5 Things You Should Know About Tooth Enamel

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Man with Bright Smile – Manteca, CA – Valley Oak Dental Group

When you admire someone’s white teeth, you see only the outermost layer of surprisingly complex structures. Human teeth possess a dense assembly of nerve tissue and blood vessels surrounded by a harder material called dentin, with a topmost layer of enamel providing essential protection and chewing strength.

The more you understand about tooth enamel, the more easily you can recognize threats to its health and structural integrity, and the more effectively you can protect your teeth against those potential issues. Give some thought to the following five important points regarding tooth enamel.

4 Symptoms That Call for a Dental Evaluation

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Dental Evaluation – Manteca, CA – Valley Oak Dental GroupRegular dental checkups and cleanings can help individuals minimize or prevent many dental and oral issues. Even with this preventative routine in place, however, occasional problems can develop. These problems can snowball into painful or dangerous conditions unless you schedule care sooner rather than later.

Once you know how to recognize certain characteristic symptoms of common dental problems, you can take action and get the professional evaluation you need before those problems worsen. Keep an eye out for these four trouble signs.

Should You Postpone Your Next Dental Procedure or Visit?

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Dentist Equipments – Manteca, CA – Valley Oak Dental GroupWhy shouldn’t you postpone necessary dental procedures or office visits? If you’ve waited weeks, months, or more for dentist-recommended work, take a look at the questions to ask right now.

Why Did the Dentist Recommend the Procedure?

The reason behind the recommendation can help you to decide whether you need to schedule a make-up appointment immediately or if the procedure really can wait. Purely cosmetic dental procedures, such as in-office whitening, aren’t emergency issues. Even though you should always discuss the postponement of a procedure with the dentist, most patients can safely wait for a cosmetic visit.

Is Facial Asymmetry Around the Jawline a Cause for Concern?

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Jawline Asymmetry — Manteca, CA — Valley Oak Dental GroupWhile no face is perfectly symmetrical, people with uneven jawlines may be concerned about how asymmetry affects their oral health. Read on to learn what might be causing your facial asymmetry, whether or not it’s a problem, and how to treat it.

What Causes Facial Asymmetry?

As people age, their faces can naturally become more asymmetrical because while bone growth stops at puberty, cartilage growth does not. However, there are many other potential causes of facial asymmetry, such as secondary health issues, lifestyle factors, and trauma.

5 Things You Should Know About Sports Mouth Guards

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Human teeth may handle everyday biting, chewing, and speech with ease, but they do less well with extreme biting forces and impacts to the face or jaw. For this reason, dentists often fit their patients with a customized mouth guard to protect the teeth from abnormal stresses and damage.

If you engage in regular athletic activity, you may find yourself looking for a sports mouth guard only to encounter a dizzying array of choices, questions, and considerations. Here are five key things to understand about the proper selection and fitting of a sports mouth guard.

  1. Differences Between Sports Mouth Guards and Night GuardsSports mouth guards - Valley Oak Dental Group

Mouth guards play two principal roles in dental health and wellness: protection during rigorous activity that might result in tooth damage, and protection against bruxism, which is unconscious grinding or clenching of the teeth and typically occurs during sleep. However, one mouth guard cannot serve both of these purposes.

Sports mouth guards feature thicker, bulkier designs, often with a semi-rigid outer shell encompassing a softer inner material. This bulkier design might prove awkward for sleepers, and does not protect against the specific stresses of bruxism. But it offers enhanced protection against impacts such as punches, kicks, and falls.

Night guards, on the other hand, feature designs and materials optimized for lightness and comfort. A single, thin layer of rigid or semi-rigid plastic provides a barrier between the top row of teeth and the bottom row. This barrier protects the teeth against each other by absorbing rubbing, grinding, and clenching forces.

  1. Activities That Call for Sports Mouth Guards

Sports mouth guards make sense for any activity that might pose the threat of a dental injury. The most obvious examples include sports such as boxing, martial arts, wrestling, hockey, lacrosse, football, field hockey, and soccer. These activities feature flying fists, feet, and objects that can chip, break, or even knock out your teeth.

Other activities may present a less urgent but still significant danger to your teeth. For instance, sports such as gymnastics, mountain biking, and skateboarding make you vulnerable to falls and collisions. An accident that drives you face-first into the ground, wall, or pole could destroy your teeth unless you wear a sports mouth guard.

  1. Types of Sports Mouth Guards

Sports mouth guards come in a variety of forms, styles, and fits. Some inexpensive products allow for no customization at all, giving you only a generic, one-size-fits-all solution. These products can prove excessively bulky and uncomfortable while offering little actual protection against impacts. They also fall out easily.

Boil-and-bite mouth guards represent the next step up from the stock mouth guards. These products feature a thermoplastic material that takes on a rough approximation of your bite when warmed by boiling water.

You’ll enjoy better protection, comfort, and retention in the mouth from a boil-and-bite mouth guard than you would from a stock mouth guard. However, you may find it tricky to get an accurate mold, and your boil-and-bite guard may wear out relatively quickly due to the thinness of the material.

Customized sports mouth guards provide the highest degrees of comfort, fit quality, durability, and cushioning ability. These mouth guards also allow for easier, clearer speech. While they cost more than other types of mouth guards, dental insurance or a dental membership plan may cover part of the cost.

  1. The Custom Mouth Guard Fitting Process

Custom sports mouth guards require a professional fitting at the dentist’s office. The dentist takes an impression of your bite using a putty-like material. Technicians use this negative impression to create a positive stone model. The stone model serves as the base for the creation of your custom mouth guard.

Dentists can choose between two techniques to create custom sports mouth guards. These include vacuum forming and pressure lamination. In the vacuum forming process, suction pressure pulls a single layer of polyvinyl acetate-polyethylene copolymer (EVA) plastic over the stone model to create the finished mouth guard.

The pressure lamination process employs positive pressure instead of negative pressure to fit the mouth guard precisely to the stone model. It also makes use of multiple layers of EVA instead of just one. The multiple layers allow for greater pressure during the molding process, resulting in a precise fit and unrivaled durability.

  1. Sports Mouth Guard Usage, Care, and Maintenance

Always brush your teeth and rinse out your mouth before you insert your sports mouth guard. This simple step can greatly reduce the accumulation of bacteria that might otherwise promote gum disease. Don’t chew on the mouth guard, since this habit can weaken the material or even make holes in it, shortening its useful life.

After you remove your sports mouth guard, brush and rinse again to get rid of any bacteria transferred from the mouth guard. Brush and rinse the mouth guard as well before putting it away.

Store your sports mouth guard in a suitable container, preferably one with air vents that will deter dampness and mold. Don’t forget to clean your mouth guard container periodically as an extra measure against bacteria.

Valley Oak Dental Group can evaluate your need and readiness for a sports mouth guard, recommend the ideal product for your specific needs, and provide a customized fit for optimal safety and comfort. Contact our dental clinic today for more information.

5 Benefits of Dental Membership Plans

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Dentist Explaining Patient X-ray Result

Going to the dentist without insurance quickly adds up with each appointment. As an alternative, consider signing up for a dental membership plan. This pre-paid membership is paid directly to the dentist offices and covers a whole year of visits. Memberships work differently than insurance, so for first-time membership purchases, learn about the benefits and what is included in your membership.

1. 12-Month Membership

A dental membership is based on a 12-month window. The membership lasts for a whole year but is not based on a calendar year. For example, if you sign up for a membership in July, the full membership will last until July of the next year. You do not lose your membership benefits at the end of December.

With the flexibility of the membership, you may time out the membership sign-up date to match your affordability. For example, if you typically file for a tax return in February, consider the annual membership from March to March. When each March rolls around, you will use part of the tax return to pay for the membership so you can easily afford payments.

If your job offers a quarterly bonus or holiday bonus, you may time the membership around the dates. Budget and plan accordingly to easily fit the membership into your spending.

Help Your Kids Stay on Track With Dental Care During Divorce

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Little Girl Brushing Teeth

Children often experience many changes during a divorce, but they don’t need to miss a step when it comes to their dental care. Your children’s oral health is affected by both their daily choices and habits. Regular visits to the dentist’s office is another big part of taking care of your children’s dental and overall health. Here’s how to help kids stay on top of their dental care during a divorce.

Get Duplicates of Toothbrushes and Other Dental Care Tools

Children who are going between two homes sometimes keep track of a lot of different items. When possible, get duplicates so kids won’t have to be consistently packing for each home. When it comes to dental care, make it as easy as possible for kids to stick to the healthy habits you worked hard to teach them. That includes having a toothbrush they love at each parent’s house.

CAlso make sure that your kids have floss, or the interdental cleaning device they like to use, and mouthwash in each home. If you have a dental care chart to track your kids’ habits, consider putting it online in a shared file so they can easily track their habits no matter which house they are in.

3 Ways to Pay for Dental Care Without Dental Insurance

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Woman Dental Care

Paying for dental care when you don’t have dental insurance isn’t as terrible a proposition as many people might believe. You may even find that some of the solutions out there are even better than using dental insurance. No matter your situation, you don’t have to avoid dental care because you think you can’t afford it. Here are several ways you can pay for dental care without dental insurance.

1. Look for Free or Discounted Local Services

Several options for free or nearly free dental services are out there. A few places to check include:

  • Dental schools
  • Public or free dental clinics
  • Volunteer or donated labor dental clinics

How to Care for Your Teeth if You’re Away From Home

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Black Girl with White Smile

If you spend long periods of time away from home, you need to care for your teeth even when your normal toothbrush, dental floss, and mouthwash aren’t on hand. Bacteria and plaque accumulate throughout the day regardless of where you are. Here are some tips to help you care for your teeth and keep them healthy when you aren’t home.

Avoid Sugar-Laden Foods

The most effective way to fight tooth decay is to prevent the bad bacteria that cause cavities in the first place, and you can greatly reduce the bacteria in your mouth by watching what you eat. Bacteria need certain food to grow on, and they won’t have any if you don’t eat the type of food that they like.

Electronic Cigarettes and the Impact on Your Oral Health

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E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are becoming a popular alternative to traditional cigarettes. Fewer chemicals are in e-cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a negative impact on your health, including your oral health. This is because e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, which will damage your gums and teeth.

Here is some important information about the impact of electronic cigarettes on your oral health.

Increased Risk of Oral Cancer

Traditional cigarettes contain tobacco leaves, which are treated with a variety of chemicals. Many of these chemicals, such as arsenic, benzene, and ethylene oxide are linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including oral cancer.