Caveman Plaque

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Caveman Plaque

Scientific break-throughs have allowed scientists to analyze plaque on Neanderthal man’s teeth!  They have found that there are striking differences in their diets, depending on where they lived.  The findings in the current issue of the Nature journal mark the first and oldest dental plaque to be genetically analyzed.  Caveman samples were studied from two different areas ranging from 36,000 to 48,000 years ago.

   This newest research changes the perception of our “caveman ancestors” from  grunting club-bearing beasts to individuals who are capable, intelligent, and friendly.

 Understanding the Neanderthal diet means studying their teeth, specifically the layers of hardened plaque called calculus.  This hardened grunge contains DNA particles of food and microbes that occupied ancient man’s mouth.  The calculus that hardens on our teeth actually locks in and preserves the bacteria in our mouth.  The caveman studied from the Belgian area (36,000 years ago) shows that they ate mostly the meat of rhinoceros and wild sheep.  Whereas, the caveman from Spain (48,000 years ago) ate mushrooms, pine nuts and moss, and no meat!  All this has come to light from being able to study our distant ancestors calcified plaque.  It appears that eating meat was relatively new to these cavemen!

 Also found in this hardened plaque was evidence that the Spanish caveman suffered from a stomach bug and a dental abscess.  Even more interesting is that there were signs that ancient man may have self-medicated.  The fossilized calculus showed signs of them using poplar as a form of aspirin, and a natural antibiotic mold found on some plants.  It can only be imagined that they just knew they felt better when eating these items.

 One of the most fascinating discoveries is that the oldest microbe newly discovered contains the same bacteria prevalent in today’s gum disease.  And this microbe dates back 120,000 years ago!  How did this microbe pass from ancient caveman to our human ancestors?  One theory is that neaderthal and humans were friendlier than originally thought.  They may have exchanged food or kisses, which would explain how this was passed between these two ancient peoples.  What we can learn from this is that the plaque we carry on our teeth today may be part of our history of tomorrow.

 Just a thought to take with you:  Our office has patients we see from the age of 2 up to 105!  We are accepting new patients, and would love to meet you.

 Your Gentle Dentists,

 Dr. Simmons  947-3163





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     Flossing made headlines a few months ago when the news reported research that showed little evidence that flossing is worth our while!  However, if you dig a little deeper, all of the studies on this were of very short duration, even as short as two weeks!

     We often get asked questions such as to how often should I floss, is flossing necessary, and what teeth should I floss?  The response used by dentists the world over, " you should only floss the teeth you want to keep!"  You see, next to brushing, flossing is the most important thing that you can do to ensure good oral health.

     The purpose of both brushing and flossing is to reduce the number of bacteria which live in our mouth.  Millions of microscopic bacteria feed on the left over food particles on and between our teeth. This bacteria can build up, promoting acid production that erodes our teeth and leads to cavities.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the bacteria also pour out volatile sulfur compounds creating embarrassing bad breath. Flossing helps us get rid of these harmful bugs.

     If you do not floss, and allow plaque (a combination of mucus and debris) to remain in between teeth, it eventually hardens into a substance called tartar.  Tartar cannot be removed by brushing, and can only be removed by your dentist!  Over time dangerous levels of bacteria can build up in tartar producing toxins which irritate and inflame the gums.  This is called gingivitis.  Left untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease – where bacteria and toxins invade not only the gums, but also the bones and structures supporting the teeth.  This can lead to bone loss, loose teeth, and teeth that fall out.  But it doesn’t end there!  From here the bacteria can travel through the body increasing the chances of heart attack or stroke!


So yes flossing is vital to a healthy mouth!


     If you struggle to floss well with a traditional spool, consider trying the pre-strung flossers.  These make it easier to access those hard to reach back teeth!  These are available at most stores and your dental office.

   Remember your smile says so much about you.  Let us help you keep a beautiful and healthy smile.


Your Gentle Dentists,


Dr. Simmons (661) 947-3163




How Will I know If I Have A Cavity?

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How Will I Know If I Have A Cavity?

    This may sound surprising to most people, but the large majority of cavities are completely painless.  This is because the outer enamel has no nerves.  It is only when the cavity enters the underlying dentin that the cavity may begin to feel sensitive.  The most common cavity symptoms are an increased sensation to cold, sweet foods or beverages.  A cavity is often responsible for a broken filling or a tooth cusp, and can easily cause a fracture when biting down.

      Patients are sometimes taken off guard when they learn that they have a few cavities, but they don’t have any symptoms.  It is far better to treat a small cavity than to wait until they have symptoms; such as pain.  By the time there are symptoms, the cavity may have spread to infect the dental pulp, necessitating a root canal procedure or tooth extraction to eliminate the infection.  Always remember that most dental problems are insidious – that is, they sneak up on you.  Regular dental exams, at least twice a year will greatly reduce the likelihood that a dental cavity will go undetected and spread, causing toothache pain and infecting the dental pulp.

      Your general dentist can detect cavities with a combination of an oral exam and x-rays.  Once a cavity is detected it must be cleaned and filled properly. It will not disappear on it’s own!

      The process of cleaning a cavity begins with removing the infected and decayed enamel and dentin.  The remaining defect in the tooth is then sterilized and filled with a material that is bonded to the tooth.  The filling material is designed to imitate the natural tooth, so that it can hold-up to the forces of chewing and occludes properly (making sure your teeth make contact correctly).  But remember, no matter how good the latest technology is (white composite fillings) we can never mimic the natural tooth 100%.  That is why it is so important to prevent cavities from occurring in the first place.

      If you are already a member of our dental family or are new to our practice, we look forward to seeing you soon!  We have “Holiday Specials” available right now.  We are offering $600 off full-case Invisalign Orthodontics, and “Teeth Whitening Specials” for only $89.00!  (No interest and very low down payments are available!). 

    Let us help you keep your Smile Bright Thru the Holiday Season!


Your Gentle Dentists


Dr. Simmons (661) 947-3163

Why Is My Tongue White?

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Why is My Tongue White?


            A White tongue is most often a sign of dehydration or a dry mouth (caused by some prescription medications and autoimmune diseases). The dryness allows bacteria and debris to build up on the tongue instead of being washed away by saliva.  Within a short time it is usually accompanied by bad breath. 

            White spots or patches can occur on the tongue with infection, irritation or chronic inflammation.  Sometimes they can be precancerous so if white patches suddenly appear please schedule an appointment with your dentist to have them assessed.  There is a benign condition called Geographic Tongue where the tongue presents with a white border and irregular red patches.  This is due to a lack of papillae normally present on the tongue.  It is a harmless condition and generally runs in families.

            Causes of tongue irritation can vary from too much rinsing with alcohol mouthwash, using a toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate, rinsing with non diluted hydrogen peroxide and even spicy foods.  Even everyday stress can affect our dental health by making our mouth drier than normal


Tongue Facts:

1.  Taste buds on the tongue vary in length.  About 50% of the population have taste buds so long and dense that their tongues are more prone to hosting the organisms/bacteria that cause dental decay and gum disease.

2.  It is estimated that 90% of bad breath originates from these creatures living on the surface of our tongues!

Tongue Hygiene

     While most of us brush our teeth on a daily basis, we neglect to clean our tongues!  The extra minute this takes can make a big difference in preventing bad breath and returning the tongue to its normal color.

     Using a tongue cleaner will help remove the largest amount of organisms possible from the tongue surface.  It’s not necessary to scrape hard; you do not want to bleed!  You simply need to press hard enough so that the tongue cleaner contacts your tongue flush across the surface, moving from the back of the mouth to the front. 

    Tongue cleaning will not kill the bacteria that are causing the bad breath below the surface of the tongue.  It’s job is to remove the gunky substance.  In order to get rid of the bacteria, you must use an oxygenating toothpaste which can penetrate beneath the tongue surface.  Please call us if you would like a recommendation on which brands to use!

     Brushing your tongue should be part of your daily mouth cleaning.  This small act can improve our breath almost instantly!


Your Gentle Dentists,


Dr. Simmons

(661) 947-3163




Choosing A Toothpaste

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         We are often asked what is the best brand of toothpaste?

       Toothpaste has come a long way since the Egyptians invented it 5,000 years ago (way before the invention of toothbrushes).  Its basic function – to clean the teeth and improve the breath hasn’t changed but, the ingredients fortunately have; crushed eggshells mixed with ground hooves and spices doesn’t sound at all appealing.

 .      Toothpastes today not only clean and freshen the breath they fight decay, harden softened enamel, desensitize teeth, and slow down the buildup of tartar which occurs if plaque is not removed at least every 24 hours.  The tartar builds up and makes teeth and gums even more susceptible to decay and gum disease. This can then create a negative cycle of gingivitis, serious periodontal disease, and in turn possibly heart problems. 

     Two of the most recommended current toothpastes are "Crest Pro-Health and Colgate Total" Both of these contain fluoride and triclosan, a biocide that kills the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. This material remains active between brushings, even after you eat and drink.  These toothpastes are not recommended for children under 6 years old, and because these contain sodium lauryl sulfate, can sometimes irritate sensitive mouths.  For those prone to canker sores or sensitive teeth can,Sensodyne Pronamel, which contains fluoride but not SLS may be a better choice. 

     When it comes to “whitening” toothpastes, dentists are skeptical.  No toothpaste can change the color of your teeth, they can only work to remove stains so that your natural tooth color shows through.

    "Xylitol" is the newest toothpaste ingredient that's attracting attention.  Clinical studies confirm that this natural sugar aids in preventing cavities and gingivitis, and when combined with fluoride is an especially beneficial combination.

     The bottom line is that with so many options to choose from, toothpaste is a personal preference for flavor, thickness and texture.  Any toothpaste that contains fluoride is effective when used often and well enough.  The trick is to find one that encourages you to clean your teeth.  

 Your Gentle Dentists


Dr. Simmons  (661) 947-3163

Oral Bacteria Linked to Pancreatic Cancer

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Oral bacteria linked to pancreatic cancer

      Growing evidence shows that the presence of certain bacteria in the mouth may reveal increased risk for pancreatic cancer, and earlier, more precise treatment.  Pancreatic cancer patients are known to be susceptible to gum disease, cavities, and poor oral health in general, say the study authors. That vulnerability led the research team to search for direct links between the makeup of bacteria driving oral disease and subsequent development of pancreatic cancer.  A disease that is difficult to detect, and kills most patients within six months of diagnosis.  Pancreatic cancer is responsible for 40,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

      According to a recent study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, men with a history of gum (periodontal) disease could be at increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.  The purpose of the study was to determine if gum disease or tooth loss may be related to pancreatic cancer. After adjusting for age, smoking history, diabetes, obesity, diet and other potential contributors to pancreatic cancer, the reviewers found that men with a history of gum disease had a 64 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer than men without a history of gum disease.

     Nobody knows why gum disease may be linked to pancreatic cancer. Although the study showed an association between gum disease and pancreatic cancer, a definite cause and effect relationship was not established. Researchers speculate that chronic infection in the gums triggers inflammation throughout the body, which can potentially promote the growth of cancer.

    Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth.  It attacks just below the gum line, where it causes the attachment of the tooth and it’s supporting tissues to break down.  Periodontal risk factors include tobacco smoking or chewing, diseases such as diabetes, some medications, dental work that no longer fits properly, defective fillings, pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives.

     Except in most cases, the risk of periodontal disease can be controlled with good dental habits:  brushing and flossing your teeth, and regular visits to your dentist.  So, don’t delay, call your dentist today and schedule an appointment for a check-up!  

     Let us help keep your smile and your health at it’s best!


Your Gentle Dentists,


Dr. Simmons

Are E-Cigarettes Safe?

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Are E-Cigarettes Safe 

    Although electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) don’t contain tobacco, they still contain nicotine from the tobacco plant.  They work, using batteries, to produce an aerosol that you inhale or “vape”.  To create the e-liquid, nicotine is extracted from tobacco and mixed with a base (usually propylene glycol), flavorings, colorings, and other chemicals.


    In 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that “e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so consumers currently don’t know the potential risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use, or whether there are any benefits associated with using these products.”  Clinical studies are ongoing to understand e-cigarettes’ impact on health.

******What Parents Should Know******

-  Nicotine can affect brain development in children and teens.

-  Some e-cigarettes have candy flavoring, which could make them appealing to kids.

-  They don't leave a smell like tobacco. So it's harder for parents to know if their kids are vaping.


     The nicotine inside the cartridges is addictive. If you stop using it, you can get withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, depression, restlessness and anxiety.  Vaping can be dangerous for people with heart problems. And it may harm your arteries over time.  E-cigarettes can cause gum recession and other oral health problems even though the nicotine dose is lower than traditional cigarettes.  Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it reduces the amount of blood that can flow through your veins. Without sufficient blood flow, the tissues in the mouth do not get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy.  The result is gingivitis and periodontitis, which can cause bad breath, and inflammation throughout the body.  And as you no doubt remember, inflammation caused by gum disease causes or promotes heart disease, Alzheimer’s and certain cancers.

******Nicotine Intensifies Teeth Grinding******

     Nicotine, being a stimulant,  fires up the facial muscles, making you grind your teeth more intensely if you’re already a grinder.  It may even prompt you to start grinding your teeth, which will eventually wear down your teeth.


If you are going to use e-cigarettes, you must be vigilant about seeing your dentist more often.  Visit your dentist every three months to monitor your gums and teeth for gum disease in order to prevent tooth and bone loss.

Please call us for an appointment for your next dental exam and cleaning.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Your Gentle Dentists,

Dr. Simmons (661) 947-3163






Your Dental Health and Alzheimer's

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     A new study published in the journal "PLOS One" this spring showed that Alzheimer’s patients with gum disease experienced six times faster mental decline than those with healthy gums.

     Gum disease is prevalent in about half the adult population. And lately more and more research has uncovered just how many different kinds of bacteria grow in our mouths – the count now is up to 500 species. Some of the more devastating ones, like P. gingivalis, travel through the blood to other sites – like the brain – and actually stick themselves to our cells, causing inflammation.

     This is something I’ve been saying since I was in medical school back in 1998. This study further supports the idea that many of the worst diseases, like dementia, stem from infection and inflammation. And although we need more research into gum disease and Alzheimer’s, it could be a real factor in brain health.

    So kill these critters before they travel through your body. Brush and floss daily. Do what I do and use baking soda to brush your teeth because of its high pH. This helps neutralize acids (lower pH) in your mouth, removes bacteria, and strengthens tooth enamel.

Your Gentle Dentists,

Dr. Simmons


Gum Recession / Gum Loss

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                                                                 Gum Recession/Gum Loss

       There’s an expression “to be long in the tooth”, which means you are wise due to your advanced years.  But what this really means for your mouth is that you have exposed tooth roots due to the gum receding away from the teeth, whether you’re young or old.

           Gum recession is an incredibly widespread problem that dentists diagnose and treat on a daily basis.  Gingival recession refers to the progressive loss of gum tissue, which can  result in painful tooth root exposure, if left untreated.  Gum recession is most common in adults over the age of 40, but can even begin in the teenage years. 

 Reasons why gum recession can occur:

 * Over-aggressive brushing – Over brushing can be as dangerous to the gums as too little brushing.  Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can erode tooth enamel at the gum line, and irritate and inflame the tissue.

* Whitening toothpastes – Over the counter tooth whitening pastes usually contain abrasives that may contribute to gum recession.

* Inherited predisposition to thin gum tissue.

* Clenching and grinding of teeth

* Nervous habits like chewing on foreign objects or scratching the gums with foreign objects.

* Poor oral hygiene – Not brushing or flossing properly, and the subsequent plaque build up begins to affect the teeth.  The plaque contains various bacteria, which can promote infection and erosion.

* Malpositioned teeth

  • * Chewing tobacco – Any kind of tobacco has devasting effects on the entire mouth.


Symptoms of Recession

* Sensitive teeth

* Visible roots

* Longer-looking teeth

* Bad breath, inflammation, and bleeding

 Tips to prevent gum recession

* Have regular dental cleanings and check-ups.

* Use only ultrasoft toothbrushes.

* Make sure your bite is comfortable, or have your dentist adjust if needed.

* Consider orthodontics to help align your teeth into the proper position.

* Consider a nightguard to reduce stress grinding on your teeth while sleeping.

* Possible gum grafting to increase the amount of gum tissue at the gum line.

 Please call us if you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment.

 Your Gentle Dentists,

Dr. Simmons

(661) 947-3163




The Origin of the Tooth Fairy

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   The Origin of the Tooth fairy!


    The tradition of leaving a tooth under a pillow for the tooth fairy to collect is practiced in various countries around the world.  Tooth disposal has always been a touchy subject.  Back in the Middle Ages, it was believed that witches could gain control over you if they had a piece of you -hair, clothing, or teeth - and thus could work their magic.  In other times, the teeth were thrown into the fire so that the person would not have to search for their baby teeth after they died.  So, as you can see, it was important to properly dispose of teeth.

    Some parents would bury their children's baby teeth in the garden so new adult teeth would grow in strong and straight.  And the Vikings believed that having a child's tooth was good luck in battle, so they would often create jewelry from baby teeth.  The Vikings tradition was called a tooth fee, and the child was paid for their lost teeth.

    The Ratoncito Perez (the mouse) originated in Madrid in 1894.  The tradition is almost universal in Spanish cultures for the child to place his lost tooth under the pillow so that Ratoncito Perez will exchange it for a gift.  Italy's tooth fairy is replaced by a small mouse. 

   In Japan, the custom calls for the lost upper teeth to be thrown straight down to the ground and the lower teeth straight up into the air; the idea being that incoming teeth will grow in straight.


    We see lots of children in our practice starting at age 3.  One of the questions most frequently asked is: 


How Should I Clean My Child’s Teeth?

 * Rub baby's new teeth and gums with a pad of gauze or washcloth after mealtimes. Get your child used to the feeling of clean teeth.

 *  When the first teeth appear, use a toothbrush designed for children, with a small smear of fluoride toothpaste. ***** It’s important to watch your child when they first start brushing their teeth to make sure they do not eat the toothpaste, especially toothpaste containing fluoride.

 *  Children need supervision when brushing their teeth until they are at least seven years old.  It is a good    idea to let them brush first, then follow that up by brushing them once more yourself.

 * Don’t forget to brush gently behind the teeth and onto the gums.

 * Make brushing a routine – in the morning and before bedtime.

 * Remember a child thrives with encouragement and praise.  Set a good example by brushing your teeth at the same time.

 *Diet is very important. Avoid sugars in bottles when your child sleeps. Fruit juice and milk, however healthy, can cause early decay. Stick with water at bedtime.

 *Consider sealants, even for primary teeth if they form deep grooves. Healthy "baby" teeth mean healthier permanent teeth.  (We have a spring special on sealants $10.00 off).  Valid thru June 30, 2016.

 Please call us if you have any questions or concerns we can help you with. We look forward to seeing you.

 Your Gentle Dentists,

  Dr. Simmons

(661) 947-3163