The Debate about Amalgam Fillings

In the past, metal fillings were the only option for dentists who needed to repair teeth damaged by decay. Amalgam materials were cheap, durable, and easy to use. While metal fillings restored tooth structure, they were not without drawbacks. Over time, these restorations could darken, taking away from a bright, white smile. Additionally, amalgam fillings can change shape and leak, creating other dental health issues.

At this point, most dentists use composite fillings. Not only do tooth-colored fillings produce attractive results, but they also strengthen remaining tooth structure. Because the composite materials actually bond to the tooth, they won’t crack or shift like amalgams. Composite fillings also require less removal of healthy tooth tissue, which allows your dentist to perform a more conservative repair.

Part of the issue with amalgam fillings comes from the mercury found in metal restorations. Exposure to mercury can result in memory problems, tremors, mood swings, and headaches as well as brain and kidney damage. Concerns occur because the metal fillings can allow mercury to leach into your mouth and increase your risk of side effects. In some cases, amalgam filling materials contain up to 50 percent mercury.

If you are worried about the health risks associated with metal fillings, talk with your dentist. To ensure your safety, your doctor can check your older restorations and make sure they are in good condition. Some patients decide to replace any metal fillings with composite restorations as a precaution. Fillings that have started leaking should definitely be removed.

Rolinda Harsany DDS Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Napa California

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Metal Tongue Piercings Increase Infection Risks

Earlier this year, a study was released that suggested that metal tongue piercings create a greater risk of infection than plastic studs. Researchers in Europe interviewed 80 participants who ranged in age from 16 to 36 years old and included both men and women. They found that stainless steel posts and titanium studs generated more bacteria than the plastic options when the piercings were examined. In fact, scientists found traces of the Staphylococcus aureus and Haemophilus influenza bacteria, which can cause whole body illness.

This research underscores the risks associated with mouth piercing. Though many people consider it an expression of individuality, it can come with very real concerns, such as:

Chipped or broken teeth
A common problem, cracked and fractured teeth must be repaired with a filling or crown. Over time, repeated damage can weaken the effected teeth.

Blood Loss
Because your tongue contains several blood vessels, you could end up in the hospital if one of those vessels is perforated during the piercing.

Need for orthodontic treatment
Depending on what you select, the piercing can actually change the position of your teeth. Crooked teeth will then require orthodontic intervention to correct the misalignment.

Risk of disease
As previously mentioned, a piercing in your mouth can introduce an infection, which could spread to the rest of your body and make you very sick. Improperly sterilized instruments could also expose you to serious health issues like hepatitis and HIV.

Chronic pain
If the piercing hits the wrong spot, you could sustain never damage that may cause lasting problems.

We care about your dental health at our Family and Cosmetic Dental practice in Napa, California – Rolinda Harsany DDS

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Surprising Facts about Dentures

If missing teeth have compromised your smile and oral health, dentures can help. Unfortunately, many people have misconceptions about dentures so they live with incomplete smiles. Separating the reality from common myths can help you make the best decision for your dental health.

Myth: Dentures will last forever
Fact: Though your prosthetic teeth are designed to withstand normal wear, they can get damaged if they are dropped, left to dry out, or placed in hot water. With time, dentures can change in appearance or function.

Myth: People can tell when you wear dentures, which is embarrassing
Fact: Usually, the signs of dentures, like slippage, odors, or stains, occur because of poor maintenance. Cleaning your prosthetic and storing it as recommended will help your dentures function properly.

Myth: With dentures, you can’t eat or speak normally
Fact: Although you can’t eat everything you want, most denture wearers can eat a healthy, balanced diet. If you experience persistent speech or eating problems, contact your dentist.

Myth: I can fix the dentures myself
Fact: You might be handy with cars or electronics, but don’t attempt to adjust your dentures because you can cause damage and possibly ruin your dental appliance.

Myth: You don’t have to visit the dentist if you have dentures
Fact: Not only does your mouth still need attention, but your dentures require care too. When you visit the dentist, your doctor will check your mouth for signs of oral cancer and other conditions that can show symptoms in the mouth, such as diabetes. Your dentist will also examine your dentures to make sure nothing is loose and that the prosthetic is in good shape.

Visit our Family and Cosmetic Dental practice in Napa, CA. – Rolinda Harsany DDS

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Why You Should Brush Twice a Day

Though your dentist often reminds you about the need to brush in the morning and at night, most people may not understand the significance. Brushing twice a day is an important part of maintaining good oral health. Consider these reasons to keep up your brushing habits:

Fluoride Protection

One of the best ways to prevent cavities is fluoride. When you brush before bed, you apply a layer of fluoride on your teeth, which is the first line of defense while you sleep. In the morning, brushing right away helps strengthen that protection.

Removal of Bacteria

Your mouth contains harmful bacteria that produce plaque and weaken enamel. If you only brush once a day, these bacteria have 24 hours to wreak havoc on your teeth and gums, but twice-daily brushing cuts that time in half.

Prevention of Tartar Build Up

When plaque hardens, it becomes tartar. The only way to remove tartar once it forms is with a professional cleaning. By brushing twice a day, you can remove plaque before it can calcify and cause oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay.

Protection of Gums

Frequent brushing helps stimulate gums and keep them healthy. If you don’t take good care of your gums, you risk developing periodontal disease, a serious oral health condition that can result in bone degeneration, receding gums, and tooth loss.

Keep Breath Fresh

Nobody wants bad breath. Brushing twice a day helps remove food particles and the bacteria that can cause halitosis. For optimal freshness, consider brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper.

Caring for your dental health at Rolinda Harsany DDS – Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Napa, CA

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Oral Cancer Receives the Spotlight This April

Each year, approximately 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer. Because oral cancer is usually identified in the later stages, the survival rate often hovers near 20 percent. But with early detection, the survival rate increases to approximately 75 percent. Last year, actor Michael Douglas publicly detailed his fight against oral cancer.

To increase general knowledge in this country, the Oral Cancer Foundation has designated April as Oral Cancer Awareness Month. One important component of finding and treating oral cancer is regular screenings by your dentist. During your routine visit, your dentist will examine your mouth and look for anything suspicious. Some dental providers use special screening devices such as a VELscope or ViziLite.

Often, oral cancer starts out with mild symptoms so it may go undiagnosed. Common signs of oral cancer include a sore or lesion that won’t heal, continued hoarseness, prolonged sore throat, and difficulty swallowing. If you have any concerns, make sure to let your dentist know right away.

Certain factors can increase your risk of oral cancer, such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV). In general, more men than women develop oral cancer. Oral cancer tends to strike people over age 40, but the disease has started to appear more frequently in younger patients.

To lessen your risks of oral cancer, follow these tips:

• Contact your doctor immediately if you experience unusual symptoms
• Eat a healthy diet
• Limit alcohol intake
• Protect your face and lips from sun exposure
• Stop tobacco use
• Visit your dentist for routine checkups

Rolinda Harsany DDS Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Napa California

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Achieve the White Smile You Have Always Wanted

As we age, our teeth naturally yellow and look darker. The foods we eat and lifestyle choices we make can also hasten this process. If you would love to enjoy a bright, vibrant smile, several different options exist to help you attain the desired results. Having a gorgeous set of pearly whites can boost confidence and improve self esteem, so why not make an investment in yourself?

In-Office Whitening
With chairside whitening, your dentist can remove discolorations and brighten teeth up to 10 shades in one appointment. Products such as Zoom! Whitening or BriteSmile can make you look and feel years younger.

Professional Take-Home Kits
Some individuals prefer to whiten on their own timetables or to control the level of brightness. At-home whitening produces stunning results in just 10 to 14 days. Your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and send these molds off to a lab for creation of your custom trays. Simply apply the professional-strength gel as directed by your dentist, and wear the trays for the specified time period.

Store-Bought Whiteners
These days, you can find rows of whitening products at your local grocer or drug store. Although these options are much cheaper than professional whitening through your dentist, over-the-counter whitening agents may not work as well and they can cause sensitivity or damage to teeth or gums if not used properly. It’s best to whiten your teeth under the guidance of your dentist.

Home Remedies
You should always be careful about what you try at home, but these simple tips can temporarily give your smile a little pizzazz:

• Use a toothpaste with baking soda, which lightens stains
• Eat crunchy foods like carrots, apples, and celery to naturally remove surface stains
• Choose clothes with dark colors to help bring out the white in your smile

Bright, new smiles at Rolinda Harsany DDS, Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Napa, California.

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Taking Care of Your Toothbrush

You want your smile to look great and stay healthy, which requires some effort on your part. Properly caring for your teeth and gums promotes good oral health. One important component of home care is getting the right toothbrush and keeping it in good shape.

When you buy a toothbrush, make sure to find one with soft bristles. Brushing should clean teeth without damaging the surfaces or gums, so most dentist recommend soft bristled brushes. Whether you choose a manual or electric toothbrush is less important than choosing a brush you will use on a regular basis.

Generally, you need to replace your toothbrush every three months. Over time the bristles break or become frayed, causing them to lose their effectiveness. If you catch a cold or develop an infection in your mouth, throw out the brush immediately and replace it with a new one to prevent re-infection.

Once you have cleaned your teeth, remember to take care of your toothbrush. If food particles aren’t rinsed away, bacteria can grow on your teeth, even if you aren’t sick. Inspect your brush to make sure nothing is stuck between the bristles and completely rinse it out; then, allow the toothbrush to air dry over night. Placing it in a drawer or covering it with a case seals in the moisture and promotes bacteria growth.

To prevent the spreading of germs, make sure you don’t store your toothbrush wear it can touch another brush. As far as toothbrush etiquette goes, you should never share your brush with another person. If you have any doubts about contamination, be safe and throw the brush out.

Schedule a visit with our Family and Cosmetic Dental practice in Napa, CA. – Rolinda Harsany DDS

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Why It’s Important to Visit the Dentist

With little improvement in the economy, reduced wages, job loss, and health care costs on the rise, people are cutting expenses wherever they can. Often, people start by forging dental appointments. Other times, dental visits are seen as optional and fall off the list of priorities. Before you cancel your next appointment, think about the importance of dental care:

You can save time and money. Everyone has heard the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Keeping regular checkups on the calendar allows your dentist to monitor your oral health and catch a small problem, such as a cavity, before it turns into a larger issue, like a root canal.

Dental visits can improve your appearance. If you want to maintain a vibrant smile, regular appointments can help. A professional cleaning and polishing will remove build up, allowing your smile to really sparkle.

Routine checkups keep your oral health in good shape. Gum disease, tooth decay, and TMD can compromise your dental health. Without treatment, these issues can wreak havoc on your mouth and cause serious damage. At your regular appointment, your dentist will discuss options to address any problems and protect your smile long-term.

Your dentist can detect other health problems. In many cases, your mouth shows signs of overall health issues. For example, X-rays of your teeth can indicate the development of osteoporosis, a condition that causes weakening and brittleness in bones.

It’s time to schedule a visit to our Family and Cosmetic Dental practice in Napa, CA. – Rolinda Harsany DDS

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Maintain a Healthy Smile during Pregnancy

Expectant mothers get lots of advice while they are pregnant. Well-meaning friends may tell you to get plenty of rest, avoid alcohol, and take prenatal vitamins. One area that frequently gets overlooked is dental care. Paying attention to your teeth during pregnancy can have an impact on your wellbeing as well as on the health of your unborn child. The following tips can help you maintain a vibrant smile during this special time:

Eat a balanced diet. Not only will this ensure that the baby gets the proper nutrients, but choosing fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy options will also make your teeth less susceptible to tooth decay.

Keep up home health habits. Make sure to brush at least twice a day and floss regularly. If you have morning sickness and are frequently vomiting, rinse your mouth out if you can’t brush to remove the acids from your teeth.

Schedule regular dental checkups. Although you should avoid x-rays and optional cosmetic work during pregnancy, visit your dentist for a routine exam and cleaning. This appointment will give your practitioner a chance to monitor your oral health and look for any signs of pregnancy gingivitis, inflammation of the gums that occurs while you are pregnant.

Immediately contact your dentist about any issues. If you notice bleeding while you brush or if you develop a toothache, call your dentist’s office right away. The problem won’t go away on its own, and ignoring the symptoms could make things worse for you or your baby.

Rolinda Harsany DDS Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Napa California

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Preventing Tooth Decay in Kids

Second only to the common cold, tooth decay is one of the most prevalent conditions in this country. Starting your children on the path to lifelong oral health means teaching them the importance of taking good care of their teeth. The following tips can help you protect the health and beauty of your child’s smile:

Schedule a first dental visit. Many dentist recommend bringing your child in on or around the first birthday, and definitely by age three. Primary, or baby, teeth allow your child to speak clearly and chew naturally. As well, baby teeth serve as placeholders for permanent teeth, so you need to take your child to the dentist for regular checkups.

Give up the bottle. Young children can develop early tooth decay, also called baby bottle mouth, when parents let them go to sleep with milk or juice bottles. The best plan is to wean your child of the bottle by age one, but if that isn’t possible, make sure you only fill the bottle with water before bedtime.

Use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps young children develop strong teeth, so it’s important to start brushing with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste once most of the baby teeth have erupted.

Encourage healthy eating. A balanced diet promotes overall health, including your teeth and gums. Limit intake of carbohydrates, sugary treats, and acidic foods, which can weaken enamel and increase the chances for cavities. Instead, offer snacks like crunchy vegetables, cheese, and yogurt, which are good for your teeth.

Your oral health is our priority at Rolinda Harsany DDS – Cosmetic and Family Dentistry in Napa, CA.

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