Heart Health Tips from Your Encinitas Periodontist

Dr. Ann Kania is committed to providing excellent dental and periodontal care. Our staff also cares about the general health of all our patients. Since February is designated as Heart Health Awareness month, we would like to provide our readers and patients with helpful information about heart disease. As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, researchers have discovered a link between gum disease and heart-related illness. For our patients with periodontal disease, we want to help inform you of the best ways to protect your heart health.

Heart Disease Facts

  • Heart disease is the number one fatal illness in the United States. Estimates show that about 25% of annual deaths are attributed to heart-related illnesses.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart illness.
  • Each year over 700,000 people in the United States will suffer from their first heart attack.
  • Heart disease affects people of all ethnic backgrounds.
  • The state with the highest incidence of heart disease is Mississippi. Minnesota has the lowest incidence rate. (more…)

The Facts on Xylitol

Many of us feel guilty if we chew gum or eat sugary foods because we have been told that sugar is bad for our teeth. While this is completely true, most chewing gums and breath mints contain an ingredient that is actually good for our teeth. Chances are, if you chew gum or use breath mints, you have used this ingredient before. It is called xylitol.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is often used as a substitute for sugar. It is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol, a compound frequently used in the place of table sugar. Xylitol sweetens foods and chewing gum, but doesn’t produce the oral health threats that sugar does. A study dating back as far as the 1970’s shows that xylitol is not harmful to the teeth and may actually reduce the risk of tooth decay.

How Does Xylitol Prevent Cavities?

At any given moment, your mouth is filled with harmful bacteria. These bacteria, especially the mutans streptococci strain, aggressively attack your teeth and cause cavities. When you eat sugary foods or drink sugary beverages, you provide nourishment for harmful bacteria, which feed off of sugar. However, when you consume xylitol, you attract these harmful bacteria, but starve them instead of feed them. Essentially, xylitol tricks bacteria into thinking it is a sugary food source. Xylitol disrupts the colonies of bacteria that form plaque and can protect your teeth from dental caries by reducing harmful calculus and bacterial buildup in the mouth. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of xylitol and acknowledges the claim that xylitol is a great alternative to sugar. (more…)

The Benefits of Fluoride in Oral Health

As a specialist in Periodontics, Dr. Ann Kania places a high priority on preventive care. Throughout her career, she has seen the damaging effects of dental disease in general and specifically gum disease.  She strives to educate her patients so that they can reduce their risk for potential oral health problems. As part of any oral health regimen, fluoride is helpful to maintaining strong teeth and a healthy mouth. Below are some facts about fluoride and its many benefits to overall oral health.

  • Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. It can be found in some foods and deep water supplies.
  • As a mineral, it replenishes mineral loss in teeth.
  • It strengthens tooth enamel. Healthy tooth enamel is essential to fighting off cavities and infection of the gum tissues.
  • Many toothpaste brands contain fluoride. When purchasing toothpaste, look for the American Dental Association’s seal of approval.
  • Brushing teeth with fluoridated toothpaste helps ward off the buildup of plaque. Filled with harmful bacteria, plague buildup is dangerous to your gum health. (more…)

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Tooth Discoloration

Did you know that there are different types of tooth stains? Extrinsic and intrinsic stain involve different areas of teeth. In most cases, Dr. Ann Kania and her professional staff can help you understand the cause of your tooth discoloration.

What Are the Differences Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Stains?

Extrinsic stains affect your tooth enamel. In this case, some staining may occur from foods and beverages that discolor your teeth such as coffee, wine, and soda. Smoking tobacco also contributes to discoloration of your teeth as well.

Intrinsic stains refer to the inner parts of your tooth. Intrinsic stains involve the dentin of your tooth. Dentin can darken or discolor with a yellow tint for various reasons. These stains can be caused by an overexposure to fluoride during childhood, root canal treatment, trauma to the tooth, childhood medication, or your mother may have used certain types of antibiotics while pregnant when your teeth were forming.

Age related discoloration may be a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors.  Tooth dentin will yellow over time.  This can make the tooth appear darker.  The enamel that covers the crown of your tooth will thin in time (like many other tissues in your body). Thin enamel and darkening dentin result in darker teeth.  In addition, teeth can be damaged or chipped.  Such trauma can irritate the pulp – causing darkening.   (more…)

Bad Mood = Bad Gum Health

During an emotional time in your life, you probably change your behavioral patterns to adjust to your feelings. Don’t be tempted during those times to neglect your dental health.  Visit Dr. Kania during negative life events, such as trauma, stress, and illness, to defend against your risk of gum disease.

Negative Life Events

Studies show that the severity of gum disease increases with the amount of negativity in your life. Negative life events include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Death of loved one
  • Illness
  • Physical or Mental Abuse


Vitamin C Keeps Gums Strong

The foods you eat are important because they affect your oral health.  There are a number of nutrients that are required for good oral health.   Vitamin C is an important nutrient that can help keep your gums strong, reducing your risk of gum disease. Dr. Ann Kania can assess the health and strength of your gums.


Vitamin C is an essential component of collagen development, which helps build the framework of tissues, including your gums. Collagen is constantly being formed by your body.  The nutrient also helps strengthen your gum tissue and blood vessels to anchor your teeth into your gums and make your gum lining resistant to bacteria. When your gum tissues become weak, bacteria can easily enter your gums and cause inflammation and infection. It’s important to have vitamin C in your system so your tissues remain strong.


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.