Brush Up on Back-to-School Oral Health

As the summer starts to wind down and our focus starts to shift from beach days to backpacks and binders, it’s also a valuable time to remember our kids’ oral health. Whether you’re sending your student off to college or just starting his journey in kindergarten, incorporating a dental exam into your child’s back-to-school preparation is essential. Here’s your back-to-school oral health checklist.

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The Fluoride Debate

There’s no shortage of controversial topics on the news most evenings, but there’s at least one topic that shouldn’t be as controversial as it seems. It’s the great debate many towns across America are facing these days: to fluoridate or not to fluoridate the water - that, as they say, is the question. So, who’s right: The anti-fluoride activists who claim that fluoridating the water supply can cause everything from low IQ to cancer, or the medical community who say fluoridating the water helps reduce dental caries (cavities)? Decide for yourself.

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Wise Investment or Waste of Money?

Self-brushing toothbrushes. Waterpiks. UV teeth-whitening lights. With so many oral health innovations on the marketing – and so many more coming out each year - it can be overwhelming to consumers to know which products work, and which ones just aren't worth the investment. After all, why spend $200 on a whitening kit if it’s no more effective than your $4 whitening toothpaste? Here, we'll go over some of the more popular at-home products to help you decide which ones to buy.

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Don’t Try This at Home: Leave This Repair to the Experts

There’s a certain sense of accomplishment you can only get from completing a do-it-yourself (or DIY) project – especially if that project is something you’ve never tried before. But sometimes in life there are DIY projects that you really shouldn’t do yourself, not just because they’re too difficult, but also because they can be extremely dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Such is the case with many at-home dental treatments. While some may promise results that rival a professional job, the risks involved make them not worth the effort. Here’s one dental treatment you should definitely not try at home.

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Life Hack: Caring for Teeth with Braces

It’s no secret that orthodontic treatment can be a major investment. Even if your insurance plan covers them partially, there is often a lifetime max that may or may not allow you to treat other members of the family later. Suffice it to say, when you get braces, it’s in your own best interest to take care of your teeth. After all, you wouldn’t buy a Ferrari and then never change the oil, right? What’s the point of investing all that money in your teeth only to neglect caring for them while they’re being treated?

That being said, caring for teeth with braces can be extremely difficult. All those wires and brackets, expanders, rubber bands - even clear aligners have their own set of challenges. So how do you care for your teeth with all these obstacles in the way? Sure, there are tried-and-true methods, but they take time and can be difficult - and that’s just for adults. If you have teens or children with braces, you can pretty much guarantee they’re not taking care of their braces as carefully as they should be. If you’re doing the braces-cleaning labor for your kids, that’s great - but even guardians can use a helping hand, right?

Thankfully, there are some hacks that simplify care for your orthodontics. Try these methods for a faster - but no less effective - orthodontic cleaning experience.

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What Happens When Adult Teeth Don’t Come In?

Growing up, there are many things we can usually rely on in life. We will most likely get taller, our bodies will get stronger, and our baby, or primary, teeth will fall out and be replaced by adult, or permanent, teeth. But sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. We may not get very tall or have muscles like The Rock, and sometimes we don’t get all our adult teeth like we should. For some people, the baby tooth that’s keeping the place for the MIA adult tooth never falls out, so at least there isn't an empty space where a tooth should be. But just because there’s a tooth in that spot doesn’t mean it should stay there. If you’re an adult with a not-so-grown-up baby tooth hanging around in your mouth, here’s why you should consider having it removed.

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Skip the Tooth Jewelry Trend, Please!

It wasn’t too long ago that you couldn’t turn on the TV or open an entertainment magazine without seeing the form of tooth-jewelry known as a grill. If you don’t remember that unfortunate time in oral-health history, grills are those silver or gold plates that fit over the front teeth that are often decorated with jewels. Grills can be removable or permanently adhered to the teeth- and are often considered a status symbol. But grills have their downside, too. Aside from looking aesthetically unattractive to many, the American Dental Association has warned that permanent grills can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Removable grills carry a much lower risk but can still damage the teeth- especially if they don’t fit properly. Thankfully, the grill trend has mostly died down, but a new way to ‘bling out’ the teeth is on the rise, and users should proceed with caution.

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What Makes Some Veneers Better Than Others?

Porcelain veneers can make a big difference in changing the look and feel of your teeth - but not all veneers are created equally. While you may think that any veneer is better than no veneer, this isn’t always true. After all, if you’re making the investment in your smile, doesn’t it make sense to do the job right the first time? Don’t settle for mediocre or bad veneers if you don’t have to!

Curious about what sets a good veneer apart from a bad veneer? Here’s what you should know before taking the plunge into porcelain veneers.

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Botox From the Dentist?

You may never have known about it, but across America, there’s a controversy that’s been brewing for years involving a very popular cosmetic filler. That’s because, depending on where you live, your dentist may be able to inject you with the cosmetic filler Botox - and not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.

Here in California, dentists cannot inject patients with Botox for cosmetic purposes. Many other states have the same law. This was done to protect patients from practitioners who may not have the skills and training to administer Botox. However, dentists arguably know the muscles and nerves around the mouth and face better than any other type of doctor, including plastic surgeons.

The good news is that your dentist can inject you with Botox for medical purposes! In fact, you may never have realized it, but Botox can be used to help alleviate the pain from some very common dental issues.

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How to Handle Dental Faux Pas


It’s a scenario we’ve probably all encountered at least once before, and if you haven’t yet, chances are you will eventually: the dental faux pas. Boss got broccoli stuck in his teeth? Co-worker with offensive breath? New boyfriend’s mother has lipstick on her teeth? How do you tell someone you aren’t exactly BFFs with that they’ve got a dental hygiene problem without making the situation worse?

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Don’t Wait Too Long to Start Children’s Orthodontic Treatment


A question many parents ask when they bring their child to the dentist is, "When should I have my child evaluated for braces?" Many parents notice as their child’s baby teeth fall out and their permanent teeth begin growing in that those permanent teeth aren’t growing in as straight and evenly spaced as the baby teeth. This naturally causes some crowding, and even some alarm. Thankfully, there’s no reason to panic. Orthodontics doesn’t have to be scary or complicated. Here’s what you should know about planning an orthodontic treatment for your child.

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What’s the Difference Between These Dental Professionals?


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_288954563.jpgYou may have noticed that some dentists have different letters at the end of their names. For example, Dr. Abelar’s title is "Martin P. Abelar, DDS." You may have also noticed other dentists who have the letters DMD at the end of their name. So, what’s the difference between DDS and DMD? And while we’re on the subject, what’s the difference between a dentist, periodontist, orthodontist and maxillofacial surgeon? Or between a dental hygienist and a dental assistant? Is one more qualified than the other? Here’s the lowdown on the differences in titles and abbreviations in dentistry.

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Dental Safety Gear Explained


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_587430104.jpgIf you’ve ever set foot inside a dental practice, chances are you’ve noticed a few things that set the dental office staff apart from the patients. We’re not just talking about the fact that they are performing your exam - they are also dressed differently than patients. So, what’s the deal with the garb? Why does your dental staff wear certain articles of clothing and protective gear?

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Drinking for Better Teeth?


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_160629524.jpgWith spring here and everyone heading back outside to enjoy the beautiful weather, it’s of paramount importance to stay hydrated. In fact, it's absolutely vital to our survival, since much of our bodies are made up of water. Did you know that 80 percent of our blood is made of water, and that 85 percent of our brain is water? Even 70 percent of our muscle tissue is water! So staying hydrated is absolutely crucial to our survival.

Of course, not everyone loves water. It’s not fizzy or flavored, not colored, and it doesn’t really do much to boost your energy level like a cup of coffee would. Thankfully for those of us who cannot exist on water alone, there are a bevy of beverage options to choose from out there. But you may be left wondering which of these options are actually good for our teeth - and which of them are really bad. Here’s the lowdown on some surprisingly good (and maybe surprisingly bad!) drink options for our oral health.

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How Much Pain Is Normal with New Braces?


b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_486598651.jpgBraces are one of those necessary evils that nobody particularly wants but almost nobody regrets getting once they come off. The good news is that they usually work really well - and they don’t stay on forever (despite how it feels sometimes!). The bad news is that, unfortunately, they aren’t always the most comfortable or easy-to-clean oral appliances. If you’re hesitant about getting braces because of a fear of potential discomfort, check out this blog about what to expect when you get braces.

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Bacteria Gum Could Help Improve Oral Health

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_3156379.jpgStreptococcus salivarius. It sounds like a bad guy from a Harry Potter book - and in the right conditions, it really is a bad guy to the harmful bacteria in your mouth. But when used to fight that harmful bacteria, Streptococcus salivarius (or S. salivarius) can be extremely beneficial to your overall oral health. That’s because S. salivarius is what is known as a probiotic bacterium, a good bacterium that destroys other, bad bacteria - namely the kind responsible for everything from cavities to bad breath.

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Love Red Wine? Here’s One More Reason to Raise a Glass

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_486675022.jpgIf you follow health news, chances are you’ve probably already heard of something called a polyphenol. Polyphenols are compounds that contain multiple phenolic hydroxyl groups, or any compound that contains six-membered aromatic rings that are directly bonded to a hydroxyl group. While this probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to the average person, the important takeaway is that polyphenols are good for you. They have been found to do everything from acting as an antioxidant, which can reduce and prevent health issues including heart disease and diabetes, to acting as a prebiotic, which can increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, aiding in digestion, weight management and even disease prevention.

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Common Questions About Dental Implants

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_294243569.jpgWhether you are already missing teeth or you are facing the loss of a permanent tooth, an increasingly popular solution is the installation of dental implants. A dental implant is a permanent prosthetic tooth (crown) that secures via a metal post that is implanted into the jaw. When properly installed, the crown looks and feels just like a natural tooth. But in order to achieve a flawless installation, there are some steps you should take before you even lose the tooth your crown is replacing. If you’re considering dental implants, here are some facts you should consider.

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Adults and Braces

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_404002636.jpgBe honest: When you think about wearing braces, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For most adults, it's probably those already-awkward teen years spent with your teeth crisscrossed in painful metal brackets that not only made you feel self-conscious, but also robbed you of the many joys of teen and preteen fun, like bubblegum, potato chips and, yes, even first kisses. But today, braces – and the faces of those who wear them – are changing. Braces aren’t just for kids anymore. In fact, here at Dr. Abelar’s practice, the average age of braces wearers is not a tender 14, but 40!

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How to Cut Costs at the Dentist

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_331734899.jpgThe new year is in full swing, bringing with it new goals, new resolutions and, yes, even new insurance plans. For many Americans, a new policy, or changes to an old policy, can be very stressful, especially if your coverage has changed.

One area where coverage can often be seriously lacking is in dental care. In fact, even though more Americans have dental coverage today than ever before, out-of-pocket costs have never been higher. So even if you do have insurance, there’s a good chance you’re still paying more money out of pocket than you would have 20 years ago for the same services. For an individual, these costs can be hard to manage - but for a family, they can be devastating.

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