk or sugar can potentially counter the benefits. Milk contains both sugar and carbohydrates, which erode the enamel and increase bacterial production.

The Good News:

If you can’t get accustomed to the bitterness of black coffee, you can still enjoy the benefits by swapping milk for heavy whipping cream (which contains no carbs and a very low amount of sugar) and by swapping sugar for a sugar-free sweetener like stevia or Truvia®. Any staining that occurs over time can be easily and immediately corrected at Dr. Sands’ office with Zoom!® in-office laser teeth whitening.

If you would like to correct yellow or stained teeth, celebrate National Coffee Day by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Kevin B. Sands. As a cosmetic dentist to the stars, Dr. Sands is a top choice for creating the most beautiful and healthy smiles in Beverly Hills. Please call (310) 273-0111 or fill out our online contact form today.

Invisalign®: The Clear Choice

An attractive business man and woman team at office buildingSince metal braces are distinctly more popular among teenagers, many adults view Invisalign® as the clear choice for correcting their crooked or crowded teeth. Invisalign® patients can go about their regular activities as they speak, smile, and laugh without anyone noticing they are straightening their teeth at the same time.

How does Invisalign work?

Gradually, over several months, a series of clear trays customized to fit your teeth will gently shift them into the proper alignment. You must wear the trays 22 hours per day, removing them only to clean them or to eat. The length of treatment with Invisalign® varies among patients, but most adults will see final results after one year, and teenagers see results within one to two years. Throughout the process, Invisalign® patients will not have to deal with the extra maintenance, diet restrictions, or uncomfortable mouthful of metal associated with braces.

Cost

The cost of Invisalign® is usually comparable to the cost of metal braces unless significant correction is needed. Significant correction could include improving a severe overbite, rotating a tooth, or moving the teeth vertically. In some cases, metal braces are a better option. After assessing your teeth, Dr. Sands will determine the treatment that will best meet your needs and inform you of the estimated cost.

Comfort

The thin Invisalign® trays fit smoothly and comfortably over the teeth. There is no risk of gum irritation or mouth sores that can often result from metal wires or brackets.

Convenience

Since Invisalign® is completely removable and not worn while you eat, there are no diet restrictions. With braces, you should be prepared to avoid eating popcorn, chips, apples, corn on the cob, chewy candy, and many other favorite foods and snacks.

If you are interested in Invisalign®, please schedule a consultation to see if this treatment is right for you. Please call Dr. Kevin Sands’ Beverly Hills practice at (310) 27-0111 or fill out our online contact form to learn more.

Is It Bad to Grit Your Teeth?

Mean looking man in business office gritting teethThe muscles we use for chewing and speaking are some of the strongest muscles in our body. Four muscles in particular make it possible to speak, close our mouth, chew, and move our mandible (lower jaw) from side to side. When our mouth isn’t practicing any of these normal functions, the upper and lower teeth should rest comfortably together for the majority of the time.

Sometimes, anxiety, anger, or sheer determination might cause us to clench our jaw or grit our teeth. While this is fine on occasion, habitual teeth clenching can lead to problems with the teeth, jaw, or overall health in the future.

What happens when I grit my teeth?

Most people who clench their teeth also grind their teeth. The term “bruxism” refers to both actions. While consistently clenching the jaw can cause some stress to the teeth, grinding the teeth together can lead to worse problems like cracks, chips, and loose teeth.

It is very common for people to experience bruxism while they are asleep, having no idea that they are damaging their smile. Dr. Sands can easily tell if bruxism has been occurring when he examines your mouth at a routine dental visit. If any damage has occurred, he may recommend dental bonding or a much stronger alternative like porcelain veneers to keep up with the consistent damage. He can also customize a mouthguard to be worn at night to help protect your teeth.

What other damage can teeth clenching cause?

Since one of the muscles responsible for bruxism, the temporal fossa, extends all the way into the skull, its overuse can be a cause of recurrent headaches and earaches. “Lockjaw” is also a side effect of bruxism because of the muscle spasms and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) inflammation it can cause.

How do I cure bruxism?

Reducing stress and avoiding food that can be hard to chew, such as toffee, caramel, or steak, will help to relax the overworked jaw muscles. You should also avoid chewing gum and opening your mouth very wide on a consistent basis. Dr. Sands can provide further recommendations for treatment for bruxism during your consultation.

If you are experiencing bruxism or its side effects, Dr. Kevin B. Sands can assess your mouth and provide his recommendation for treatment. To schedule an appointment, please call us today at (310) 27-0111 or fill out our online contact form.

Grin and Bear It: How Smiling Reduces Stress

Cute baby smiling

We all know that too much stress in our lives can wreak havoc on our health, disrupting nearly every system in our body. Stress can lead to high blood pressure, an increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and even accelerated aging. To remedy this, many people turn to yoga, meditation, stress counseling, or frequent vacations, but one study has shown that the simple act of smiling – even if the smile isn’t genuine – can be very effective to reduce your stress and enhance your mood overall.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Kansas and published in the journal Psychological Science, determined the stress levels of 169 participants when they were put into stressful situations by monitoring their heart rate. All were instructed to perform several multitasking activities as they struggled to hold chopsticks in their mouths, which were used to stimulate neutral as well as genuine smiles. One group was instructed to also smile during the activity. The results of the study showed that those with the forced smiles held only by the chopsticks had lower stress levels and heart rates than those with neutral expressions, and those who had genuine smiles were the most relaxed of all the participants.

So, the next time you have too much on your to-do list and stress is getting the best of you, just smile. “Fake it ‘til you make it” might prove to be a quality piece of advice to follow.

As a highly experienced cosmetic dentist to the stars, Dr. Sands knows the beauty of a genuine smile. He can help to restore lost teeth, straighten crooked teeth, whiten your teeth, and help you correct any other aesthetic or oral health concerns you may have. In case you need one more reason to smile, please schedule an appointment by calling (310) 273-0111 today. For your convenience, you may also fill out our online contact form.

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Tel: (310) 273-0111

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