Monday, December 28, 2009

A great article about changes in dentistry, from Pediatric Dental Specialists

The team at Pediatric Dental Specialists know the world around us is always changing and evolving, whether it’s the latest gadget you ordered online or the high-tech braces on your teeth! Recently, we read an article in the New York Times about dental implants, and how they are becoming increasingly favored over bridges to replace lost teeth. One thing to remember about dental implants is that they need to be cared for just like your regular teeth; daily brushing and flossing are a must!

Drs. Cortez, Sanchez and Planells are at the forefront of changes in dentistry. Call us today to learn more about more changes in this exciting and ever-evolving field!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays from Pediatric Dental Specialists

The holiday season is upon us, and as the team at Pediatric Dental Specialists reflects on the year that was, we’d like to ask you, our wonderful patients: What’s your favorite part about the holidays? Being with your loved ones? A clean slate for the new year? Opening presents by the fireplace? All the delicious food? Also, what gift are you most looking forward to getting this year?

We’d love if you shared with us all the things you love about the holidays. Stay warm, and don’t forget to stay away from those sweets!

--From Drs. Cortez, Sanchez and Planells.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pediatric Dental Specialists in the Community

The doctors of Pediatric Dental Specialists—Drs. Cortez, Planells and Sanchez—are actively involved in many community-service activities, charitable organizations and child advocacy endeavors because they believe strongly in giving back. Living out of the philosophy, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

The doctors go to great lengths to ensure that their specialty is being used to the fullest to educate, advocate and care for all children in our community. They also participate in dental missions around the world, serving children in need. During their entire careers they have and continue to donate many clinical hours each year volunteering at dental clinics, mobile dental clinics, special events and dental missions.

Some of the education aspects of their service include being advisers to the Children’s Dental Health Clinic, Head Start Program and the Stramski Center. Lecturing at USC and UCLA schools of dentistry and many dental organizations are part of their dedication to mentoring and caring for the profession.

The doctors are very involved in their professional organizations, spending many hours as leaders working to inform our lawmakers of the condition of oral health care in our children and to promote change.

Not only are our doctors involved but they encourage and inspire their staff to reach out wherever possible to do the same.

To learn more about Pediatric Dental Specialists in the greater Los Angeles community, please give us a call. Happy Monday!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Patient reviews for Pediatric Dental Specialists

Pediatric Dental Specialists, serving Long Beach and surrounding areas, has been receiving some great patient testimonials lately! Check out what our current patients are saying about Dr. Cortez and team! Have a great week!

"Exceptional service and commitment to making the child's experience positive." ~ Sheila T.

"He is very concerned about his patients. Works well to help both the child and parent. He has performed excellent work for both of my sons." ~ Richard G.

"I love Dr. Cortez and how he provides information that I am able to understands. I have referred so many people over to Dr. Cortez, I know that they would love his work. He takes pride in working with children. Also he makes you feel welcome." ~ Ryan K.

"He seems to be professional and have a generous heart toward children and understands parent concerns. His education and strive to help others is inspiring to anyone. He seems to be a great role model for children. Many may even become dentists....." ~ John B.

"Dr. Cortez and his staff have always been great! I have been coming here since I was a little tyke and it is always great. I am always very happy to be there. I especially like their most recent edition of "Sesame"! In two words : THEY ROCK !!!!!" ~ Andrew T.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pediatric Dental Specialists want to know: How was your Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving has once again come and gone, but the calories remain. The team at Pediatric Dental Specialists want to know: What did you do? Where did you go? Anything exciting? Also, what are you up to in December? We’d love an update!

If you have any stories or pictures to share with us, we'd encourage you to send them along or call our offices and ask how.
--Dr. Cortez and team

Monday, November 23, 2009

A great braces-friendly fall recipe! From Pediatric Dental Specialists

Fall is here, and sometimes we here at Pediatric Dental Specialists just feel like a hot delicious meal is in order. Our friends at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) made an appetizing (and braces-friendly!) fall dish that is sure to delight. Remember, a healthy diet provides essential nutrients and helps you achieve the best possible result from your orthodontic treatment.

Pasta Pomodorini
•¾ pound spaghetti or spaghetti
•¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
•¼ cup sliced garlic
•½ teaspoon finely minced Calabrian chilies, or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
•1 pint small cherry tomatoes, stems removed, crushed between your thumb and forefinger
•Sea salt, preferably gray salt
•½ cup fresh basil leaves, each torn into 2 or 3 pieces
•Wedge of Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta. While the pasta cooks, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the garlic and cook until the slivers are golden brown and crisp, then add the chilies and cook for about 30 seconds. Raise the heat to high and add the tomatoes. Simmer briskly to soften the tomatoes and thicken the juices, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. When the pasta is al dente, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the warm pot off the heat. Add the sauce and the basil and mix well. Add some of the reserved cooking water if the pasta seems dry. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and grate Parmesan over the top to taste. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Enjoy this great fall dish and have a great week!
--From the team at Pediatric Dental Specialists

Monday, November 16, 2009

Getting you through flu season, from Pediatric Dental Specialists

Traditionally cold and flu season starts in Fall, but this year it seems to have started much earlier and with the number of patients canceling appointments because of flu and H1N1 symptoms Pediatric Dental Specialists are taking additional precautions to help prevent the spread of germs.

To promote a healthy and clean environment, we give a great deal of attention to sanitation and sterilization in our office at all times as well as following all requirements for sterilizing instruments and work surfaces.

For the protection of other patients and our staff, we always ask that patients reschedule their appointments if they have any type of cold or illness that can infect others.

Maintaining and protecting oral hygiene equipment is also important this flu season. To protect your toothbrush from bacteria follow these steps:

• Wash your hands before and after brushing
• Allow the brush to air dry after each use, harmful bacteria dies after being exposed to oxygen
• Store the toothbrush in an upright position to allow water to drain and dry faster
• Replace toothbrush after every cold or flu or every 3-4 months when bristles appear worn

Hope this helps and give us a call if you have any questions! Stay healthy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pediatric Dental Specialists want to know: What are you up to in November?

October has come and gone, and—believe it or not—we’re almost in full holiday mode! But before we forget about the spooky month that just wrapped up, we’d like to know how you celebrated Halloween! What did you wear? How much candy did you get? Did you have fun?

If you have any photos or videos that you would like to share with us, please send them our way! Our doctors and staff hope you all had a happy and safe Halloween! Also, what are you up to this month? Anything exciting happening in your life? If so, we’d love to hear all about it.

--The team at Pediatric Dental Specialists

Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting Married This Fall? Smile Bright with Pediatric Dental Specialists!

It’s Fall. Leaves are turning shades of orange and red, the wind is picking up and getting cooler, and pumpkin patches are full of bright orange pumpkins. Families gather together, kids head out trick-or-treating, and as always, wedding bells are ringing. That's right, Fall is one of the best times of year to tie the knot! If you are gearing up for a wedding this Fall, consider matching that white dress to a perfectly white smile!

At Pediatric Dental Specialists we offer in-office tooth whitening for the bride, the groom, or the entire wedding party! You get the girls together to get their nails done, and now you can get them together to get their teeth done!

In-office whitening is the quickest, most effective way to achieve whiter teeth. Because we are dental professionals, we have the expertise to use higher percentages of whitening agents than the at-home systems allow. So you can get a brighter white, usually in just one visit!

Give us a call and let us add some extra sparkle to your “I do”!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BOO! A few Ghoulish Halloween Recipes!

October is National Orthodontic Health Month. In our office we are celebrating Halloween by sponsoring a Candy Buy-Back Program for existing patients whereby patients can bring in their Halloween candy on November 2, 2009 and receive $1.00 for each pound of candy they turn in.

In addition we are holding a Coloring Contest, whereby patients of the practice are encouraged to submit a colored National Orthodontic Health Month Coloring Sheet. The winner will be selected on November 2, 2009 and receive a $20 gift certificate.

Patients with braces are encouraged to avoid treats that "Can Play Tricks on Your Braces." These include foods that are hard, sticky or chewy- like:

Hard Nuts
Hard Pretzels

Here are some Braces-Friendly Halloween Recipes provided by the American Association of Orthodontics. Enjoy Halloween fun with these howling-good treats that won’t trick your braces.

Scary Jigglers
2 1/2 cups boiling water
(Do not add cold water)
2 pkg. gelatin (any flavor, but we recommend Orange,
Grape or Lime for Halloween)
Halloween-shaped cookie cutters*

Stir boiling water into gelatin in a large bowl 3 minutes until
completely dissolved. Pour into 13x9-inch pan. Refrigerate
at least 3 hours or until firm (gelatin does not stick to finger
when touched).
Dip bottom of pan in warm water for about 15 seconds. Cut
into 24 decorative shapes using 2-inch cookie cutters, making
sure to cut all of the way through the gelatin to the bottom of
the pan. Remove from pan. Store in tightly covered container in
* If serving to small children, consider using smaller cookie cutters to
make bites more manageable.

Almond Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs
Cut this easy-to-assemble dough into ghost shapes for
Halloween. Decorate with Super Easy Ornamental Frosting.
1 cup butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the egg,
vanilla extract and almond extract flavorings.
Combine the dry ingredients in separate bowl. Next, add the
dry ingredients (by 1/2 cup measurements) to the butter/sugar
mixture. Mix with a mixer on medium speed. Chill the dough
for 2 - 3 hours or overnight, or “quick chill” in the freezer until
very firm, for about 30 - 45 minutes.
To Bake:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate the dough into fourths and
roll each section until it is about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thickness, and
using a 2 1/2 inch ghost-shaped cookie cutter, cut into desired
shape. Bake 7 - 9 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown.

Super Easy Ornamental Frosting
16 oz. powdered sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1/3 cup of warm water

Combine all the ingredients and mix at medium speed until
smooth. Spread the frosting on each cutout. For spreading
consistency, thin icing by adding tablespoons of warm water.
Please note: it doesn’t take more than one or two tablespoons
to thin the icing.

Use a tube of chocolate cake decorator frosting, or small dabs of
chocolate frosting on a knifepoint, to make ghost eyes.

Halloween Parfait
w 3 boxes instant vanilla pudding
(enough to make 12 one-half cup servings)
1 teaspoon red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon yellow food coloring
One 9-ounce package plain chocolate wafers
6 cups milk
Chocolate syrup to taste
One 8-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

Combine pudding mix and milk in large bowl as directed on
the package. Refrigerate until firm. Crush chocolate wafers into
crumbs, using a food processor, or put the wafers into a zip-lock
bag and crush with a rolling pin.
Combine red and yellow food coloring in a small bowl. Stir into
pudding thoroughly, until pudding is orange. Alternate layers of
pudding with layers of chocolate crumbs in a parfait cup or glass
for a total of three layers of pudding. Top each layer of crumbs
with chocolate syrup to taste before adding the next pudding
layer. Top each parfait with mandarin oranges and additional
chocolate wafer crumbs. Makes eight 8-ounce servings.

Have a happy and safe Halloween! From Pediatric Dental Specialists

Monday, October 26, 2009

Write a Review of Pediatric Dental Specialists!

Whether you have visited Pediatric Dental Specialists for weeks, months or years, we'd love to hear your feedback about Dr. Cortez, Dr. Sanchez or Dr. Planells. Or perhaps the team! Now with the Internet, it’s even easier to write your thoughts and share them with the world. We'd want to encourage you to write a review of us. It only takes a moment!

You may write your review here.

Thank you and have a great week!

--Pediatric Dental Specialists

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sour Candy and Halloween

Halloween is almost upon us, and Dr. Cortez understands sour candy is a part of any Halloween celebration. But while sour candy can be delicious, they are arguably as unhealthy for your teeth as sweet candy. The reason is, sour candies tend to be very acidic, and are capable of burning your cheeks and gums while wearing down the enamel on your teeth.

In 2008, the Minnesota Dental Association released a study which suggested the amount of acid in sour candies may eat away at tooth enamel and cause cavities. We at Pediatric Dental Specialists would like to remind you that if you should experience a craving for sour candies on Halloween or in the future, please:

1. Remember to rinse your mouth with water immediately after consuming candy, drink milk, or eat a couple pieces of cheese.

2. Do not brush immediately after consuming sour candy. The candy's acidic nature tends to soften tooth enamel. Brushing your teeth can mean abrading the enamel.

3. Limit the amount of sour candies that you consume on a daily basis. If you do indulge, remember not to suck or chew on sour candies for long periods of time.

If tooth erosion has already begun, ask us about ways to reduce sensitivity and continue to protect your teeth.

Hope this helps! Dr. Cortez and his staff wish you a happy and safe Halloween!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Preventing Gum Disease and Protecting your Teeth!

It is estimated that around 80 percent of American adults are currently diagnosed with some form of gum disease. Also known as, periodontal disease or periodontitis, gum disease starts with gum inflammation and can end with major damage to the bone and tissue holding the teeth in place, resulting in tooth loss and irreversible damage to the gums. Many doctors and researchers have also found gum disease to be the cause of several other health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and complications for women during pregnancy. Gum disease is a serious dental health condition, and by understanding how gum disease is caused, what symptoms to look for, and how you can prevent it, you will be able to keep your smile healthy for many years to come.

What causes gum disease?

Your mouth is full of bacteria, and when the bacteria are left in your mouth, it can cause a sticky, colorless film over your tooth surface called plaque. Brushing your teeth regularly and flossing can help to remove much of the plaque build-up on your teeth; however, if you do not brush and floss regularly, the plaque on your teeth can harden and turn into tartar. Tartar cannot be removed by a toothbrush, only your dentist has the special tools needed to remove tartar from your tooth’s surface.

Eventually, if left untreated, the tartar and plaque on your teeth will cause gingivitis. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and is usually curable if caught early enough. Signs of gingivitis include:

• Red, swollen gums
• Gums that bleed when you brush and floss
• Gums that pull away from your teeth
• Pockets between your teeth and gums where food gets caught
• Persistent bad breath

If you have gingivitis, and it is left untreated, you may end up with gum disease. Gum disease causes the gums to pull completely away from the teeth and form infected pockets. The bacteria in your mouth and on your teeth will start to break down the tissue and bone that supports your teeth and holds them in place. Gum disease that is left untreated will lead to the extraction or loss of teeth. Most people do not show signs of gingivitis and gum disease until they are in their 30s, 40s, or older. Certain risk factors can increase your chance of getting gum disease, including:

• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Stress
• Certain prescription medications
• Illness
• Genetics

How can I prevent gum disease?

You can help your chances of never getting gingivitis or gum disease simply by taking care of your teeth and gums on a regular basis. Here are some of the ways you can help keep your smile healthy:

• Brush your teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste approved by the ADA.
• Floss at least once every day to remove food stuck between your teeth and along the gum line.
• Visit your dentist for routine, general checkups and teeth cleaning every six months.
• Eat a well balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables.
• Stay away from using tobacco products of any kind.

Gingivitis and gum disease are both preventable and treatable. If you would like a list of recommended dental health care products, or have any questions about gingivitis, gum disease, and how to keep your teeth and gums healthy, please ask us at your next dental checkup. Our practice is happy to answer any questions you may have, and provide you with accurate information to help you maintain the health of your smile in between office visits. If you think you may have any form of gingivitis or gum disease, please contact our practice at
(562) 377-1375 to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

-Pediatric Dental Specialists

Thursday, October 8, 2009

National Dental Hygiene Month

Did you know that October is National Dental Hygiene Month? Fall is here, and Halloween is coming soon, but now it is more important than ever to maintain good oral hygiene.

All those sweet, sour and sticky candies may taste great, but these treats can damage your teeth and braces too! Did you know sour candies can be acidic to your teeth, and actually wear down the enamel that protects them? This can cause tooth decay and cavities! After eating these candies, be sure to wash your mouth out with water, drink milk or eat a few slices of cheese. These will help neutralize the acid in your mouth (wait at least one hour before brushing your teeth with toothpaste, as this can actually increase the effects of acid on your teeth)

Besides cavities and tooth decay, many people do not realize that good oral health and hygiene are important to your overall health too! Research is discovering the connection between periodontal disease and other major health concerns, such as heart disease! Therefore, it is important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine: see Pediatric Dental Specialists every six months, brush and floss daily and use an antibacterial mouthwash.

Make a resolution to improve your oral health for October, the National Dental Hygiene Month!

--Pediatric Dental Specialists, Long Beach CA

Monday, September 28, 2009

Answering all your burning questions about mouthwash

While mouthwash is not an alternative to regular brushing and flossing, it can help keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. There are several different types of mouthwashes available, and all of them will help do different things for your smile. The most common types of mouthwashes are:

• Fluoride - fluoride is the most used type of mouthwash available, and is used to strengthen the enamel of the teeth while preventing cavities and tooth decay.

• Antiseptic - an antiseptic mouthwash is used to kill bacteria and germs in the mouth. Most commonly used before and after a dental surgery, antiseptic mouthwashes can also help to fight gum disease, and halitosis (chronic bad breath). Antiseptic mouthwashes can affect your sense of taste and may stain the teeth, so it is recommended that you consult your dentist before using this type of mouthwash.

• Combination - a combination mouthwash is designed to help prevent tooth decay, freshen the breath, and maintain the health of your smile.

• Prescription - for patients with gum disease, or any signs of gum disease, you may need a prescription mouthwash. Prescription mouthwashes, like Peridex of PerioGard, are used to treat gingivitis, and other forms of decay.

There are also many different brands of mouthwash. Some common brands include:

• Scope
• Listerine
• Act
• Crest
• Tom’s of Maine (all-natural)
• Plax (anti-plaque rinse)
• Breath Rx
• Orajel
• Targon (special mouthwash made for smokers)
• Rembrandt (whitening mouthwash)

If you are curious about which kind of mouthwash would work best for you, be sure to ask Dr. Cortez at your next dental appointment. If you have a favorite mouthwash, let us know by posting a comment for others to read!

Monday, September 21, 2009

More About Orthodontics From Pediatric Dental Specialists

There are so many questions about orthodontics that we never ask, so Drs. Cortez, Sanchez and Planells took some time to explain the most common concerns.

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age seven or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist or the child's physician.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander, Herbst, Facemask, headgear, or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.

Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

Absolutely!! Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful and healthy smile. Between 30-40% of our patients are adults.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the arch wire that connects them are the main components. When the arch wire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping your treatment time on schedule.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the arch wires, you may feel some soreness of your teeth for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers or wax can be provided to prevent discomfort.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleaning and dental checkups, or more frequently as recommended.

Got more questions? Give us a call at (562) 377-1375. We'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cosmetic Options for a beautiful smile!

There are many treatment options available to you with cosmetic dentistry that allows you and your doctor to create that beautiful smile you have not only dreamed of, but the smile that you deserve.

Some of your basic cosmetic options include natural tooth colored fillings, porcelain, metal, or composite crowns that strengthen and improve the shape of your teeth, and bonding to repair slight chips, discolorations, or crooked teeth.

If you are missing any teeth, it is very important to replace them. Dental implants are made of steel and porcelain and look just like your natural tooth. You may also want to consider a bridge. Bridges are made up of two crowns and a natural looking false tooth that are supported on both sides by your natural teeth.

Another option is Veneers; custom designed “shells” that cover your natural tooth to enhance your teeth for a more aesthetic smile.

If you’re interested in learning more about cosmetic dentistry, and all of the wonderful options available to you, please call our practice at (562) 377-1375
to schedule an appointment and consultation.

--Dr. Cortez

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oral Piercing: Is It Worth It?

Piercing, like tattooing, is one of today’s popular forms of “body art” and self-expression. If you’re thinking about getting a piercing – or if you already have one or more – there are some health risks you should know about.
Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Just touching your mouth jewelry (tongue barbells and lip and cheek labrettes) can lead to infection. Many people who have piercings tend to regularly touch them – which is a perfect opportunity for bacteria from hands to enter piercing sites. Also, food particles that collect around piercing sites can lead to infection.

Pain and swelling are other possible side effects of piercing. Your tongue – the most popular piercing site in the mouth – could swell large enough to close off your airway! Piercing also can cause uncontrollable bleeding or nerve damage. Damage to the tongue’s blood vessels can cause serious blood loss.

The hoop, ring, stud, and barbell-shaped jewelry can hinder your ability to talk and eat. Some people also develop a habit of biting or playing with their piercings – which can lead to cracked, scratched teeth; gum damage and recession; and sensitive teeth. There may also be a need for restorations, such as crowns or fillings, and additional dental treatment due to piercings.

Consider the potential pitfalls of piercing carefully before getting one. Keep in mind that it will be an added responsibility to your life, and will need regular upkeep. Make sure that you’re committed to the task of taking care of it for the full healing period and beyond.

If you have an oral piercing, pay special attention to it. Clean the piercing with antiseptic mouthwash after eating, and brush the jewelry when you brush your teeth. Of course, let us know if you have any questions.

--Pediatric Dental Specialists

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Have you been in for a checkup recently?

Even if you brush and floss daily, it is still important to see us at Pediatric Dental Specialists every 6 months. Why?

-We can detect and treat tooth and gum problems that you may have never felt or noticed.

-Even thorough daily oral care may not be enough to prevent cavities and oral decay.

-Frequent visits can allow us to treat a problem early to prevent future complications.

If you are overdue for an appointment with us, call (562) 377-1375 today!

--Pediatric Dental Specialists

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Toothbrush Trivia, From Pediatric Dental Specialists

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

--Pediatric Dental Specialists

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pediatric Dental Specialists Around the Web

If you've ever visited us at Pediatric Dental Specialists, you already know that we love connecting with our patients. We love the ability to communicate with all of you online too! Besides our web site and our blog, Pediatric Dental Specialists is on many other networks too!

* Share a video with us, or watch one of ours on YouTube

* Become a "fan" of Pediatric Dental Specialists on Facebook

See you around the web!

--Pediatric Dental Specialists

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Softly Brushing Your Way to Clean Teeth

Just as there are so many different types of toothbrushes to choose from, each brush also has a different type of bristle! There are generally three different types of bristles; hard, medium, and soft. We always recommend that our patients, especially children and seniors, use a soft bristled toothbrush.

Using a hard and medium bristled brush can actually harm your teeth and gums by stripping the enamel from the teeth and irritating the gums so that they become red and sore, and can even cause gum recession. If you do use a hard or medium bristled brush as a personal preference, we recommend using an electric toothbrush.

Soft bristles are much gentler on your teeth and gums, and while patients of all ages are recommended to use soft bristled brushes, they are particularly great for children, seniors, patients recovering from a dental procedure, and patients wearing braces.

Soft bristles, and even extra-soft bristles are every bit as effective when it comes to cleaning your teeth; in fact, if you currently use a hard or medium bristled brush, try a soft bristled brush next time you buy a toothbrush and we bet you won’t even notice a difference!

--Pediatric Dental Specialists

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Fun with Pediatric Dental Specialists!

Its summer here at Pediatric Dental Specialists, a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories. Whether you are headed to a barbeque, a camping trip, or just having fun in the sun, we want to hear about it! Leave a comment on our blog and tell us about your summer!

Happy Travels,

-From Pediatric Dental Specialists

Friday, July 31, 2009

Taking Care of Your Toothbrush, from Pediatric Dental Specialists

You know your toothbrush is a vital tool for the proper care of your teeth – but do you know the best way to take care of your toothbrush? Following are some guidelines for toothbrush care from Pediatric Dental Specialists:

One toothbrush should have one owner.

If you share your toothbrush, you could also be sharing bodily fluids and bacteria, increasing your risk of infection.

Toothbrushes need privacy, too.

For the same reason, when storing brushes, make sure they are placed in such a way that they can't touch each other.

Give your toothbrush some space.

Keep your brush in a clean, well-ventilated spot and make sure it has time to dry in between uses. Keeping your toothbrush in a closed, moist space regularly can encourage the growth of germs.

Showering is good for your toothbrush.

Before and after each use, rinse your toothbrush under running water to eliminate excess toothpaste and other residue. Rub your fingers along the bristles – but only after washing your hands; no use substituting one set of germs for another. When you're finished, shake out the brush to accelerate drying.

Let your toothbrush indulge in a nice bath.

You may be able to reduce the amount of bacteria on your brush by soaking it in anti-bacterial mouthwash after each use.

Don't get too attached to your toothbrush.

Swap your old toothbrush for a new one at least as often as every three to four months. Keep an eye out for frayed bristles and replace sooner if necessary. The more worn the bristles, the less effective brushing is. Of course, if you've been sick with the flu, a cold, or a mouth infection, say goodbye to your toothbrush and move on to a new, germ-free one immediately.

Beware of too-good-to-be-true toothbrush-cleaning products.

Some products profess to being designed to "sanitize" your toothbrush. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), there is no conclusive evidence that these products provide any particular benefit to your health. The ADA also encourages consumers to be wary of products claiming to "sterilize" your toothbrush, as there is currently no data to support such claims.

Don't trust Aunt Minnie's toothbrush-cleaning advice.

Although they certainly mean well, and they're clearly creative, your friends and relatives with home-cooked ideas about cleaning toothbrushes may not be the safest sources of information. Dishwashers, microwaves, and boiling water are no substitute for simply buying a new brush – and in fact could damage your brush, rendering it less effective.

Remember – what's good for the toothbrush is good for the teeth!

--Pediatric Dental Specialists

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Everybody Benefits from Braces! Pediatric Dental Specialists

Braces aren’t just for pre-adolescents and teenagers anymore! Anyone, at any age, can benefit from orthodontic care from us at Pediatric Dental Specialists; whether it is correcting a problem not treated in your younger years, or catching a problem early.

To ensure the best overall treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive an orthodontic consultation as early as age seven. If a problem is evident, taking action early can spare a lot of treatment and expense down the road.

If you never received orthodontic treatment when you were young, don’t worry! You’re never too old for a beautiful smile. Set up an appointment with us at Pediatric Dental Specialists for a consultation and find out how adult orthodontics will transform your smile, and your life!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bottled Water May Be Behind Tooth Troubles, Pediatric Dental Specialists

We at Pediatric Dental Specialists want you to know that as more families turn to bottled water and away from the tap, they may be missing out on one important ingredient that most brands of bottled water fail to include: fluoride!

As of 2005, bottled water is second only to soft drinks as the most popular drink in the United States, beating out milk, juice, and – more significantly – tap water. Between 2001 and 2006, the amount of bottled water sold in the U.S. rose an average of 10% per year. And many dental health specialists point to bottled water’s increased popularity as the culprit behind rising rates of cavities.

Because fluoride helps strengthen teeth, it is an important component of maintaining good oral health. The benefits of fluoride were noticed in the early part of the twentieth century, when researchers found communities with low levels of tooth decay. It turned out that these towns had measurable levels (around 1 part per million) of fluoride in their drinking water.

Beginning in the 1940s, communities have fluoridated their water supplies, and dentists have seen a significant decline in cavities ever since. The American Dental Association endorses both community water fluoridation and the use of fluoride-containing products as a safe means of preventing tooth decay. Between tap water and toothpaste, most of us get sufficient amounts of fluoride.

But if your family avoids fluoridated tap water in favor of ever-more-popular bottled water, you could be missing out on the levels of fluoride necessary to make a difference in your oral health.

If bottled water is your water of choice, check the label to make sure that your brand contains fluoride. As of a 2006 decision, the FDA allows bottled water containing .6 to 1.0 milligrams per liter of fluoride to carry a label stating that fluoridated water may reduce the risk of dental cavities or tooth decay. The ADA has backed this decision.

Of course, simply drinking fluoridated water is not a magic ticket to perfect teeth. To keep your choppers in tip-top shape, it’s important to brush and floss daily and avoid sugary sweets, in addition to maintaining your fluoride intake and visiting us at Pediatric Dental Specialists regularly.

-Drs. Sanchez, Cortez and Planells

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Patient Testimonials for the Pediatric Dental Specialists

Patients have been sending us some great testimonials about the Pediatric Dental Specialists. Take a look at what patients liked best about Dr. Cortez, Dr. Planells and Dr. Sanchez!

I love Dr. Cortez and how he provides information that I'm able to understands. I have refered so many people over to Dr. Cortez, I know that they would love his work. He takes pride in working with children. ~ Ryan K.

The office is able to work with children with special needs. The staff at Pediatric Dental Specialists takes the time to explain things when I have questions. I like the personalized book they gave my children when they were new patients. ~ Sean A.

The staff at Pediatric Dental Specialists is caring and professional. The environment is comfortable and relaxing. The dental professional takes time to explain. ~ Cynthia A.

My children are comfortable at the office and with their dentist, Dr. Sanchez. They have received excellent dental care and have not had any cavities. ~ Nicholas B.

I'm new and was very impressed by the atmosphere and the friendly staff and dentists at Pediatric Dental Specialists. But, the most important thing was that my daughter felt comfortable- and she did very much so! ~ Lori M.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cardiodontics: The Heart Mouth Connection from Pediatric Dental Specialists

If you have been told you have periodontal disease (also known as gum disease or periodontitis), you're not alone. An estimated 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of the disease! Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost.

Gum disease is a threat to your oral health. Research is also pointing to health effects of periodontal diseases that go well beyond your mouth. So we at Pediatric Dental Specialists want to let you know some interesting facts and ways to treat the disease.

What is Periodontal Disease?

"Perio" means around, and "dontal" refers to teeth. Periodontal disease is an infection of the structures around the teeth, including the gums and the bones that hold the teeth. The earliest stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis – an infection of the gums. In more severe forms of the disease, all of the tissues are involved, including the bone. Bacteria that live and reproduce on the teeth and gums cause periodontal disease.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Symptoms may include the following:
--redness or bleeding of gums while brushing teeth or using dental floss
--halitosis, or bad breath
--gum recession, resulting in apparent lengthening of teeth
--"pockets" between the teeth and gums indicating that the bone which holds the teeth in the mouth is dissolving
--loose teeth
Gum inflammation and bone destruction are largely painless. Hence, people may wrongly assume that painless bleeding after teeth cleaning is insignificant, although this may be a symptom of progressing periodontitis. If your hands bled when you washed them, you would be concerned. Yet, many people think it's normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss.

Periodontal Disease Affects Your Health

Periodontal disease is a putrid, festering infection of the mouth. Bacteria and inflammatory particles can enter the bloodstream through ulcerated and bleeding gums and travel to the heart and other organs. In recent years, gum disease has been linked to a number of health problems. Researchers are studying possible connections between gum disease and:
--Heart disease: Gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease. Gum disease also is believed to worsen existing heart disease.
--Stroke: Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke caused by blocked arteries
--Diabetes: People with diabetes and periodontal disease may be more likely to have trouble controlling their blood sugar than diabetics with healthy gums.
--Premature births: A woman who has gum diseases during pregnancy may be more likely deliver her baby too early and the infant may be more likely to be of low birth weight.

Combating Periodontal Disease

--See your dentist! See your dentist every six months for a checkup! Regular professional cleanings and checkups make you feel good, look good, and could be a lifesaver!
--Brush and floss daily. Take your time and do it right!
--Use an anti-bacterial mouthwash. Daily use of an anti-bacterial mouthwash helps to disinfect the teeth and gums, and reduces the number of bacteria.
--Straighten your teeth. Crowded teeth are nearly impossible to keep clean. Orthodontic treatment can greatly reduce inflammation and periodontal disease.

--Pediatric Dental Specialists

Monday, June 22, 2009

How To Stay Young And Healthy from Pediatric Dental Specialists

Whether you’re 5 or 50, your health depends on your awareness of what’s good for you. But in a world filled with fad diets, blaring advertisements, and unintelligible ingredient lists, we at Pediatric Dental Specialists know it can be difficult to determine exactly what is good for you – and what’s not.

For straightforward guidance on how to live a long, healthy life, we recommend Brush Your Teeth! And Other Simple Ways to Stay Young and Healthy by Dr. David Ostreicher. The book sums up good health in six fundamental principles: hygiene, diet, attitude, exercise, sleep and personal safety.

Drawing on nearly three decades of experience as an orthodontist and professor of health and nutrition, Dr. Ostreicher definitively answers age-old debates, like the best way to prevent colds and flu (your mom was right: wash your hands). He provides straight talk on a variety of diet choices including salt, fats, carbs and organic food, and he documents the importance of regular sleep, stress reduction and positive thinking to your overall health. His suggestions throughout are simple, clear, and inexpensive.

Dr. Ostreicher advocates a back-to-basics, common-sense approach to staying young and healthy. We at Pediatric Dental Specialists couldn’t agree more, and we’d like to repeat the title of his book as our favorite piece of advice: don’t forget to Brush Your Teeth!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parsley and Other Ways To Brighten Your Smile from Pediatric Dental Specialists

At Pediatric Dental Specialists we see lots of patients concerned about their bad breath. So we want to educate you about what you can do to really keep your chompers clean and breath minty fresh!

Naturally, good oral hygiene is the first set. With proper brushing and regular dental checkups you can keep bad breath (halitosis) in check.

Certain foods, medications, smoking, sinus issues, or even gum disease cause most bad breath. If the stink lingers for longer than 24 hours, you should see us at Pediatric Dental Specialists. It might be something more serious, like dehydration, zinc deficiency, diabetes, liver failure, kidney failure, or even certain kinds of cancers!

In the meantime, here are some home remedies to keep you smiling bright from Pediatric Dental Specialists.

--Spice Up Your Life

Snack on some cloves, fennel, or anise after each particularly odorous snack.
--Don’t forget the tongue
Lots of people brush their teeth regularly, but leave the tongue alone. One of the main causes of bad breath is food and plaque residue on the surface of your tongue. So give it a nice gentle brush-over too!
--Watch your drinking habits
The worst options are coffee, wine, whiskey, and beer.
--Frequent brushing
Carry a toothbrush with you so brushing after each meal is convenient and refreshing! Trust us, you’ll love the way it makes you feel. If you can’t brush, still swish around a couple sips of water to remove any lingering food.
--Make your own Gargle
Gargling with a home mixture of sage, calendula, and myrrh gum extracts four times a day should ward off that bad breath potential.
--Parsley’s there for a reason
Finish your parsley after you finish your dinner and you’ll find a refreshing breath enhancer. Hate the texture? Throw a couple sprigs in a blender to sip after each meal.
--Sugarless Gum
Always a good idea to carry some mints or sugarless gum for that quick spruce up before you meet the boss.
--Don’t cut that cheese
The stronger the cheese, the stinkier your breath can become. Think about blue cheese and Roquefort? They really get the party started in your mouth and it’s hard to make them leave!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Sour Smile Is Not A Happy Smile -- Pediatric Dental Specialists

It’s no secret that sweet, sugary candies and drinks have an adverse effect of the health of your smile, but what about sour or tart candies? We at Pediatric Dental Specialists thought you might want to know what kind of an effect does eating or drinking something sour have on my smile?

Recent research from the Minnesota Dental Association suggests that the amount of acid in sour candies is enough to eat away at tooth enamel and cause cavities. Here are a few souring facts about sour candies, and some helpful tips on how to protect your teeth from Pediatric Dental Specialists(even if you cannot give up sour candies all together).


-Sour candies can be very acidic, and may actually burn the gums and cheeks, while weakening and wearing down the enamel on your teeth. (Check the acid levels in some of your favorite candies)

-It can take almost 20 minutes for the acid in sour candies to become neutral. Holding the acid in your mouth by sucking on sour hard candies or chewing sour gummies can keep the acid active for more than 20 minutes.

-The acid in sour candies can cause cavities and severe tooth decay.

Protect your teeth

-Limit the amount of sour candies that you eat on a daily basis, and if you do indulge, remember not to suck or chew on sour candies for long periods of time.

-After eating sour candies, rinse your mouth out with water, drink milk, or eat a couple slices of cheese. This will help neutralize the acid in your mouth (wait at least one hour before brushing your teeth with toothpaste, as this can actually increase the effects of acid on your teeth)

-If tooth erosion has already begun, ask your dentist about ways you can help reduce sensitivity and continue to protect your teeth.

Hope this helps! From Pediatric Dental Specialists.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fun New Quiz From Pediatric Dental Specialists

Pediatric Dental Specialists wants to know, where does all that soda pop go?

On average, the typical person consumes over 50 gallons of soda pop per year! The amount of acid and sugar found in a can of soda can cause serious tooth decay and lead to cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss!

We at Pediatric Dental Specialists know that you don’t want to lose your teeth, so take the soda pop quiz, presented by the Minnesota Dental Association, and learn more about how to keep your smile healthy.

It’s a fun interactive quiz, so enjoy! From Pediatric Dental Specialists.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bicycle Safety Tips from Pediatric Dental Specialists

At Pediatric Dental Specialists, we take a special interest in our patients and their development. One ways that they develop socially and physically is through learning to ride a bike.

Learning to ride a bicycle can be challenging. But it is so rewarding. So Dr. Cortez, Dr. Sanchez, and Dr. Planells found these great tips on the American Association of Pediatric web site and wanted to share them.

--Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike until he or she is ready, at about age 5 or 6. Consider the child's coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster (foot) brakes until your child is older and more experienced for hand brakes.

--Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he or she can try it out. The value of a properly fitting bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new one. Click here for more information on finding the proper fit.

--Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to "grow into." Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.

--Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. Many accidents happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets. Children learn best by observing you. Whenever you ride, put on your helmet.

--When purchasing a helmet, look for a label or sticker that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard.

--A helmet protects your child from serious injury, and should always be worn. And remember, wearing a helmet at all times helps children develop the helmet habit.

--A helmet should be worn so that it is level on the head, not tipped forwards or backwards. The strap should be securely fastened, and you should not be able to move the helmet in any direction. If needed, the helmet's sizing pads can help improve the fit.

Safe bicycle riding to everyone! From Pediatric Dental Specialists!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pediatric Dental Specialists Share Pool Safety Tips

Summer is coming and with it comes lots of swimming! Here are some helpful tips from Pediatric Dental Specialists that we found on the American Association of Pediatricians' web site.

--Install a fence at least four-feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.

--Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can't reach.

--Never leave children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.

--Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd's hook - a long pole with a hook on the end - and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd's hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.

--Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as "floaties." They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security.

--Children may not be developmentally ready for swim lessons until after their fourth birthday. Swim programs for children under 4 should not be seen as a way to decrease the risk of drowning.

--Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm's length, providing "touch supervision."

Have more questions about your children this summer? Give us a call at Pediatric Dental Specialists, we'd love to help!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pediatric Dental Specialists Want to Know if Your Playground is Safe

Summer is coming and that means your kids will be spending lots of time outside. Playgrounds are everywhere from your backyard to the neighborhood park. It is important to know what safety features to look for before your child runs over to jump on a swing.

At Pediatric Dental Specialists, we found some important regulations on the American Association of Pediatricians' web site. They include what to look for on a public playground and tips on ensuring your home swing set is functioning properly.

Here is to a Happy and Safe Summer from Pediatric Dental Specialist!

--Carefully supervise young children using playground equipment. Keep children from shoving, pushing, or fighting.

--The surface under playground equipment should be energy absorbent. Use safety - tested mats or loose fill materials (shredded rubber, sand, wood chips, or bark) maintained to a depth of at least 9 inches.

--Install the protective surface at least 6 feet (more for swings and slides) in all directions from the equipment.

--Swing seats should be made of something soft, not wood or metal.

--Children should not twist swings, swing empty seats, or walk in front of moving swings.

--Put home playground equipment together correctly. It should sit on a level surface and be anchored firmly to the ground.

--Cap all screws and bolts. Check periodically for loose nuts and bolts and broken, rusty, or sharp parts.

--Install playground equipment at least 6 feet from fences or walls.

--Check for hot metal surfaces on equipment such as those on slides, which could cause burns.

--Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, or pet leashes to playground equipment because children can strangle on them.


Monday, April 20, 2009

How to Keep Your Kids Safe While Exercising in the Heat from Pediatric Dental Specialists

Summer is coming and it is important for your kids to be able to play outside in the sun. Here are some great tips from Pediatric Dental Specialists to make sure everyone stays safe!

--The intensity of activities that last 15 minutes or more should be reduced whenever high heat and humidity reach critical levels.

--At the beginning of a strenuous exercise program or after traveling to a warmer climate, the intensity and duration of exercise should be limited initially and then gradually increased during a period of 10 to 14 days to accomplish acclimatization to the heat.

--Before prolonged physical activity, the child should be well-hydrated. During the activity, periodic drinking should be enforced, for example, each 20 minutes, 5 oz of cold tap water or a flavored sports drink for a child weighing 90 lbs, and 9 oz for an adolescent weighing 130 lbs, even if the child does not feel thirsty.

--Clothing should be light-colored and lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate evaporation of sweat. Sweat-saturated garments should be replaced by dry garments.

--Practices and games played in the heat should be shortened and more frequent water/hydration breaks should be instituted.

Any more questions, let us know at Pediatric Dental Specialists, we'd love to answer your questions!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How to Have Fun in the Sun and Stay Safe from Pediatric Dental Specialists

At Pediatric Dental Specialists, we want to make sure that you are able to enjoy the sun this summer and keep you and your little ones safe. Here are some great tips broken down by age group.

Babies under 6 months:

--Avoiding sun exposure and dressing infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck are still the top recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn. However when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of suncreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands. If an infant gets a sunburn, apply cold compresses to the affected area.

For Young Children:

---Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days. The SPF should be at least 15 and protect against UVA and UVB rays.

For Older Children:

--The first, and best, line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays), and cotton clothing with a tight weave.

--Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

--Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen - about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.

--Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

--Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect UV rays and may result in sunburn more quickly.

If you have more questions, don't hesitate to contact us at Pediatric Dental Specialists!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dr. Ana Planells Answers All Your Teeth Questions

At Pediatric Dental Specialists, we know just how important it is to keep your teeth healthy and in tip top shape. There are lots of things that affect your teeth and you may have questions that you forget to ask your dentist. So we had Dr. Ana Planells explain some commonly wondered about teeth concepts. Got more questions? Give us a call at Pediatric Dental Specialists. We'd love to discuss your teeth with you.

Can fingernail biting cause damage to my teeth? What about lip biting or biting the ends of pencils?

Fingernail biting, lip biting or biting the ends of pencils can all have harmful effects on the teeth. Nail biting/pencil biting can cause wear of the teeth and lead to chipping and cracking of the enamel. Lip biting can cause damage to the lips as well as move the teeth resulting in a change of the bite.

It is said that the changing seasons can have an effect on your body and joints. Can the seasons changing also have an effect on the way the mouth feels?

The changing seasons can cause individuals to suffer from seasonal allergies. A side effect of the seasonal allergies may be an increase in mouth breathing. Mouth breathing can result in a drying of the gums and cause the mouth to feel “dry”. During these times it is important to drink plenty of water to keep the mouth moist.

5. Is sugar-free gum good for my teeth, or can it still cause cavities?

Research has shown that sugar-free gum can decrease the incidence of cavities. Chewing sugar-free gum increases the saliva flow which acts to: neutralizes plaque acids, and helps clear the food resulting in fewer cavities.

Please remember that chewing gum is not recommended for very small children. The American Gum Association states “There are no specific guidelines on when a child can start chewing gum -- each child's development is unique and variable. Ultimately, the parent or custodian is responsible for deciding at what age, and under what conditions, their children can consume any foodstuff or candy, including chewing gum, and to ensure that they are aware of and understand any potential choking hazards.

The main point to consider is whether the child knows the concept of chewing without swallowing and do they have a general understanding of the risks and consequences of choking.

6. Is a soft toothbrush or a medium toothbrush better for my teeth and gums?

Brushing your teeth and gums twice a day is recommended as part of a daily oral hygiene regimen. In order to avoid abrasion of the gums it is recommend that you always use a soft toothbrush.

Please visit the American Dental Association website to see an animation on proper brushing techniques.

9. If I play sports and use a mouthguard can constantly biting down on the hard rubber eventually cause my teeth to shift and become crooked?

A mouthguard should be worn during all sports and activities where injury to the mouth is likely in order to protect the mouth and teeth and jaws from injury. A mouthguard is made from a flexible piece of plastic material. Constantly biting down on the mouthguard is unlikely to cause teeth to shift and become crooked. A custom made mouthguard is made with an imprint of one’s own teeth and is not designed to put pressure on the teeth to shift them.
For more information on mouthguards visit the American Dental Association.

10. If my wisdom teeth came in straight, do I still need to get them removed?

If your wisdom teeth came in straight you should consult with your dentist to see if they need not be removed. Your dentist will evaluate their shape/form, the health of your gums surrounding these teeth as well as your bite to make that determination.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Which Foods Are Actually Healthy For My Teeth? Dr. Planells Shares Her Insight

With so much marketing out there telling us what is good and not good for our teeth, it can be a bit confusing. So we asked Dr. Ana Planells to explain.

Which foods and drinks are actually healthy for my teeth?

The American Dental Association recommends that for good general and dental health you eat a diet rich in nutritious foods from the five food groups: breads and cereals and other grains; fruits; vegetables; meat, fish and protein alternatives and milk, yogurt and cheese. Limit excess snacking of foods that are starchy or sweet (crackers, cookies) and sweetened foods/drinks (chips, donuts, juices, carbonated soft drinks) which can lead to dental cavities.

Can hard candies or hard mints cause damage to my teeth?

Hard candies or hard mints can cause damage to your teeth. These hard foods can cause the enamel to crack or chip. They can also cause sealants or fillings to break. Also, unless they are sugar-free, they can cause an increase in cavities.

Are spicy or acidic foods bad for my teeth?

Acidic foods such as sodas/diet sodas can cause dental erosion due to the low pH of these foods/drinks. We recommend that for the prevention of dental cavities you avoid the consumption of carbonated soft drinks (including diet soft drinks).
Acidic and spicy foods can be irritants and should be avoided if you have a “canker sore”.

Does alcohol have an effect on the health of my teeth?

Alcohol consumption is not recommended for children!
Alcohol can have many harmful effects on the mouth. Alcohol consumption dries the mucous membranes (the lining of the mouth), and can increase the rate of cavities and gum disease. Alcohol consumption has also been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus

Stay tuned for next week, Dr. Planells will share even more of her wisdom, perhaps she'll talk about wisdom teeth!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pediatric Dental Specialists

With Summer rapidly approaching, we at Pediatric Dental Specialists understand the importance of being outside. So we are starting a series on outdoor activities and how to be safe while having fun in the sun. This week we talk about mouth guards, what they are, when to use them, the works. If you have any additional questions, give us a call at Pediatric Dental Specialists. We'd love to hear from you!

Q: What are athletic mouth protectors?

A: Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic. They are adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth.

Q: Why are mouth guards important?

A: Mouth guards hold top priority as sports equipment. They protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, and tongue. They help protect children from such head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.

Q: When should my child wear a mouth guard?

A: Whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, even gymnastics. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.

Q: How do I choose a mouth guard for my child?

A: Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard. So, choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in the locker room.

You can select from several options in mouth guards. First, preformed or "boil-to-fit" mouth guards are found in sports stores. Different types and brands vary in terms of comfort, protection, and cost. Second, customized mouth guards are provided through your pediatric dentist. They cost a bit more, but are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries. Your pediatric dentist can advise you on what type of mouth guard is best for your child.

Copyright © 2002-2008 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 16, 2009

What to do in an emergency from Pediatric Dental Specialists

Emergency Care
When your child needs urgent dental treatment, your pediatric dentist stands ready to help. Please keep the emergency number available and convenient.

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 to Pediatric Dental Specialists.

Monday, March 9, 2009

All About Fluoride From Pediatric Dental Specialists

Scientific research in the United States on Fluoride has been ongoing for over 60 years.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in well water, streams and lakes to one extent or another.

In the early 50’s, fluoride was found to be beneficial for developing permanent teeth in children. Children in communities that had higher amounts (around 1 part per million [1ppm] of water) showed lower or no cavities, whereas, children in communities with very little fluoride in the water had a higher incidence of tooth decay. Fluoride has been closely studied since then.

The proper (optimal-1PPM) amount of fluoride is deemed to be beneficial and amounts over 1.4 may cause an enamel condition called mild Fluorosis.

Some areas of the country such as Colorado and Texas have higher concentration of naturally occurring fluoride and children may get the “chalky” white spots or even some brown staining. There is a different condition that looks the same as Fluorosis but is Enamel Hypoplasia (Incomplete development of enamel).

Fluoride may be given systemically (supplements or drinking water with fluoride) or topically, such as at dental visits or toothpaste with fluoride.

Supplementation is provided by prescription by a physician or dentist after an assessment of how much fluoride may already be ingested, is completed.

In our practice, supplementation by fluoride tabs is generally discontinued after age 8. Of course the need for supplementation, its use and disuse is prescribed by the treating dentist on a case-by-case basis.

In 2007, the Metropolitan Water Company has fluoridated the drinking water so that clients from Los Angeles south to San Diego benefit form the use of fluoridated drinking water (Tap).

Frequently asked questions about fluoride:
1. Is fluoride good for my teeth, or bad for my teeth?

The proper amount of fluoride has been found to be beneficial for developing permanent teeth (in children).

2. When I was younger my dentist told me to use fluoride, do I still need to use it as a teen? As an adult?

No harmful effects will occur if we drink fluoridated water as a teen or as an adult.

3. How much fluoride should I be using each day?

The optimal amount of fluoride is 1part per million of water with 10-15 oz of water ingestion per day for children 5 and under and approximately 20-30 oz. for children 5-10 years old.

4. Many toothpaste says that fluoride is an ingredient, is this enough or do I still need a rinse in addition to brushing and flossing?

It is recommended that starting at age 2, a fluoridated toothpaste (a smear or pea-size amount) be placed by the supervising adult be used twice daily for oral hygiene. Unless prescribed by a dental professional, No other over-the-counter (OTC) fluoride rinse needs to be done.

5. Are there any at-home remedies (such as baking soda and peroxide) that I can use instead of fluoride?

There is no substitute for fluoride. The use of baking soda or peroxide is generally not recommended for children unless recommended by the treating dentist.

6. I’ve heard that fluoride can actually stain teeth or leave behind spots. Is this true? How can I avoid staining my teeth but still keep them healthy? If my teeth become stained or spotted, how can I fix this?

Fluoride will not spot teeth nor produce brown spots unless it is ingested in excessive amounts for a prolonged period of time and only on developing teeth. Staining of teeth may be caused by different factors. See the dentist for a diagnosis and treatment.

7. Should I drink water with fluoride or without? How much fluoride should there be in the water I drink? How can I tell if there is enough fluoride in my water?

If no supplementation has been prescribed by the pediatrician or dentist, drinking fluoridated water is recommended for children. No harmful effects have been noted for adults who drink fluoridated water.

8. Do you recommend fluoride for all your patients? Should certain people avoid using fluoride?

Ingestion of fluoride is recommended for the proper development of permanent teeth and topical (on surfaces of erupted teeth) fluoride for children and adult patients who may be susceptible to tooth decay or who have sensitivity of the roots of teeth. There is no known allergy to fluoride and it will not be harmful for people who ingest the recommended amount of it.

9. Is it best to use over-the-counter fluoride or to have a prescription? If I use over-the-counter fluoride, what brand do you recommend?

Fluoride is prescribed by a physician or dentist and is not sold over the counter in therapeutic dosages. There are over the counter products, such as many toothpastes that have fluoride in them but will always be at lower levels than the prescribed fluoride. For children over 2 years old, a fluoridated toothpaste under supervision of a responsible caretaker may be given. Only a “smear” or “pea-size” amount should be placed on the toothbrush.