Monday, December 29, 2008
Dr. Planells devotes her practice time to both orthodontics and pediatric dentistry. She’s on staff at Kaiser Hospital in Bellflower and Long Beach Memorial Medical Center Miller Children’s Hospital. Currently she is a clinical instructor at UCLA in the department of Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Planells is also a trainer for the California Dental Association/Dental Health Foundation First 5 Program.
Dr. Planells is a member of a number of dental professional organizations including: the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Association of Orthodontics, the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontics, and the Harbor Dental Society. Currently, she is the Chair of the Child Advocacy Subcommittee for the California Society of Pediatric Dentistry.
Dr. Planells was born and raised in Southern California. In her leisure time she enjoys cooking, traveling and learning new languages.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Dr. Sanchez has served as a member and officer on several professional organizations. Currently, she is a board member and chair of the Continuing Education Committee for the California Society of Pediatric Dentistry. She also serves as secretary for the Latinos for Dental Careers-USC Chapter. Dr. Sanchez is also a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the California Dental Association, the American Dental Association, the Harbor Dental Association, and the Hispanic Dental Association.
Dr. Sanchez is mother to three teenagers, David, Alysia and Steven. She has been active on parent/ teacher associations and has been involved with fundraising committees for her children’s schools. She enjoys her leisure time being the family historian and taking different dance classes.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Currently, he’s a clinical instructor at USC in the department of Advanced Pediatric Dentistry. He is a consultant for the southeast Head-Start Program and is an Advisor at the Children’s Dental Health Clinic in Long Beach. He’s on the Board of Directors for Miller Children’s Hospital, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Memorial Health Services. He is also on the Government Affairs Committee for the California Dental Association. Dr. Cortez has been on the Cleft Palate Board at Miller Children’s Hospital/Stramski Center.
On a personal note, he is married and has three grown children. He enjoys skiing, hiking, mountain biking and kayaking.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Dental insurance is meant to be an aid in receiving dental care. Many patients think that their insurance pays 90%-100% of all dental fees. This is not true! Most plans only pay between 50%-80% of the average total fee. Some pay more, some pay less. The percentage paid is usually determined by how much you or your employer has paid for coverage or the type of contract your employer has set up with the insurance company.
Fact 2 - BENEFITS ARE NOT DETERMINED BY OUR OFFICE
You may have noticed that sometimes your dental insurer reimburses you or the dentist at a lower rate than the dentist's actual fee. Frequently, insurance companies state that the reimbursement was reduced because your dentist's fee has exceeded the usual, customary, or reasonable fee ("UCR") used by the company.
A statement such as this gives the impression that any fee greater than the amount paid by the insurance company is unreasonable or well above what most dentists in the area charge for a certain service. This can be very misleading and simply is not accurate.
Insurance companies set their own schedules and each company uses a different set of fees they consider allowable. These allowable fees may vary widely because each company collects fee information from claims it processes. The insurance company then takes this data and arbitrarily chooses a level they call the "allowable" UCR Fee. Frequently this data can be three to five years old and these "allowable" fees are set by the insurance company so they can make a net 20%-30% profit.
Unfortunately, insurance companies imply that your dentist is "overcharging" rather than say that they are "underpaying" or that their benefits are low. In general, the less expensive insurance policy will use a lower usual, customary, or reasonable (UCR) figure.
Fact 3 - DEDUCTIBLES & CO-PAYMENTS MUST BE CONSIDERED
When estimating dental benefits, deductibles and percentages must be considered. To illustrate, assume the fee for service is $150.00. Assuming that the insurance company allows $150.00 as its usual and customary (UCR) fee, we can figure out what benefits will be paid. First a deductible (paid by you), on average $50, is subtracted, leaving $100.00. The plan then pays 80% for this particular procedure. The insurance company will then pay 80% of $100.00, or $80.00. Out of a $150.00 fee they will pay an estimated $80.00 leaving a remaining portion of $70.00 (to be paid by the patient). Of course, if the UCR is less than $150.00 or your plan pays only at 50% then the insurance benefits will also be significantly less.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, please keep us informed of any insurance changes such as policy name, insurance company address, or a change of employment.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Other dental specialties you may have heard of include endodontic (focusing on the soft tissue inside your teeth), periodontic (focusing on the gums and other tissues surrounding your teeth) and prosthodontic (focusing on restoring and replacing damaged teeth).
Isn't it nice to know there's a dental expert here to help you through any type of treatment your teeth, jaw and gums might need?
Monday, November 17, 2008
Luckily, there was someone else wondering the same thing when she first got braces! Brenda Waterman, 13, decided she was going to find a way to have her cake and eat it too, so she created a variety of “braces-friendly” recipes that allow you to enjoy your favorite treats without interfering with your orthodontic care! Her cookbook “The Braces Cookbook: Recipes you (and your Orthodontist) will Love” gives patients a variety of delicious recipes, safe to eat with braces; plus additional tips and advice for packing lunches, what to eat at parties, and braces-friendly restaurant dishes! There’s even a section with tips for dealing with the soreness that can occur when your braces or appliance are adjusted. Enjoy the foods you love – even with braces!
Here is a delicious, sneak peek recipe from “The Braces Cookbook:”
Forget the recipe that came with your waffle iron – this recipe will redefine fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The secret to delicious waffles is letting the batter "sit" for five minutes before pouring into the waffle iron. Top cooked waffles with syrup, jam, fresh fruit or even whip cream. Makes about 5 servings!
Preheat your waffle iron according to the directions. You may want to lightly spray it with vegetable oil before heating.
• 3 cups flour
• 2 Tbl + 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 Tbl sugar
• 4 cups milk
• 4 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
In a large bowl, whisk (or use electric mixer on low) together all ingredients. Let batter sit for about five minutes to activate the baking powder.
When waffle iron is ready, pour about 1/3 cup of batter onto each of the four squares (experiment with your iron – you don't want the batter overflowing). Gently close the cover and set your timer as the manufacturer suggests. Do not lift the cover while they bake. When done, carefully lift one edge with a flat spatula and pull the waffle away from the iron. Keep waffles warm on a plate under a clean dishtowel while the others bake.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Straight teeth are less prone to decay, because they collect less plaque – the sticky colorless substance that forms on our teeth and leads to tooth decay; and they are easier to keep clean!
If you’re wondering whether your child's teeth might cause problems because they are out of alignment, give us a call at 562-377-1375 to set up a consultation. Dr. Cortez can help you decide whether or not your child will benefit from orthodontic treatment.
Monday, November 3, 2008
When we have patients with clear developmental problems at an early age, it’s best to start work when they are young, before the problems get bigger and more difficult to treat. Examples include an upper or lower jaw that is not growing correctly, or a mouth growing in a way that doesn’t leave enough room for all the permanent teeth to come in.
In these cases we will start early and do one round of treatment – phase one – while the patient still has “baby teeth.” Phase one usually does not involve braces, but can include a different type of appliance that helps the jaw grow into place properly, such as a retainer. We’ll follow up with phase two usually a few years later, when permanent the patient’s permanent teeth have come in. Phase two often does involve braces and sometimes headgear.
In order to catch early problems, we recommend that children have an orthodontic check-up no later than age seven (and so does the American Association of Orthodontics). However, if your dentist or pediatrician sees any sign that early treatment might be necessary, he or she may recommend your child visit an orthodontist even sooner. For more information about two-phase orthodontics, or to schedule a consultation with us please call 562-377-1375 and visit our web site.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection in the mouth that affects the gums and jaw. Gum disease results in a loss of teeth and bone, and has been connected to certain cases of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease and osteoporosis.
Results of the study show that adults who consume at least 55 grams of lactic acid a day are less at risk for gum disease. Eating dairy is not just healthy for building strong bones, but is essential for maintaining a strong, healthy mouth. Next time you reach for a quick snack, choose some cheese, or a glass of milk, and remember with each bite, and every sip you are preserving your teeth for a lifetime of smiles and good oral health!
For more information about keeping your teeth healthy, call us at (562) 377-1375 or visit www.pediatricdentalspecialists.net.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Q: What should I do if my child's baby tooth is knocked out?
A: Contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
Q: What should I do if my child's permanent tooth is knocked out?
A: Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub it or clean it with soap -- use just water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. If you can't put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk, saliva, or water. Get to the pediatric dental office immediately. (Call the emergency number if it's after hours.) The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
Q: What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?
A: Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dentist.
Q: What about a severe blow to the head or jaw fracture?
A: Go immediately to the emergency room of your local hospital. A blow to the head can be life threatening.
Q: What if my child has a toothache?
A: Call your pediatric dentist and visit the office promptly. To comfort your child, rinse the mouth with water. Apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.
Q: Can dental injuries be prevented?
A: Absolutely! First, reduce oral injury in sports by wearing mouth guards. Second, always use a car seat for young children. Require seat belts for everyone else in the car. Third, child-proof your home to prevent falls, electrical injuries, and choking on small objects. Fourth, protect your child from unnecessary toothaches with regular dental visits and preventive care.
Monday, September 29, 2008
You can feel it when you have a cavity. But unfortunately, gum disease can exist in your mouth without you realizing it. In fact, you can have the beginning stages of gum disease without noticing any pain or discomfort. Because of this, it’s very important to watch for the warning signs of the disease:
- Gums that appear red or swollen
- Gums that feel tender
- Gums that bleed easily (during brushing or flossing)
- Gums that recede or pull away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position
- Any change in the way partial dentures fit
If you or someone in your family is showing these signs, make an appointment right away by calling (562) 377-1375. We can diagnose the problem, find out how far the disease has advanced, and start treatment.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Every time you chow down on that chocolate bar the bacteria in your mouth have a party feasting on the sugar. The sugar quickly turns into acid; that’s right, ACID!!! The acid sits on your teeth and eats away at the tooth’s natural enamel (the stuff that protects your tooth from decay). When this enamel is eaten away by the acid on your tooth, you get a cavity! Brushing your teeth after eating a sugary treat can help prevent cavities; but before you indulge remind yourself: “can’t brush? Hold the sugar!”
When choosing a snack, consider these nutritional options that will not only satisfy your hunger and that “sweet tooth”, but won’t cause acid build up resulting in cavities:
--Fresh Fruits (berries, oranges, melon, pears, etc)
--Raw Vegetables (broccoli, celery, carrots, etc)
--Pretzels (low salt)
--Milk (low or non-fat)
--Cheese (low or non-fat)
--Nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc)
Monday, September 15, 2008
There are so many ways you protect your teeth throughout your orthodontic treatment. You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly and protect your mouth and appliances from being damaged. But did you know there is another, often forgotten about, way to keep your teeth clean and healthy during your treatment? Fluoride – a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay – can help keep your teeth strong! Fluoride comes in two varieties, topical and systemic. Topical fluoride is applied directly to the tooth. Topical fluoride includes toothpastes and mouth rinses. Systemic fluorides are swallowed in the form of a dietary supplement. Dentists and orthodontists use in-office fluoride treatments to help protect the oral health of adults and children undergoing dental/orthodontic procedures.
Fluoride used in the dentist/orthodontists office is often times a stronger concentration than in toothpaste or mouthwash, but is available at some drug stores or a pharmacy (ask your doctor how to purchase professional strength fluoride). A fluoride treatment typically takes just a few minutes. After the treatment patients may be asked not to rinse, eat or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe a fluoride product such as mouthwashes, gels or antibacterial rinses for at-home treatment.
When choosing your own fluoride product be sure to check for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined and have met the criteria of the ADA for safety and effectiveness. Take care of your teeth, and smile bright!
Monday, September 8, 2008
Bad breath can be a real downer, especially when you are out on a date with that girl or boy you’ve had a crush on all semester! However, bad breath can be prevented!
Bad breath, or as your doctor may call it “halitosis,” is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grows in your mouth. This bacteria gathers on bits of food in your mouth and between your teeth and release sulfur compounds making your breath smell. Some foods, like garlic and onions, may contribute more to bad breath because of oils the food the food releases, and smoking is also a major cause of bad breath.
There are several myths around bad breath. Here are some common myths and the truth behind it all:
Myth #1: Mouthwash will make my breath smell better
Mouthwash will make your breath smell better, but it is only a temporary fix. If you use mouthwash, just know that you will still need to brush and floss when you get the chance as mouthwash alone will not kill all of the bacteria producing germs in your mouth. When choosing a mouthwash, pick an antiseptic with plaque-reducing compounds. Also make sure any dental products you choose comes with the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of approval!
Myth #2: I brush my teeth; I will never have bad breath
Brushing your teeth will save you from having breath, but the truth is most people only brush their teeth for about 30-45 seconds! You need to brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, twice a day to give your teeth a thorough cleansing. It’s also important to brush your tongue, which is where a majority of odor causing bacteria like to hang out. Lastly, flossing to remove food and plaque between the teeth will also help reduce your chances of having bad breath!
Myth #3: If I don’t smell it, then my breath is fresh
This is a false assumption in every sense of the word! The truth is that the breath you breathe out is not the same breath coming out when you talk to someone. When you breathe you are not using your throat as you do when you are talking; and when you talk more breath moves over the back of your mouth where bacteria is causing bad breath.
#1 TRUTH: Brush your teeth twice a day (for at least 2 minutes), floss at least once and visit your dentist every six months…this way your breath will always be fresh! Not letting your nerves get the best of you on your date? That’s up to you!!!
Monday, September 1, 2008
Gather the items you will need for this experiment:
* 1 hard-boiled egg with the shell on
* 12 ounces of Coke, Pepsi or other dark-colored cola
* 1 container large enough to hold the cola and egg
* 1 plastic bowl
* 1 toothbrush
* 1 drop of fluoride toothpaste
* Clean-up supplies
Explain to your child that plaque is a sticky layer of germs that collects on her teeth. If she doesn’t brush, plaque can cause serious problems for her teeth, for example holes in the teeth (cavities) or swollen gums (gingivitis). Tell her that you are going to do an experiment to see how plaque coats her teeth, and why brushing twice a day is important for healthy teeth and gums.
Conduct the experiment:
1. Make the comparison between the white color of the egg and the while color of your child's teeth.
2. Place the egg into the container and pour the cola over it, so that it completely covers the egg.
3. Let the egg sit in the cola for 24 hours.
4. Remove the egg from the cola. The egg will be stained and yellowish.
5. Explain to your child that the colored layer that has appeared on top of the eggshell is just like the layer of plaque that occurs on her teeth.
6. Place the egg in the plastic bowl and give your child the toothbrush with the drop of toothpaste on it.
7. Let her brush the "plaque" off of the egg. The yellowish film will disappear, exposing the white eggshell. Explain that the same thing happens when she brushes her teeth.
Monday, August 25, 2008
One word nobody wants to hear when they visit the dentist is Cavity! That’s right, the dreaded cavity; but what exactly is a cavity and how do they happen? A cavity is a hole that develops in a tooth when the tooth begins to decay. It’s important to get a cavity filled as soon as it’s detected so that it does not grow bigger.
So, what causes a cavity? A cavity is caused by plaque, a sticky substance that forms on the tooth as a result of germ and bacteria build-up. Plaque is acidic and as it clings to your teeth the acids eat away the outside of the tooth (also called the enamel) and a hole is formed.
Yes, cavities can be repaired by your dentist, but here are a few simple steps you can take to prevent cavities:
--Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily
--Gently brush your gums to keep them healthy (when choosing a toothbrush it is recommended to use soft bristles)
--Floss your teeth at least once a day to remove plaque and food that may be caught between the teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach
--Limit the amount of soda and sugary treats you eat/drink
--Be sure to visit your dentist every six months for a teeth cleaning and check-up
Monday, August 18, 2008
--Check for problems that might not be seen or felt
--Detect cavities and early signs of decay
--Treat oral health problems early
--Show your child how to properly brush and floss their teeth
During an oral exam the doctor will check the health of your child’s mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks and tongue. Checkups will also include a thorough teeth cleaning and polishing. If your child has not been to the dentist in the last six months, it’s time for you to schedule an appointment!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Grind, grind, grind, grind.... grind...
If you live with a teeth grinder, especially a night grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound.
Other symptoms of teeth grinding (technically called “bruxism”) include:
--Sensitivity in the teeth
--Tightness or pain in the jaw
--Dull headaches, earaches or facial pain
--Chipped, worn down or loose teeth
Teeth grinding is typically brought on by stress; however, children will also often grind their teeth unknowingly in their sleep. Here are some ways you can try to stop the grinding:
--Find out if there might be something bothering him/her; stress may be a factor
--Take your child to see a dentist. Your dentist may prescribe a nighttime mouth guard to prevent teeth grinding in their sleep
--Tell your child not to chew on hard object, such as pens and pencils
--At night before bed place a warm cloth on your child’s cheek to relax muscles before sleep
--Keep your child hydrated with water; dehydration can lead to teeth grinding
If grinding goes untreated it can lead to chipped teeth, worn enamel, chronic pain or even TMJ, a painful jaw disorder. So, if your child is grinding his/her teeth, contact your dentist for more information and “grinding” solutions.
Monday, August 4, 2008
People have been brushing their teeth for thousands of years! In fact, the first “toothbrush” was created around 3000BC! Ancient civilizations used a thin twig with a frayed edge to rub against their teeth for cleaning.
The first toothbrush with bristles – similar to today’s toothbrushes – was invented in 1498 in China. Brushes were made out of bone or bamboo with bristles made from the hairs on the back of a hog’s neck.
It wasn’t until 1938 that the first nylon bristle toothbrush was introduced and people quickly became aware of practicing good oral hygiene.
Here are some other interesting facts about your toothbrush (and toothpaste):
• Most people are said to use blue toothbrushes over any other color
• The first toothpaste was used in 500 BC in China and India
• On average, children smile about 400 times per day
• Your toothbrush should be replaced every two months
• The first known toothpaste was used in 1780, Crest was introduced in the US in 1955 and Colgate in 1873
Monday, July 28, 2008
One question we hear all the time is “When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?”
You should begin regular cleanings even before your baby has teeth. After each breast feeding – or bottle-feeding – use a clean, damp washcloth to gently rub your baby’s gum tissue. You can wrap the material around one finger to make it easier to remove any food bits from your baby’s mouth.
When your baby’s first tooth comes in switch to a baby toothbrush. Look for special baby toothbrushes in your drugstore – they have just a few bristles and are very soft. There are even brushes shaped like finger puppets that fit over the tip of your pointer finger! All you need at this point is water – no toothpaste yet.
After a few more teeth appear, you can start using toothpaste, but you only need a tiny bit, and make sure it doesn’t contain fluoride for the first three years. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing. That way, he or she will already have the good habit of spitting when you switch to fluoride toothpaste, which should never be swallowed.
If you have any questions about caring for your baby’s teeth, please contact our office at (562) 377-1375.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Tooth Fairy “Tooth” Box
(remember to ask your parents for help when using hot glue and scissors)
What you will need:
--I large empty match box
--Enough felt to wrap the box and inside sliding tray
--Glue (tacky glue or a hot glue gun)
--White, pink and blue (or your favorite color) felt for decorating the matchbox
Step 1: Pull the inner tray out of the box and line the inside with glue and felt as shown. Wrap the outside of the box with felt and glue it in place.
Step 2: Glue ribbon to the outside of the box in a hanging loop shape. Fold another piece of ribbon in half and glue it to the bottom of the inner tray to create a handle for sliding it in and out.
Step 3: Draw a tooth shape on paper, cut it out, and trace it onto the white felt twice. Cut out the teeth and face details.
Step 4: Decorate the teeth with the eyes and cheeks and draw on a mouth. Glue one tooth to the outside of the box.
Step 5: Create a tooth pocket by applying glue to the sides and bottom of the remaining tooth as shown, leaving an opening at the top. Glue the pocket to the inside tray. Once the glue dries, the box is Tooth Fairy-ready. Have your child put the tooth inside the inner pocket and hang it outside their door before your child goes to bed!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
In most cases, no. Sucking is a natural reflex for an infant, and can provide security and contentment as well as relaxation for your little one. It’s a habit that most children grow out of between the ages of 2 and 4.
However, if your child keeps sucking after he’s gotten his permanent teeth, it’s time to take a closer look. If your child sucks his thumb aggressively, putting pressure on the inside of his mouth or his teeth, it could cause problems with tooth alignment and proper mouth growth. If you’re worried, give us a call and we will help assess the situation, and provide tips for how to help your child break the habit. Call us Pediatric Dental Specialists at (562) 377-1375.
Monday, July 7, 2008
We know the rumors going around – mostly among young people – that once you swallow a piece of chewing gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your stomach for at least seven years! We really hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter the stomach and move through the digestive system just like any other piece of food and leave the body long before seven years! So, if you ever have accidentally swallowed a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!
This being said, gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are a gum-chewer, make sure you chew sugarless gum, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but with less cavity causing ingredients. You see, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!
Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
To motivate your child to brush and floss their teeth, we have instituted a monthly drawing. On your child's well check visits we will evaluate him/her for cavities. If your child has no cavities and good oral hygiene, he/she will be entered into a drawing. The drawing takes place at the end of each month. If your child's name is selected you will be contacted. We ask that you bring him/her in to collect their prize and take a picture so we may display it in our office.