Protecting Yourself Against Oral Cancer | Bell Dentist

If there were a quick and painless way to identify pre-cancerous cells in the mouth of someone you loved, would you want them to try it? What if that person were you? The truth is, as uncomfortable as it may be to even think of the word “cancer,” thinking about it, and thus detecting it early, is key. That’s why, if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you should schedule a visit, because while the oral exam that accompanies your cleaning may not be noticeable to you, it’s often your earliest line of defense in the detection of oral cancer.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the risk factors and symptoms and consider a few options you may have to help reduce risk. Keep in mind that no list is exhaustive, and to always share with each of your health care providers your concerns and strategies regarding your oral health.

Those at Risk for Oral Cancer

Passing certain age thresholds and engaging in certain lifestyle habits can place you at increased risk for oral cancer. For example, men tend to have higher rates of oral cancers than women.

Here is the short list:

  • Patients aged 40 and older (95% of all oral cancer cases)
  • Patients aged 18-39 who use tobacco, are heavy drinkers, or may have a previously diagnosed oral HPV infection.

Warning Signs

If you experience any of the below symptoms lasting more than 7-10 days, please seek the advice of your doctor. Also, keep in mind that aside from an obviously sore throat, the below symptoms can present themselves in the absence of pain. Look out for changes that can be detected on the lips, inside the cheeks, palate, and gum tissue surrounding your teeth and tongue. At Dental Implant & Care Center, we occasionally run across such concerns a few times a year and are able to help patients get treatment early.

  • Reddish or whitish patches in the mouth
  • A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
  • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Reducing Risk

If you do not visit the dentist regularly, you could be missing out on the benefits of early cancer detection. Currently, just over half of all those diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years – a statistic driven by late diagnosis – so please visit your dentist and get an oral exam at least once a year. If you are considered “high risk,” (see list above) you should be receiving an oral exam at least every six months, if not more frequently.

Below is a short list of healthy habits you can start doing now, which may reduce your risk:

  • Avoid all tobacco products
  • Avoid or reduce your consumption of alcohol
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables (good for everything, of course)
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure that can result in cancer of the lip (using lip balm with an SPF of at least 30 can be helpful)
  • Avoid exposure to environmental hazards (wood dust, formaldehyde, printing chemicals)
  • Conduct a self-exam monthly so you can catch any of the symptoms listed above. Use a small hand-held mirror so you can see the back of your mouth and tongue Selma is a great person to ask for instructions on this sort of home exam. If you haven’t been in to see us in a while, give us a ring at (323) 312-0500 and we’ll show you how to perform this exam in between visits.
  • Consider coffee. While the jury is still out, some research suggests coffee may help protect the mouth from oral cancer.

Oral cancer is serious business. Yet, it can be managed when caught early. So, do the right thing and visit your dentist regularly and get that screening.

If you would like to find out more about oral cancer, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.

Proper Brushing FAQs | Bell Dentist

Mouth open or mouth closed?

After lunch or after dinner?

Flat or at an angle?

We brush our teeth every day (hopefully!), but who knew it was this complicated. Just grab a brush a get to work, right?

Not so fast, my friend! There are actually some best practices to be mindful of when brushing those pearly whites.

The trick is cutting through the fat and finding out exactly what works. We live in a world of alternate facts, truthiness, and lists of “7 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Clean Without Picking Up a Toothbrush.”  What’s even correct these days?!

Fear not, because we’ve got you covered with this handy FAQ (frequently asked questions) guide. We’ll keep it simple with some easy dos and don’ts of brushing. Let’s get to it!

Proper Brushing Habits

Don’t: Keep your brush flat

Do: Use a 45-degree angle when brushing

Don’t: Use looooooooong strokes. No need to cover your whole mouth in one stroke!

Do: Use short, side to side strokes

Don’t: Brush with the force of a giant. This isn’t a strongman contest!

Do: Gently cover all areas. A gentle touch helps prevent wear and tear on your enamel

Don’t: Go one and done

Do: Brush at least twice a day, especially after eating or drinking something acidic (like citrus or soda)

Don’t: Be sentimental and use the same toothbrush for life

Do: Change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. A trick to remember? Switch out on the first day of each season

Don’t: Be average – the average person brushes their teeth for 45 seconds

Do: Brush for a full 2 minutes. A helpful trick: say the alphabet while brushing a certain section, move to the next section after you hit Z.

Don’t: Keep your toothbrush in a closed container

Do: All your toothbrush to air dry

Don’t: Store your toothbrush on the sink counter where bathroom particles can get on it

Do: Store your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet

Don’t: Wield a tough-bristled brush

Do: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, which is much better for your tooth enamel

And there we have it! Some easy practices to keep that perfect smile. Remember: Brushing is only 4 minutes out of the day, so why not make it the best 4 minutes of the day!

If you would like to find out more about brushing your teeth, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.

Reasons You May Have a Dry Mouth | Bell Dentist

We all know drinking enough water is good for our health. And when you’re feeling parched, there’s nothing better than a tall drink of ice-cold water to dampen that dry mouth of yours.

But what do you do when you find yourself constantly needing to wet your whistle? There are numerous reasons you could be suffering from dry mouth. Below are the top five.

Physiologic. Sometimes having a dry mouth is just a normal part of life. Temporary anxiety, open-mouthed breathing, mild dehydration, menopause, pregnancy, and decreased saliva due to sleep are all normal causes of dry mouth.

Prescription medication. Sixty-three percent of the top 200 most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. are known to cause dry mouth. And the higher the number of medications a person takes, the higher the chance of dry mouth.

That’s why as we age, we tend to experience more instances of dry mouth. It’s not necessarily age-related, but our consumption of medication may cause this side effect.

Habitual use of alcohol and tobacco. Use of any of these products will dry out the oral cavity. Please drink in moderation, and make sure to up your water intake when you imbibe. As for tobacco, we always recommend quitting as soon as possible.

Chronic disease. Diabetes, Sjogren’s disease, Sarcoidosis, Hepatitic C can all cause dry mouth.

Psychogenic or idiopathic. When symptoms are present without an identifiable cause (idiopathic), or because of psychological causes (psychogenic), they can be difficult to diagnose.

If you find yourself with a persistent, unidentifiable case of dry mouth, you should make an appointment at (323) 312-0500.

Figuring out which one is causing your dry mouth is so important because a dry mouth has a big effect on your dental health. Saliva is so important for swishing away bacteria.

The dryer the mouth, the more prone you are to cavities, bad breath, and gingivitis. This is just one more reason it is important to practice good daily dental hygiene practices and regular checkups.

If you would like to find out more about dry mouth, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.

What Is Plaque? | Bell Dentist

Most people have heard of the word “plaque,” and know it’s not something you want on your teeth. Yet, they don’t know what exactly plaque is or how it contributes to dental decay.

Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that lives on the surface of your teeth and along the gumline. It accumulates from normal daily activities such as eating and drinking, especially if you’ve been consuming a lot of sugars and starches.

Ever had that fuzzy feeling on your teeth that goes away after you give them a good brush?

Yep, that’s plaque.

Plaque is what contributes to dental decay, as bacteria like to consume the sugars in your mouth and excrete acids that wear away at your tooth enamel.

When you don’t regularly brush and floss away plaque, it forms tartar. Tartar is the calcified substance on your teeth that only a professional cleaning can remove. If you think you need to schedule a professional cleaning, we are open from 10 am – 7 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 9 am – 2 pm on Saturday for those who need a weekend appointment.

To regularly remove plaque:

1. Brush thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.

2. Floss at least once a day to remove plaque that your brush can’t reach.

3. Visit us for your regular dental cleanings.

If you would like to find out more about plaque, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.

How Being Vegan Affects Your Health | Bell Dentist

There is no doubt that a plant-based diet is optimal for health. Omnivores and vegans alike benefit from the nutrients present in plants.

But how does what we eat relate to our dental health?

Is a vegan diet better or worse for dental health?

Well, it depends. There are some concerns for oral health when one consumes a vegan diet. Here are the main ones:

Vitamin B12 deficiency. A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Vegans should supplement with adequate B12, as plants do not provide this important nutrient. But don’t worry – if you have tooth loss, we have plenty of ways to repair the damage.

Lack of remineralizing foods. Remineralization occurs when essential minerals that support hardened, healthy enamel are resupplied to the tooth after loss caused by acid erosion. The best remineralizing foods include cheese, meat, and milk, but nuts and leafy greens can also help.

Lack of important amino acids. One example is the amino acid arginine, which is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. Arginine helps prevent cavities and gum disease by breaking down dental plaque. While arginine is found in higher quantities in meat, vegan sources of arginine include pumpkin seeds, peanuts, soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas.

Calcium concerns. Your body needs enough calcium to support healthy teeth and gums. Vegans need to supplement their diet with plenty of plant sources that contain calcium (almonds, leafy greens, beans, etc.) as well as fortified vegan milks (almond, soy, rice, etc.).

Frequent snacking. Continual snacking provides an environment for bacteria to thrive and attack your tooth’s enamel. Vegans may be more prone to frequent snacking in an effort to meet their body’s need for energy. You may find eating meals with a higher fat content helps you stay full for longer periods of time.

More sugars/starches in the diet. It can be easy as a vegan to eat a diet based on sweet/starchy foods like fruits and grains (cereal, bread, pasta, crackers, rice, etc.). But the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay thrive on sugar. Make sure to round out your diet with non-sugary foods, such as tofu, nuts, seeds, and plenty of vegetables.

If you’re a vegan, you already know you have to be mindful of certain key nutrients that you may need to focus on or supplement in your diet. Keep this list in mind to ensure your dental health is also in tip-top shape!

If you would like to find out more about veganism, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.

Foods that Cause Tooth Decay | Bell Dentist

When it comes to tooth decay, it’s important to know the main culprit – acid. Acid is what eats away at our enamel and causes cavities. Acid can enter our mouths in one of two ways: either directly through what we eat (citrus fruits, for example), or as a byproduct when oral bacteria consume the sugars that we eat.

Ultimately, a simple way to identify foods that cause tooth decay is to ask whether it’s acidic or sweet/starchy. Acidic foods include things like citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, kombucha and sour candy. Sweet/starchy foods include things like candy, soda or sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit, bread, cereal, pasta and crackers.

The longer these things interact with your teeth, the greater the chance for tooth decay to occur. For example, sipping on soda throughout the day, or chewing a gooey caramel treat, increases the amount of sugar that coat your teeth. Bacteria love to feast on this sugar, creating an acidic environment and putting your teeth at risk for decay.

To help protect your teeth against tooth decay:

  • Reduce your consumption of sweets and refined starches
  • Enjoy acidic foods in moderation or as part of a meal
  • Decrease or eliminate your consumption of soda or sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Swish with water after meals and snacks
  • Maintain good oral hygiene to brush away plaque buildup (floss at least once a day and brush twice a day)

And, as always, make sure to visit us regularly so we can remove tartar buildup and assess for early signs of decay.

If you would like to find out more about the causes of tooth decay, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.

What to Do When You Cracked a Tooth | Bell Dentist

Ouch! Did you chomp on something your tooth didn’t like? Or get hit in the mouth with a hockey puck?

If you think you may have a cracked tooth, or if you’re holding a piece of your tooth in your hand, follow these steps!

1. Give us a call to schedule an appointment 323-312-0500 or click here. Let us know about your emergency and we will make our best effort to see you right away.

2. If there are tooth fragments that have fallen out, preserve them in a clean container with a moist solution (cold milk, water, saliva), and bring them in to your appointment.

3. Apply a cold pack to your jaw to lessen any pain and swelling.

4. If bleeding, bite down on a gauze pad until bleeding stops.

It is possible to have a cracked tooth and not know it. If you have any pain when biting down, or when eating something hot or cold, it’s best to get it checked out.

In order to prevent further damage to the tooth or an infection, it’s very important to correct a cracked tooth immediately.

If you would like to find out more about dental emergencies, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.

Choosing the Right Toothpaste | Bell Dentist

A lot of folks ask us what toothpaste we recommend. Our answer? Any fluoride toothpaste that will help you maintain a good oral health routine!

We know you have a million and one choices facing you in the toothpaste aisle, and it can be hard to figure out what’s best for you. Most people, however, can use any toothpaste that has the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval. This seal means that the toothpaste contains fluoride, has the right amount of abrasiveness (not too little and not too much) and has been shown to be both safe and effective for intended use.

If you have any sensitivity to dyes, preservatives, or certain ingredients, opt for a toothpaste that is free of those! Just make sure it has fluoride.

We can’t say it enough: fluoride is your best form of cavity prevention!

Ask us at your next visit if there’s a special kind of toothpaste that we recommend for your specific needs.

If you would like to find out more about toothpaste, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.

Effects of Soda on Your Teeth | Bell Dentist

Ever seen those videos where someone puts a baby tooth in a glass of soda and watches it decay? Well, the effect of soda in an actual mouth is a bit different. You have your saliva to help wash away the sugar, you eat other things throughout the day, and brush at least twice a day to remove debris or plaque.

Nevertheless, soda is not something we recommend you consume more often than a once-in-awhile treat. Here’s why:

Sugar. Soda has an extremely high sugar content. The bacteria that cause tooth decay feed off of sugar and excrete acid, which is what causes tooth decay. The more sugar our teeth have to interact with, the more prone to decay they will be.

Acid. Think diet soda is a better alternative? Even though it contains zero sugar, it can still contain acids such as phosphoric acid or citric acid. Acid eats away at a tooth’s enamel and leaves it prone to decay.

Colors. Caramel color, Yellow 5, etc. Any type of artificial coloring can cause tooth-staining. If you prefer your teeth sparkling white, it’s best to stay away from soda.

Instead of soda, we recommend spicing up your daily beverages with other alternatives. How about some sparkling water or plain water infused with fresh fruit? When you do drink soda, make sure to rinse with water afterwards. And, as always, keep up with regular brushing and flossing to protect those precious teeth!

If you would like to find out more about the effects of soda on your teeth, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.

Electrical or Manual Toothbrushes: Which Is Better? | Bell Dentist

This is one of our most frequently asked questions! Our answer? It’s not the brush that matters, it’s who’s doing the brushing.

Let’s break that down. The goal of tooth brushing is to remove plaque from your teeth on a consistent (daily!) basis, so that we prevent the buildup of tartar which leads to tooth decay. A manual toothbrush is a great and inexpensive tool that helps us do just that. Make sure to brush two minutes per day, twice a day. Gently brush ALL surfaces and make sure to reach those back molars.

For some people, it can be difficult to brush properly with a manual toothbrush. Those with some form of motor disability or arthritis may benefit from using an electric toothbrush. An electric brush can also be helpful for kids or anyone with braces.

The same tooth brushing rules apply – two times per day, two minutes at a time. One advantage of an electric toothbrush is that some have a built-in timer. If you’re one of those quick brushers who has a hard time making it to two minutes, consider using a timed electric brush.

At your next dental visit, ask us whether we think you would do better with a manual or electric brush! And, as always, don’t forget to floss!

If you would like to find out more about toothbrush options, contact Dr. Ahmadi at 323-312-0500 to schedule a consultation or visit www.dentalimplantcare.com for additional information.

Dr. Mike Ahmadi proudly serves Bell and all surrounding areas.