Encinitas Dentist Gives Clues that Suggest You May Have Bruxism

Are you teeth sensitive to temperature?

Can you bite into ice cream or drink a hot cup of coffee without cringing? If hot or cold foods hurt your teeth, you may be experiencing symptoms of teeth grinding, bruxism. Here’s how some tooth sensitivity can develop. The center of your tooth, known as the tooth pulp, is the nerve center of your entire tooth. This part of the tooth is surrounded by a soft layer of dentin and a hard layer of enamel. The dentin is made of microscopic tubes which transfer sensation to the tooth’s nerves. Enamel protects the dentin with a hard outer shell.

Made from the hardest substance your body can produce, enamel is destroyed by teeth grinding. Tooth sensitivity can occur as a result of erosion, abrasion, attrition or abfraction.  When tooth structure is worn away the exposed dentin and tooth pulp can become sensitive to extreme temperatures in what you eat and drink.

Do you have chronic morning headaches or earaches?

Often associated with bruxism, TMJ disorder, or TMD, is a condition related to jaw issues. The jaw joint that allows you to open your mouth and chew is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. Since nocturnal bruxism involves inappropriate teeth grinding throughout the night, your jaw muscles can become exhausted from clenching pressure, contributing to TMJ disorder. Symptoms of TMD include headaches, neck pain, and earaches especially in the morning.

Do you notice more tooth decay than usual at your dental checkup?

If your enamel is worn from clenching and grinding, your teeth may experience more temperature sensitivity, and also have more vulnerability to tooth decay.  The loss of enamel increases the risk of decay.  At a dental checkup our Encinitas dentist can determine if you’re smile is suffering from advanced tooth decay. (more…)

Encinitas Periodontist Takes Personal Approach to Dental Care

Dr. Ann Kania believes that the most important part of treating her patients is educating them about their own oral wellbeing and what they must do in their everyday lives to maintain their healthy and vibrant smiles. Dr. Kania received her dental degree from the University of California, San Francisco, and completed her residency in periodontology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine As an Encinitas periodontist, Dr. Kania knows that chronic infections such as periodontal (gum) disease appear to be associated with serious health issues, including heart disease and diabetes, if not detected and treated by a specialist. Gum disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss, which can cause the bone of your jaw to weaken and lead to facial collapse in later years.

Helping You Prevent Gum Disease

You can take certain measures to help strengthen your defense against gum disease before it becomes an issue. While brushing your teeth daily removes debris from your teeth and protects against certain bacteria, professional care is essential to preventing gum disease. If you do not have gum disease, Dr. Kania may suggest a dental cleaning known as prophylaxis, intended to prevent infection. If it is too late for prevention, Dr. Kania will perform a comprehensive exam to determine the extent of damage and consult with you to decide the best course of action to control the disease. (more…)

San Diego Periodontist Explains how Diabetes affects Oral Health

Did you know that over 25 million people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes? Even more startling is the fact that roughly 80 million people have symptoms of prediabetes. Patients with diabetes are instructed to test their blood glucose levels, be very mindful of what they eat, and exercise frequently. While these actions are very important for controlling diabetes, many diabetic patients may be unaware how diabetes impacts their oral health—especially the development of gum disease. Your San Diego periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania explains.

How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

Because diabetes impacts a patient’s immune system, diabetics are less likely to fight off infection. High blood sugar levels impair the body’s ability to fight bacteria. Diabetes also impacts saliva production. Because saliva helps naturally rinse the mouth and teeth, a decrease in saliva affects the PH level in the mouth. This condition may lead to an increased risk for tooth decay or gum disease. Patients with diabetes are also more susceptible to oral fungal infections such as thrush.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

Research shows that diabetics are more susceptible to gum disease. Periodontal disease can actually cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Because gum disease involves the infection and inflammation of gum tissue, a weakened immune system makes fighting off periodontal diseases more difficult. Diabetics with periodontitis may experience a more aggressive deterioration of their oral health than non-diabetic patients. (more…)

Encinitas Periodontist Discusses the Incidence of Gum Disease in Women

Did you know that women typically take better care of their oral health than men? Even though women, on average, floss and brush their teeth more thoroughly than men, women have a higher rate of gum (periodontal) disease. You have probably noticed how often we have talked about the health of your mouth affecting your entire body. Many people believe that gum disease is only caused by poor oral hygiene. However, in reality gum disease may be influenced by a number of factors. For women, hormonal fluctuations during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause may result in triggers that increase the risk of developing gum disease.

Puberty and Gum Disease

During puberty, blood flow is increased to the gum tissue. This occurs because the body releases higher levels of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. Girls may experience tender, red, or swollen gums during puberty, too. Over time, gum sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations will lessen. Dr. Ann Kania recommends that her patients take extra care of their oral health during puberty by flossing and brushing thoroughly.  A power brush and antimicrobial rinse may be recommended.

Pregnancy and Gum Disease

Some women develop gingivitis during pregnancy. Common symptoms of gum disease during pregnancy include gums that bleed when brushing or flossing or tender gums. Gingivitis typically develops during the second month of pregnancy and may progressively worsen until the eighth month. Some research indicates that gum disease is linked to early births and lower birth weights. It should also be noted that women who take common birth control medications may experience gingivitis, too. (more…)

Encinitas Periodontist Discusses Dental Phobias and Anxiety Disorders

Did you know that May is Mental Health Month? Your Encinitas periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania raises awareness for mental health by discussing the impact of dental phobias and anxiety disorders on patients and their oral health.

Information on Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Some estimates indicate that up to 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. Types of anxiety disorders include post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and specific phobias. Although these disorders may differ in severity and symptoms, most patients suffer with intense fears and irrational thinking. Fortunately, anxiety disorders are easier to diagnose and treat than other types of mental illness.

Dental Phobias

Did you know about one out of every five people are afraid of visiting the dentist? While some patients are only mildly afraid, others may have such intense fears that they forgo receiving necessary oral healthcare. Severe fears of visiting the dentist are considered a specific phobia. A person with a specific phobia often experiences heart palpitations, panic attacks, dizziness, and debilitating anxiety when faced with a particular situation or object. (more…)

Types of Periodontal Disease Explained by Your San Diego Periodontist

Have you ever wondered why gum disease is such a threat to your oral health? Did you know that there are different types of gum disease? Periodontal disease can advance into a serious medical condition that requires professional treatment. Your Encinitas periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania explains.


This common type of gum disease often produces very mild symptoms. Patients who have gingivitis may find blood on their toothbrush or notice that their gum tissue appears swollen. Gingivitis is usually caused by poor oral hygiene. Fortunately, with improved oral hygiene methods and professional treatment, gingivitis is a reversible form of gum disease.


More serious than gingivitis, periodontitis poses serious risks to a patient’s oral health. There are different forms of periodontitis such as chronic periodontitis and aggressive periodontitis. Once gum disease progresses to an advanced stage, the condition cannot be reversed.

Chronic periodontitis – The most common form of advanced gum disease is chronic periodontitis. Characteristics of chronic periodontitis include the formation of periodontal pockets between teeth and gums and gum line recession. The bacterial infection associated with chronic periodontitis progressively destroys teeth and bones by weakening the supporting structures of teeth over time. Although some children develop chronic periodontitis, this type of gum disease usually affects adults. (more…)

Your Encinitas Periodontist Discusses Oral Hygiene Methods Throughout History

Have you ever wondered how people in ancient times cleaned their teeth? You might think that people in primitive civilizations were unaware of the need for oral hygiene. While it is true that modern methods of oral hygiene surpass those of the past, people throughout history acknowledged the importance of a clean mouth. Dr. Ann Kania and our team offer a brief history of oral hygiene.

Oral Hygiene History

  • The earliest version of the toothbrush appeared around 3,500 B.C. in Ancient Babylon. People during this time used twigs called “chew sticks” to clean their teeth. One end of the chew stick was frayed for brushing and the other end was sharpened to clean between teeth.
  • Ancient Egyptians made a rudimentary version of toothpaste using ground pumice and vinegar.
  • In feudal China, people attached boar’s hair to bamboo sticks to clean teeth. Monks in Southeast Asia used a similar method where horse tail was tied to ox bone.
  • Manufactured toothbrushes were not available until the 18th century. William Addis is credited with mass producing the first toothbrush in England.
  • In Western Europe and North America, people made homemade toothpastes from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
  • The first toothpastes were sold in powder form. People would dip their wet toothbrushes in the powder to create a paste.
  • Fluoride has been added to toothpaste since 1955. Today, all ADA accepted toothpastes contain fluoride.

Could you imagine using boar’s hair as a toothbrush or having no access to professional oral healthcare? Fortunately, modern oral hygiene methods combined with regular oral health checkups have greatly improved our quality of life. Although we have electric toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss at our disposal, you still need to schedule routine oral examinations and professional cleanings. To reserve an appointment with Dr. Kania, call our Encinitas periodontist office at (760) 642-0711. We serve patients from La Costa, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Carlsbad, San Diego, and the surrounding communities.

Are Dental X-rays Safe? Your Encinitas Periodontist Explains

Have you ever wondered if dental X-rays are safe? Are you concerned about exposure to unnecessary radiation? The truth is that X-rays are an essential part of oral examinations. Dental X-rays can reveal oral health problems such as bone loss, cysts, tumors, and dental caries that may not be detectable to the naked eye. Although dental X-rays emit some radiation to capture images of the oral cavity, radiation emission is actually quite minimal. Dr. Ann Kania explains.

Why do patients need dental X-rays?

At oral examinations, panoramic X-rays and bite-wing X-rays are taken to assess patients’ oral health. Images captured by X-rays are incredibly useful for diagnosing oral health conditions such as periodontal disease and tooth decay.

How much radiation do dental X-rays emit?

Traditional dental X-rays emit about a day’s worth of radiation. Every day, you are exposed to some radiation from environmental factors. For example, small amounts of radon in the air or living in a brick house expose people to daily radiation. In most cases, dental X-rays emit about 1.5 millirems of radiation. When compared to other diagnostic imaging procedures such as mammograms or CT scans, dental X-ray emission is minimal. (more…)

San Diego Periodontist Discusses Oral Cancer

Did you know that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month? Dr. Ann Kania along with the American Dental Association use this month to educate the public on the dangers of oral cancer. This year, nearly 40,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed by doctors and dentists throughout the United States. Sadly, almost 8,000 lives are lost annually to this illness. Like other types of cancer, detecting oral cancer early on increases a patient’s chances of survival.

Oral Cancer Information and Risk Factors

Oral cancers may form anywhere in the oral cavity including on the lips, tongue, and soft oral tissues. Certain lifestyle choices significantly increase the risk for oral cancer. Common risk factors such as using tobacco and heavy alcohol use contribute to oral cancer. Patients who are carriers of HPV or those who have had excessive UV exposure are also at risk. However, nearly one-fourth of patients who developed oral cancer had no known risk factors.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Oral sores that heal slowly
  • Bumps or lumps in oral tissue
  • Discoloration on the lips, tongue, or soft tissues
  • Persistent hoarseness or sore throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Earaches
  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss (more…)

Causes of Tooth Loss Explained by Your Encinitas Periodontist

Unlike childhood, where losing a tooth was almost like a rite of passage, losing teeth in adulthood is hardly something to be excited about. In fact, for many patients, losing teeth is distressing and traumatic. Patients with missing teeth often feel self conscious and embarrassed by their smiles. The physiological effects of tooth loss include the diminished ability to speak properly and masticate (chew) food. Contrary to popular belief, tooth loss is not a natural part of the aging process; your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Dr. Ann Kania discusses the causes of tooth loss below.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontitis (advanced gum disease) is the number one cause of tooth loss in adulthood. Gum disease infects and inflames the gum tissue. As the infection and inflammation worsens, the natural bond between your teeth and gum tissue is separated. Over time, your teeth become loose without the support of neighboring gum tissue. Tartar buildup filled with bacteria attaches to the roots of teeth as well. Preventing periodontal disease is important for keeping your teeth for a lifetime. For patients who currently have gum disease, we strongly encourage that they manage their illness with professional treatment and meticulous oral hygiene at home.

Traumatic Injuries to the Teeth

Traumatic injuries are another cause of tooth loss. Injuries may chip, crack, dislodge, or knock teeth out of the mouth. Powerful blunt force from a nasty fall or contact sports often results in traumatic tooth injury. (more…)