How To Keep Your Smile Healthy When You Can’t See The Dentist: Our Top Tips

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has led to many dentists closing their doors for regular six-month preventive appointments. Many dental offices in Lakewood and elsewhere in the US are only seeing patients with dental emergencies. 

This has many people wondering how they can keep their smiles healthy during the months when they won’t be able to see a dentist. The team at Lakewood Smiles will go over a few basic tips you can follow to ensure your smile stays healthy until you can get back to our office for a six-month teeth cleaning and oral exam! 

1. Start With Proper Brushing And Flossing

The most important thing you can do to keep your smile healthy is maintain a proper oral hygiene routine. You should brush at least twice a day for two minutes. Brush once in the morning, and once in the evening. You may even want to consider brushing three times a day after breakfast, lunch, and dinner to ensure your mouth is as clean as possible.

Flossing once a day is also important. Brushing alone only removes bacteria and plaque from about 60% of the surface of your teeth. Make sure you floss once per day to keep your gums and teeth healthy, and consider rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash after you floss to maximize the effectiveness of flossing.

2. Maintain A Tooth-Healthy Diet

Our rule of thumb is this. Foods that are healthy for your body are also healthy for your teeth. Healthy, unprocessed foods like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and most types of dairy are good for your body and also help minimize plaque and bacteria buildup on your teeth.

In contrast, you will want to avoid “junk” foods that are highly-processed and high in sugar and simple carbohydrates, like potato chips, candy, desserts, and so on. The bacteria in your mouth love sugar and starch, so eating these foods in excessive amounts can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. 

3. Watch What You Chew (And Where You Chew It) 

Beyond simply maintaining a tooth-healthy diet, you may also want to pay a little bit more attention to how you’re chewing your food. For example, you should avoid biting into extremely hard and crunchy foods with your front teeth, as they could be chipped or damaged. Chew hard foods like ice and almonds with your molars, which are much stronger and more durable. 

You should also avoid eating a lot of gummy or sticky candies if you have multiple fillings or crowns. Foods like taffy, caramel, toffee, and other extremely sticky foods can all pull out your dental work if it’s loose. 

Additionally, don’t use your teeth to chew any non-food objects like pens, pencils, or your fingernails. This could cause premature wear & tear or breakage of your teeth. You also should never use your teeth as “tools” to tear tape or open packages. Your teeth are meant to chew food. Using them for other purposes could damage them. 

Follow These Tips To Keep Your Teeth Healthy And Strong 

If you take proper care of your teeth and gums, eat a healthy diet, and avoid doing things that could damage your teeth, your smile is sure to remain strong until you can see the dentist again. Don’t forget to schedule an appointment at Lakewood Smiles with Dr. Nancy William or Dr. Abraam Girgis whenever you can! Contact us at (562) 866-0406 to get started. 

How Can My Dentist Help With My Sleep Apnea? Understanding Your Options

Whether you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea or suspect that you may have this sleep disorder, you might be wondering what your options are for treatment. 

But did you know that your dentist may be able to help with sleep apnea? It’s true. Read on, and learn more about how dentistry can help solve sleep apnea from the team at Lakewood Smiles.

Understanding The Basics Of Sleep Apnea

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA for short. This occurs when the soft tissues of the jaw, palate, and airway relax during sleep, blocking proper breathing for anywhere from 2-10 seconds or longer.

This can occur dozens or hundreds of times per night. In the short term, sleep apnea leads to poor quality sleep, drowsiness, and many other uncomfortable symptoms. And in the long term, it can contribute to the risk of heart attack, stroke, and more.

How Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) Can Help You Get A Better Night’s Sleep

You may know about CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. These devices use a face and nose mask that pumps a stream of pressurized air into the airway, preventing OSA.

But did you know that this is not your only option? A dentist like Dr. Nancy William or Dr. Abraam Girgis may be able to work with you to create a custom-fitted oral appliance.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) uses a special oral appliance that looks similar to a night guard for teeth grinding, or an athletic mouthguard. This appliance shifts the position of your mouth and jaw to promote proper breathing, and prevent your oral tissue from sagging into your airway. 

If you’re a good candidate for oral appliance therapy, you may be able to treat your apnea without an expensive, bulky, and awkward CPAP machine. Consult with your sleep specialist to learn more, or contact Lakewood Smiles now for more information. 

Understanding The Pros & Cons of Oral Appliances

Not sure if oral appliance therapy is right for you? Here are a few of the pros and cons of choosing oral appliance therapy in Lakewood.

Pros

  • Comfortable, portable, and convenient
  • Requires no power, unlike a CPAP machine
  • Does not restrict sleeping position


Cons

  • Not ideal for severe cases of sleep apnea. A CPAP machine may be recommended for patients with serious airway obstruction problems
  • May be uncomfortable when first wearing the appliance due to bulk & salivation
  • Can cause jaw problems if not fitted perfectly by your dentist

The Pros & Cons of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges consist of two crowns that attach to healthy abutment teeth and support one or more false teeth (pontics) to replace your missing teeth. Here are a few of their pros and cons. 

Pros

  • Will never shift, move or slip – Like implants, bridges won’t move. They are anchored to your teeth using strong, durable dental crowns.
  • Fast treatment – You can often restore your smile in just 2-3 weeks with a dental bridge.
  • Minimally-invasive – Some of your enamel must be removed from the abutment teeth, but there is no need to cut into your gums or jaw bone. 

Cons

  • Shorter lifespan – Bridges usually last between 5-15 years, which is shorter than dental implants, but better than dentures.
  • Requires trimming of healthy teeth – Your abutment teeth must be trimmed down significantly, even if they are healthy, which will weaken them if the bridge ever must be removed.
  • Hard to clean – It will take some practice to get used to cleaning your bridge properly, and you may need special tools like floss tape and interdental brushes.

Contact Lakewood Smiles To See If Oral Appliance Therapy Is Right For You!

At Lakewood Smiles Dentistry, Dr. Nancy William and Dr. Abraam Girgis can create a custom-fitted oral appliance that will help prevent sleep apnea, and provide you with a more restful night of sleep. To see if you’re a good candidate for oral appliance therapy, contact us online or give us a call at (562) 866-0406 for a consultation at our office in Lakewood.

Explaining dental implants and bridges to a patient

Dental Implants vs. Dental Bridges: Pros & Cons

Interested in either dental implants or dental bridges to restore your smile in Lakewood? In this blog from Lakewood Smiles Dentistry, we’ll take a look at a few of the pros and cons of each treatment, to help you decide which one may be right for you. 

The Pros & Cons of Dental Implants

Dental implants consist of a two-part implant and restoration, and provide you with a smile that looks and feels totally natural, and will last you for years to come. 

Pros

  • 30+ year lifespan – As long as you care for your implants properly, you can expect them to last you at least 30 years. Most patients keep them for the rest of their lives.
  • Easy to maintain – For single-tooth implants, all you have to do is brush and floss your teeth normally, and see Dr. William or Dr. Girgis for regular teeth cleanings every six months.
  • Will never shift, move or slip – Your implant will be securely anchored to your jaw bone, so your new teeth will never shift or slip. 


Cons

  • Long treatment time – It can take 3-6 months to get an implant. If you need a tooth extraction, bone grafting or other preparatory surgeries, it can take even longer.
  • Expensive – The investment is worth it, but dental implants usually have a higher up-front cost than any other restorative treatment.
  • Requires invasive surgery – You will need to have oral surgery to place the implant, which may not be preferred by some patients.

The Pros & Cons of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges consist of two crowns that attach to healthy abutment teeth and support one or more false teeth (pontics) to replace your missing teeth. Here are a few of their pros and cons. 

Pros

  • Will never shift, move or slip – Like implants, bridges won’t move. They are anchored to your teeth using strong, durable dental crowns.
  • Fast treatment – You can often restore your smile in just 2-3 weeks with a dental bridge.
  • Minimally-invasive – Some of your enamel must be removed from the abutment teeth, but there is no need to cut into your gums or jaw bone. 

Cons

  • Shorter lifespan – Bridges usually last between 5-15 years, which is shorter than dental implants, but better than dentures.
  • Requires trimming of healthy teeth – Your abutment teeth must be trimmed down significantly, even if they are healthy, which will weaken them if the bridge ever must be removed.
  • Hard to clean – It will take some practice to get used to cleaning your bridge properly, and you may need special tools like floss tape and interdental brushes.

Not Sure What Treatment Is Right for You? Find Out at Lakewood Smiles! 

At Lakewood Smiles, we specialize in restorative dental care for patients in Lakewood. Contact us for an appointment today, and Dr. Nancy Willliam or Dr. Abbraam Girgis can help you choose between dental bridges and dental implants. Give us a call at (562) 866-0406, or stop by our office at 5220 Clark Ave, Suite 435, Lakewood, CA 90712 to get started. 

Can Dentures Cause Headaches? Answering Common FAQs

Whether you already have a set of dentures or you’re just interested in dentures in Lakewood, you may have some questions about these dental prostheses. Can they cause headaches and other common issues like dry mouth or thrush? Get the answers you need from the team at Lakewood Smiles Dentistry.

Can Dentures Cause Headaches?

Yes. If your dentures have not been fitted properly to your gums, they can cause headaches. If your new teeth don’t fit together correctly and cause an unhealthy bite, this can put a lot of stress on the joints and muscles in your face, such as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

In turn, this can cause headaches and other symptoms such as pain when chewing, ear pain, and much more. To ensure you avoid headaches caused by dentures, you must work with a dentist like Dr. Nancy William or Dr. Abraam Girgis to ensure that your dentures are fitted perfectly to your mouth. 

Can Dentures Cause Dry Mouth? 

Dentures do not cause dry mouth directly. Dry mouth, also known as “xerostomia,” is very common in older patients. As we age, our saliva flow naturally decreases. Dry mouth can also be caused by stress, dehydration, and nervousness.

In addition, decreased saliva flow is often a side effect of many medications including painkillers, antidepressants, sinus medications, and diuretics, to name just a few. 

While it’s not caused by dentures, dry mouth can cause uncomfortable side effects, since moisture are required for your dentures to adhere to your gums properly. You may experience chafing and irritation of the gum tissue if you have dry mouth and dentures. 

Can Dentures Cause Thrush?

Yes, dentures can cause thrush. However, this usually only happens to patients who are not cleaning their dentures properly. Some conditions like dry mouth and diabetes can also contribute to a higher risk of developing thrush.

The best way to prevent thrush is to clean and soak your dentures regularly to destroy the fungi that are the underlying cause of the infection. Regular visits to Lakewood Smiles can also help keep your mouth clean and free of thrush. 

Can Dentures Cause Acid Reflux? 

No. Dentures do not cause acid reflux. In fact, they can help prevent acid reflux by allowing you to chew food properly. Patients with acid reflux may notice more symptoms when they are not able to chew their food properly due to missing teeth.

Bigger pieces of food require more stomach acid to digest, which can make the symptoms of acid reflux worse. But with a set of perfectly-fitted dentures, patients will be able to chew their food properly and minimize the effects of acid reflux.

Need Custom Dentures WIth a Perfect Fit? Come to Lakewood Smiles! 

Whether you’re getting your first set of dentures, or you’re interested in replacing an old, poorly-fitted or worn-down set of dentures, Dr. Nancy William and Dr. Abraam Girgis can help. To schedule a denture fitting, just contact us at (562) 866-0406, or stop by our office at 5220 Clark Ave, Suite 435, Lakewood, CA 90712.

Man with great smile at the dental office

Will Teeth Whitening Work With Crowns And Fillings?

The average American has at least three dental fillings, and some studies show that about 40% of adults have one or more dental crowns. Many patients with crowns and fillings wonder what will happen if they have their teeth whitened. If you’re interested in enhancing your smile with our whitening services, here’s everything you need to know about whitening with crowns and fillings:

How Teeth Whitening Works

Teeth whitening uses a category of compounds called “peroxides.” The most commonly used compounds are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. When these compounds contact your enamel, they react to the presence of surface stains. The volatile oxygen molecules in the peroxide will “break” the bonds that hold these stains in place. This “bleaches” the stain away to give you a whiter smile.

Crowns & Fillings Do Not React To Chemical Teeth Whiteners 

Tooth-colored fillings are usually made out of resin composite materials, which do not respond to whitening treatment. Crowns may be made of resin or of ceramic/porcelain materials, and they also do not respond to whitening. 

Unlike your natural teeth, the peroxide used to whiten teeth does not react to the material of your tooth-colored crown or filling. They cannot be whitened, and will always remain the same shade even if you have the rest of your teeth whitened.

Can I Have My Teeth Whitened Before My Crowns Or Fillings Are Placed?

If you are replacing multiple metal crowns or fillings, or you have some decayed or damaged teeth and will require treatment with one or more crowns or fillings, it may be possible to whiten your teeth before your crowns and fillings are placed.

Once your teeth are the desired shade, Dr. William or Dr. Girgis will choose resin or ceramic material that matches the shade of your newly whitened teeth. This ensures that your dental restorations will match your natural teeth perfectly.

What If I Have Multiple Dental Restorations & Want My Teeth To Be Whitened?

If you have multiple dental restorations and you would like a brighter smile, traditional whitening may not be appropriate since it may result in an uneven smile. However, there are a few other options you can explore to improve tooth color:

  • Cosmetic crowns – You may be able to replace existing discolored crowns or have new cosmetic crowns attached to your teeth to cover up stains and restore your smile.
  • VeneersVeneers can cover up the front chewing surfaces of your teeth and hide discolorations and stains.
  • Dental bonding Dental bonding can be used to apply dental resin directly to your tooth, covering up imperfections like gaps in your smile and misshapen teeth, as well as tooth discoloration. 

The best treatment for your needs may differ depending on your oral health, your number of dental restorations, and other such factors.

Get A Brighter Smile – Get In Touch With The Team At Lakewood Smiles Dentistry! 

Whether you would like your teeth to be whitened before your fillings or crowns are placed, or you’re exploring other options such as crowns, veneers and bonding, Dr. Nancy William and Dr. Abraam Girgis are here to help. Contact us now at (562) 866-0406 to get started, or stop by our office in person at 5220 Clark Ave, Suite 435, Lakewood, CA 90712. 

senior couple happy elderly love together

Dental Insurance Benefits: Use Them or Lose Them

The end of the year is coming up quickly, which means now is the time to start scheduling preventive and restorative dental care at Lakewood Smiles Dentistry. By scheduling your appointments now, you can get the most out of your yearly dental benefits. 

Get Treatment Before the End of the Year to Maximize Your Annual Benefits

Why should you make sure you get treatment before the end of the year? Because this is the best way to get the most from your dental insurance plan.

Most dental insurance plans have a deductible of between $250-$500. Once you’ve paid this deductible out-of-pocket, your remaining treatments are covered by your insurance plan until you reach your yearly maximum, which is usually around $1,000-$1,500.

However, this resets on January 1st. As soon as the new year begins, your deductible will roll over, and you’ll have to meet it again before your insurance plan pays for treatment.

But if you get all of your dental treatments by the end of the year, you can make sure you meet your yearly maximum, meaning you’ll get the most out of your dental insurance policy! 

What Treatments Are Covered by Dental Insurance?

Wondering what treatments are usually covered by dental insurance? Here are some of the most common procedures that you can expect your insurer to pay for.

  • Twice yearly teeth cleanings & oral exams – Almost all dental plans cover two annual teeth cleanings and oral exams. Usually, these are completely free, even if you haven’t met your annual deductible yet.
  • Annual x-rays – Most dental plans also provide annual x-rays at no out-of-pocket cost.
  • Fluoride treatments & dental sealants (kids) – Some dental insurance plans will cover preventive services like fluoride treatments and dental sealants. Usually, this coverage is offered only for children under the age of 18. 
  • Fillings & crowns – Dental insurance covers most restorative treatments, such as dental fillings and crowns, so you can repair your teeth and fix cavities without paying out-of-pocket.
  • Root canal therapy – Root canal therapy to restore infected teeth is covered by most major insurance plans. 
  • Tooth extractions – If you need a tooth extracted for orthodontic reasons or because it’s too damaged to save, this will usually be covered by your insurance plan.
  • Dentures – Dental insurance will typically cover most or all of the cost of partial and full dentures if they are required to restore your smile and replace missing teeth. 

For the most part, all dental insurance plans will cover restorative and preventive treatments, like those listed above. Cosmetic treatments, like dental bonding, are usually not covered by insurance.

Note: Your coverage will vary. Make sure you understand your policy and confirm coverage with your insurer before seeking treatment

Get Treatment Now and Keep Your Smile Healthy During the Holidays!

By getting treatment from Dr. William or Dr. Girgis before the end of the year, you can make the most of your dental benefits and keep your smile healthy throughout the winter holidays.

To learn more and get started at Lakewood Smiles Dentistry, just contact us now at (562) 866-0406, or stop by our office at 5220 Clark Ave, Suite 435, Lakewood, CA 90712. We’re always accepting new patients, and we’d be happy to meet you. 

Cavities and Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood illness–but it can affect anyone, not only children and young adults!

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Our mouths are full of bacteria, each and every day. That’s right–there’s bacteria hanging out in your mouth right now, at the very moment you’re reading this!

Hundreds of variations of bacteria reside between our teeth, gums, under our tongue, on our tongue, and on our cheeks. Basically, the entire surface of our mouth is covered in strains that are both helpful and harmful.

When Bacteria Becomes A Cavity

whitening

When the wrong kinds of bacteria build up–like the kinds left behind from sugary treats and drinks–decay happens. Overtime, the acids and bacteria erode the enamel on our teeth, forming a hole. A cavity.

Foods That Are Not Our Friends

Sugary foods trigger acid attacks on our enamel, so if you eat candy and desserts and drinky sodas and juices frequently throughout the day, you are raising your chances of decay.

Carbs aren’t friendly, either–pastas, breads, potatoes and rice also contribute to a heavy build up of the colorless sticky film of plaque on our teeth.

When we eat these foods often, the sugar coats our teeth, turning into plaque which turns into acid, which then…eats a hole in your enamel!

But I Like Sweets and Treats!

healthy kids smiles

We do, too! And, we know that it’s unrealistic to advise people to steer clear of all the delicious foods we previously mentioned. However, you can limit your consumption! If you do decide to indulge, make sure to drink water and swish it around in your mouth to sweep away as much plaque and debris as you can.

Each day, make sure that you brush and floss at least twice–in the morning, and at night before bed. If you eat something sinfully delicious at home, head into the bathroom and do some damage prevention with your toothbrush!

Do I Have A Cavity?

Many people associate cavities with pain. But discomfort is generally the very last sign of a cavity–once the decay reaches the nerve! Occasionally, during the initial stages of decay, a white spot may appear on the enamel–but that could be your only clue.

Your Oral Health Depends On You

This is why your at home-hygiene routine is so important, as well as visits to your dentist. He or she can spot subtle changes in your oral health. Plus, the power of a professional cleaning far exceeds the power of your toothbrush! Six month checkups keep you on the path of wellness!

Cavity Treatment

Brushing

It’s simple, really: treating tooth decay depends on the size of the cavity. Small cavities can be treated with simple composite (white) fillings. Larger cavities could need more that just a filling to properly restore the tooth. If the cavity is too big a root canal or dental extraction is necessary.

For preventive measures, your dentist can apply a sealant to reduce the risk of future cavities. (This will only work in the early stages of decay, before enamel has been cracked in any way.)

Sealants in baby molars are excellent preventive options for children and can be placed once their adult molars arrive as well.

Curious About Care?

If you have any questions about cavities, tooth decay, and/or prevention, please give Lakewood Smiles Dentistry a call at (562-866-0406). As your family dentist in Lakewood, California, we will walk you through any questions or concerns you have about family, general, or restorative dentistry.