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…)

Periolase No-Cut, No-Sew Laser Gum Treatment

If you’re one of the nearly 80% of Americans who have gum disease, and the condition has gotten out of control, you may be advised to undergo periodontal surgery. Dr. Kania, a San Diego periodontist practicing in Encinitas, offers the innovative no-cut, no-sew procedure.  The protocal is called LANAP (laser assisted new attachment procedure) with the Periolase.

Gum disease results in significant infection, that in turn breaks down periodontal attachment (bone, ligament and gum).  The loss of this tissue results in tooth loss. Treatment that breaks this destructive cycle will set the way for new, healthy tissue to naturally regenerate. However, cutting away tissue is not enough – the underlying infection must be treated.

If you need gum surgery, the traditional approach would involve a rather invasive procedure. Damaged gum tissue would be cut away with a surgical scalpel, the tooth roots would be cleaned – possibly bone graft material placed and then the tissue would be sutured and packed for healing. Some patients have found traditional gum surgery to be painful and traumatic. (more…)

Dental Implants San Diego

Choosing whether to replace missing teeth with a dental bridge or a dental implant is a big decision. Cost, of course, is a concern, but also the actual procedure. What does it entail? How long is recovery? Will you be uncomfortable or have to be on a special diet after the procedure? How can you find a doctor with experience, training, and a great track record, as well as one who’ll listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and make you feel confident, comfortable, and well cared for during your procedure?

As a periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania is a dental specialist who offers complete dental implant placement. Whether you need one tooth replaced or you’d like to secure a bridge, partial, or denture with implants, Dr. Kania will be happy to answer your questions and discuss treatment options with you. (more…)

Dr. Ann Kania, Periodontist for North County, San Diego, Encinitas

As a periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania provides diagnosis of and treatment for gum disease, a condition that afflicts up to 80% of Americans. In addition, Dr. Kania specializes in placing and restoring dental implants for tooth replacement, as well as denture stabilization. Cosmetic dental surgery, laser periodontal therapy (LANAP), tooth extractions and bone augmentation are just a few of the procedures Dr. Kania offers.

What Is Periodontics? Click Here to Find Out!

On this blog, you’ll have access to the latest developments in periodontal, implant, and cosmetic periodontics. Dr. Kania will keep you informed about minimally invasive treatment options, as well as preventive techniques that could save your teeth and your health.

Dr. Kania always welcomes questions. You can call the office, post a comment on this blog, or share your thoughts on the doctor’s Facebook page. More information about Dr. Kania and her practice can be found on her website, at

To speak with Dr. Kania directly, or to schedule a consultation, call 760-642-0711. Her Encinitas periodontist office serves patients from San Diego’s North County area: including those from Carlsbad, La Costa, Encinitas, Leucadia, Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach, Del Mar and Carmel Valley.