Protecting Your Smile at Night

Do you wake up in the morning with painful headaches? If so, you may suffer from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. Sometimes grinding and clenching is unconscious and you don’t feel anything at all. Dr. Ann Kania can determine symptoms of bruxism simply by inspecting your mouth.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is an unconscious and chronic act of grinding or clenching your teeth. It is often a result of stress, anxiety, or nervousness. Bruxism puts extra pressure on your teeth. Over time, the enamel will wear down and weaken, causing your teeth to hurt, chip, crack, or shift out of place. Bruxism also affects your facial muscles. When you grind or clench, your facial muscles tighten and tense. This could cause headaches, jaw pain, earaches, jaw popping, or clicking.


What Do I Need to Know About Dental Implants?

Dental implantFor patients who are missing teeth, it can be difficult to know which dental restoration is right for them. We’ve put together a short list of what you need to know if you’re considering dental implants.

Who Gets Implants?

Implants replace missing teeth. Many patients prefer dental implants to dentures and bridges, because implants function most like real teeth. Dental implant preserve function and bone at the site. Additionally, there is no age limit—you are never “too old” to get implants.

Who Can’t Get Implants?

Some health conditions and lifestyle choices may cause implants to be less successful. Patients with these issues should consult with Dr. Kania to see if they are good candidates for implants. These conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • People who smoke or use chewing tobacco
  • Patients who have received extensive radiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck
  • People whose diabetes is not well managed or who have diabetes-related health complications
  • Older patients with advanced osteoporosis
  • Patients with severe gum disease or osteonecrosis (dead bone) due to gum disease
  • People who have heart disease or high blood pressure

Talk to Dr. Kania about your overall health and ask whether you have any health conditions that would prevent you from getting implants. (more…)

What You Need to Know About Flossing

Woman flossingWhat is Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease increases your risk of serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and obesity. As the second most common disease in the world, periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Fortunately, it’s preventable. The most important weapon in the war on gum disease isn’t expensive or high-tech; it’s just a little thread that ties everything together. Flossing is, hands down, the best way to prevent periodontitis. Yet most people don’t floss daily, or even at all.

What Happens When I Don’t Floss?

When you don’t floss, bacteria and food particles stay trapped between your teeth. Your gums become irritated and swollen, and are no longer flush with your teeth. This creates a space for bacteria to lodge between teeth and gums and start breeding out of reach. As time goes on, both hard and soft tissue wears away by these microbes and their waste products. Eventually, bone and gum loss leaves teeth barely attached to your jaw, and prone to falling out. (more…)

The Gender Gap: Who Has Better Oral Health, Men or Women?

Man and woman arm-wrestlingIn almost every measure of oral health, women win the battle of the sexes. Compared to men, women are:

  • Almost twice as likely to have had a dental checkup in the last year
  • Almost twice as likely to notice a missing tooth
  • 17% more likely to be embarrassed by having a missing tooth themselves
  • 26% more likely to floss on a daily basis
  • 11% more aware that visiting a periodontist can contribute to good overall health

Additionally, women brush their teeth more, have better gum health, and a more positive attitude overall towards dentistry and oral health. So what’s a guy to do to catch up?

Schedule a dental checkup every six months: Dental checkups can include everything from a cleaning to screening for oral cancer—men have twice the oral cancer rate of women. This may be in part due to their lower incidence of dental checkups. Early detection is essential to successful cancer treatment, and it only adds about five minutes to your checkup.

Brush and floss on a regular basis: You should brush two times a day, and floss every night before going to bed. Rinse well with water after coffee, tea, soda, and anything else that’s sugary or acidic. Use mouthwash after you floss, and don’t eat or drink anything after that.

Seek prompt treatment for missing teeth: When you lose a tooth, you start to lose jawbone mass in the empty socket. Prompt treatment saves your jaw and, if your tooth was knocked out in an accident, might even save your tooth!

See a periodontist: Untreated gum disease leads to lost teeth and lost bone. Early treatment is more predictable and cost effective than waiting until the disease advances. If your gums are red, tender, or swollen, or if they bleed during brushing or flossing, you’ve got gum disease. Ordinary brushing and flossing cannot reach infection or plaque below the gum line—it must be professionally treated.

Dr. Ann Kania is a periodontist operating in the San Diego area. Using the latest in dental technology, Dr. Kania specializes in gum disease, dental implants, and bone grafts. She also offers routine dental care such as checkups, cleanings, and oral cancer screenings. If you haven’t seen a dentist in the last six months, you’re due for a checkup. Call our office today at (760) 642-0711 to schedule your appointment.

Brush Up on Modern Toothbrushes

Is a manual toothbrush as good as an electric toothbrush?

Good, old-fashioned brushing, without batteries, can be as effective as using an electric toothbrush if you use proper technique and brush long enough. Most people, however, don’t brush effectively or for the full two minutes that dentists recommend. A power toothbrush provides thousands of brush strokes per minute, and people tend to brush longer with an power toothbrush than with a manual one.  Many people tend to press too hard with their manual brush and use big head sizes and firm bristles.  For these reasons manual brushing can be more traumatic to the oral tissues than power brushes.

What’s the difference between an electric and a sonic toothbrush?

Most electric toothbrushes produce 3,000 to 7,500 rotations per minute, while a sonic brush can scrub 30-40,000 times per minute. However, the cleanliness of your teeth depends on how thoroughly you brush, not how many strokes you use.  Some people have thin, fragile tissue that can actually be damaged by aggressive brushing technique.  Dr. Kania will evaluate your needs and recommend the best brush for you.  (more…)

Thanksgiving and Teeth: From the First Thanksgiving to Today

This holiday has been celebrated in America for over 300 years. The traditional story states that Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony did not have enough food to last the winter, and the local Wampanoag tribe gave them food and taught them how to live off the land. Most of the foods we have during this holiday were part of those early harvest celebrations. As with other aspects of life, however, dental care has changed quite a bit from the first Thanksgiving to this one.

Dental Care at the First Thanksgiving

When the Pilgrims arrived in America, the field of dentistry didn’t exist as we think of it today. Barbers, who were also surgeons, performed tooth extractions. Toothbrushes had bristles made from hog hairs and handles made from wood or bone. They used salt as an abrasive cleanser – toothpaste didn’t exist in its present form. Some Pilgrims adopted the oral care practices of the Native Americans, who used frayed twigs as toothbrushes. Several plentiful trees – like juniper, oak, fir, and walnut – have antimicrobial wood, so chewing their twigs killed oral bacteria. To remove tartar and plaque, the Native Americans made an abrasive paste from the curacua plant and rubbed this on their teeth and gums. They chewed herbs like sage and mint to kill odorous bacteria and give their breath a fresher smell.

Since their diets had very little sugar, the Native Americans had very few cavities. Eating raw, fibrous fruits and vegetables like carrots and apples kept jaw muscles strong. These foods also helped remove food particles stuck between teeth. Raw nuts contained heart-healthy fats that absorbed acid from other foods. When toothache struck, they used several herbs to ease the pain. Tarragon, calendula (a type of marigold), yarrow root, and willow bark all have analgesic properties. Salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, was first extracted from willow bark.

Thanksgiving mealHow Have Things Changed?

Today, we have toothbrushes with nylon bristles and plastic handles. Fluoridated toothpaste helps prevent cavities, and those cavities that do occur can often be treated without the need for extractions. We should all eat more whole natural foods like those eaten hundreds of years ago.  Take some tips from the first Thanksgiving and offer some dental-friendly foods at your feast. Raw nuts, fibrous fruits and veggies, and cranberries – which may keep cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth – are a welcome addition at any holiday table. Keep teeth and gums healthy by rinsing well with water after you’ve finished eating.

We are thankful for all of our patients and the privilege to care for them.  Please feel free to visit Dr. Kaniaperiodontist.  Call our San Diego office today at 760-642-0711 to schedule your appointment. We serve patients in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Carmel Valley, and the greater San Diego area.


New Study Links Common Virus to Oral Cancer

A recent study by the University of Southern California has linked a widespread virus, human cytomegalovirus (CMV), to the most common types of salivary gland cancer. Researchers have discovered that CMV re-activates a molecular pathway that normally turns off after birth, triggering unrestricted growth of virus-shedding tumors. This virus may also be implicated in other types of cancer.

What Is Cytomegalovirus?

Researcher with microscopeThe name comes from the characteristic large cells produced by infection with the virus. CMV is in the herpes virus family; all herpes viruses can lay dormant in the body for many years without producing symptoms. These viruses avoid detection by the immune system by creating chemicals that suppress infected cells’ immune reaction.  Other human herpes viruses include Epstein-Barr, herpes simplex I and II (cold sores and genital herpes), and varicella zoster, which causes chicken pox in children and shingles in adults. Pregnant mothers infected with herpes viruses can pass the infection to the fetus, resulting in birth defects; cytomegalovirus is the most commonly transmitted. It is estimated that 50-80% of Americans are infected with CMV. Though it does not normally pose a threat to healthy adults, people with compromised immune systems – transplant patients, HIV-positive individuals, and newborn infants – are at risk for serious illness and death. A baby is at risk if a pregnant woman first contracts CMV during pregnancy.

The Cancer Connection

Cytomegalovirus shows a preference for the salivary glands, where it may eventually cause cancer. Most salivary gland tumors caused by CMV are painless and will go undetected until later stages of the disease. Along with human papillomavirus (HPV), cytomegalovirus is one of the 10 viruses known to cause cancer in humans. HPV is implicated in some oral cancers, especially those in young adults. Though oral cancer cases among older adults are declining, cases in adults under 40 are increasing, and most of these are due to HPV. Herpes viruses are among the most common sexually transmitted diseases.

Early detection is essential for patients with oral cancers. Patients undergoing treatment while cancer is in stage I have a 90% five-year survival rate. Since about two-thirds of oral cancers are not detected until stage II or III, the overall five-year survival rate for all patients is about 57% and has not significantly increased in decades. Dr. Ann Kania can screen for oral cancer in as little as five minutes during your visit. Schedule an appointment today by calling our Encinitas office at 760-642-0711. We serve patients in San Marcos, Carlsbad,  Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, San Marcos, and the greater San Diego area.


Periodontal Disease: How Bad Could It Be?

FlossingWe’ve all been reminded to floss regularly and brush.  A lack of good dental home care can contribute to periodontal disease.  Periodontitis, meaning “inflammation around the teeth” is a progressive condition that is a major cause of tooth loss.  If caught in the early stages, it can be stopped from progressing. However, if allowed to continue, periodontitis leads to permanent damage. But just how bad could it get?

Why Is Flossing Important?

Flossing removes bacteria, food particles, and dead cells from between teeth. Your toothbrush simply can’t reach all the places that flossing can. If you don’t floss regularly, you may notice that your gums bleed when you do. This can indicate the presence of one or more strains of bacteria associated with periodontitis. (more…)

Gum Disease and Diabetes

Diabetics check their blood glucose level with a glucometer.

Recent research links periodontal disease (gum disease) to a number of systemic health conditions, one of which is diabetes. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and San Diego area Periodontist, Dr. Kania wants you to understand how gum disease contributes to diabetes, and how diabetics are at higher risk for gum disease.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the body can’t produce enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. Insulin is required to break down sugar in the blood. Diabetics, therefore, have a high blood sugar level, and as a result, they experience a range of symptoms and side effects that can become life threatening. (For more information on diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Foundation website.)

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is infection of the gums caused by bacterial build up and an inappropriate immune response. Over time, gum disease can lead to oral health problems, like tooth looseness (mobility) and loss, gum recession, and jawbone deterioration. The disease has also been linked to systemic health problems ranging from diabetes complications, pregnancy complications, increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

How are gum disease and diabetes linked?

According to the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF), managing gum disease can reduce the risk for developing diabetes. All inflammatory diseases increase the blood glucose level, or the blood sugar level. For diabetics, the increase only exacerbates the problem of insufficient insulin. Good oral healthcare and healthy gum tissue reduces the risk for developing diabetes, as well as for diabetes complications.

If you’re a diabetic, tell your dentist and hygienist. If you love a diabetic, explain to him or her the importance of regular daily dental care at home, combined with professional dental care. Dr. Kania, a periodontist, has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of all phases of gum disease. If you need a periodontist or notice that your gums are red, swollen, or tender, call Dr. Kania in Encinitas, CA today at 760-642-0711 for an appointment. Dr. Kania offers minimally invasive laser periodontal treatment with Periolase, the no-cut, no-sew dental laser.

Ouch! My Teeth Hurt!

Toothaches have many causes, from cavities and fractures to internal infections. Tooth sensitivity is a bit different from a toothache. Sensitive teeth cause pain when they are exposed to temperature fluctuations or pressure. In some cases, thin tooth enamel creates sensitivity. Sometimes harsh bleaching or significant enamel reduction (as in preparation for a veneer) result in sensitivity. Another common cause is gum recession.

Why is gum recession a problem?
Bone, ligament and gum tissue is supposed to cover the entire root of a tooth. Unlike the crown of a tooth, the root is not covered with protective enamel. Therefore, exposed teeth roots have lost bone, ligament and gum tissue and can become prone to sensitivity.

Why do gums recede?
Gum recession, or a receding gum line, may result from years of brushing teeth too hard, from smoking tobacco, from gum disease, or simply from age.  Some people have inherited “thin tissue” and are more prone to recession.

How is gum recession corrected?
Once gums recede, the only way to build the tissue back up is with a gum graft. Gum tissue is usually taken from the roof of the patient’s mouth, but it may also come from a donor bank if necessary. Dr. Kania secures the new tissue over receding gums, and as healing progresses, the new tissue is accepted as part of the body. (more…)