Got Jaw Pain? TMJ Awareness Month

Two illustrations of person pressing on the side of their jaw

Cracking, snapping, or grating sounds when you open or close your mouth. Jaw pain. Ringing or aching ears. Difficulty chewing or the jaw joint locking in place. Headaches or migraines. Do you have some or all of these symptoms? If so, you may have a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder—also known as TMD—which can range from mild to severe. For TMJ awareness month, let’s go into more detail about what TMJ disorders are, what causes them, methods of treatment, and how to prevent symptoms from progressing.

What are TMJ Disorders?

The two joints located near the ears on either side of the jaw are known as the TMJ. It is the dysfunction of these small but essential joints that causes TMJ disorders to occur. Unfortunately, women are twice as likely to be affected by TMD as men, and science has yet to determine the reasons why.

TMJ disorders are incredibly common, affecting over 3 million people in the US alone. Even if you don’t have a TMJ disorder yourself, you probably know someone who does, so spreading awareness of the symptoms can benefit everyone.

You may wonder how TMJ disorders start in the first place. The causes aren’t always apparent, but some potential reasons include:

  • Bruxism (a catch-all term for grinding, clenching, and bracing your jaw and teeth)
  • Jaw injury
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Stress
  • Arthritis

Bruxism most often happens during sleep, and people are often unaware that they are doing it. If you sleep with a partner, ask if they have noticed any grinding sounds. You can also look inside your mouth for a scalloped (wavy) pattern on the sides of your tongue—this can indicate bruxism.

Additionally, certain medications can make bruxism start or become worse. Many common mental health medications like antidepressants and antipsychotics can cause bruxism.

Illustration of a man and woman both clutching their jaws in pain

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

If you have a TMJ disorder but it doesn’t cause pain or limit the range of motion in your jaw, it probably does not require treatment. For cases that are more disruptive, it is a good idea to be evaluated by a medical professional to get customized advice or to be recommended to a specialist. They will likely do a physical examination of your face and neck, and they may suggest an x-ray or MRI depending on the results.

Here are a few simple at-home treatments you can try:

  • Exercises to stretch and strengthen the jaw (such as the ones listed here)
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin
  • Cold or hot packs on the jaw
  • Eating soft foods and avoiding chewing on gum and ice
  • Maintaining good posture
  • Once an hour, mindfully unclench your jaw and place the tongue on the top palette of your mouth behind the teeth

For treatments that are a step above home care, you can get a custom night guard made to help mitigate damage and allow the jaw to relax overnight. Dentists and doctors can also prescribe medications in the muscle relaxer, anxiety reduction, or pain management categories.

More medically invasive options for TMJ disorders include:

  • Prolotherapy, in which an irritant solution is injected with the hope of triggering the body to repair the joint;
  • Arthrocentesis, a minor procedure that can help with inflammation;
  • Botox injections, though there is little evidence that these work to effectively treat TMD;
  • Arthroscopy, a procedure where a doctor makes a small incision with a camera in order to view and treat jaw joint dysfunction;
  • and major surgery, including TMJ implants that replace some or all of the jaw joint. This is a last-resort option reserved for only the most severe cases.

If you think you have a TMJ disorder and home treatments aren’t helping, contact our office for an evaluation so we can help you find a solution!

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070

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Scared of the Dentist? How to Cope

As we head into colder, darker days, let’s discuss a topic that might send a chill down your spine: dental anxiety.

If you are petrified of the dentist, you’re in good company. According to the National Library of Medicine, dental anxiety affects approximately 36 percent of the population. These fears cause unpleasant mental and physical symptoms such as panic, sadness, anger, nausea, chills, dizziness, shaking, stomach pain, rapid heartbeat, and sweating.

While dental anxiety can seem irrational, it typically comes from a rational starting place. Personal causes vary, but here are a few common reasons people dread the dentist:

  • Embarrassment. Some people are embarrassed by the condition of their teeth and gums and fear being judged for having poor dental hygiene. Others are embarrassed at the idea of strangers being up close and personal to look inside their mouth.
  • Mental illness. Having a mental illness like anxiety or panic disorder will increase the odds of also having dental fear.
  • Negative or painful past experiences. Bad experiences with dentists, especially in childhood, can lead to panic surrounding future dental visits.
  • Past trauma. Abuse of any kind can lead to dental anxiety.
  • Family history. Do you have a close family member who is afraid of the dentist or who has an anxiety or panic disorder? This can be passed on with genetics or be a learned behavior from childhood.
  • Cost. A lack of dental insurance or money to pay for care can lead to years of delayed treatment. There is also anxiety surrounding the exact cost of the bill.

In some cases, people have such severe dental anxiety that it becomes a phobia. It is estimated that 3 to 5 percent of the population has dentophobia (an extreme fear of the dentist). If your fear of the dentist is intense enough to stop you from going even when you urgently need care, it’s possible you could have dentophobia.

Illustrated woman with eyes closed, a slight smile, and a thought bubble that says, “Keep calm.” Body text says, “Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be a frightening experience.”

Coping Methods

Even if you are part of the third of the population with dental fear, going to the dentist doesn’t have to be a frightening experience! There are an abundance of ways to handle dental anxiety and dentophobia, so there is likely to be at least one method that will work for you.

First and foremost, discuss your fears at the dental office. Making a consultation appointment in advance of any work being done will help you to get to know the dentist better, and you can talk through your specific worries to get a better idea of what to expect during treatment. Most dentists simply want to help patients get the help they need and have seen all kinds of dental problems, and they can work with you to come up with a plan that will minimize triggers and create a calm environment. You can also use the consultation to ask about whether sedation or medication is an option to help during future appointments.

Then, try some of these ideas:

  • See a specialist. Treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acupuncture have shown promise at helping patients manage their dental jitters.
  • Stay distracted. It can help to listen to music or watch a show. If your dental office doesn’t provide entertainment options, bring a tablet or a phone that is pre-loaded with your favorite content.
  • Bring a comfort person or object. If you have a close family member or friend who is willing to help you out, bring them to the appointment to supervise or advocate for your needs. If you have a plush toy, blanket, or other comfort item, it may be useful to bring it so that you can focus on staying calm.
  • Use your imagination. Instead of focusing on the present, let your mind drift off into a less stressful scenario! Fantasize about relaxing on a beach or think about a memory of when you felt safe and comfortable.
  • Treat yourself. Once you make it through the appointment, give yourself a treat. You’ve earned it! This can help build a more positive association with dental visits and provide motivation to go in the first place.

You don’t have to fear the dentist. With planning and patience, your next dental visit can be the best one yet.

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070

September is National Gum Care Month

Text that says September is National Gum Care Month with photo of dentist working on a patient

September is here, which means welcoming the beginning of autumn, cooler weather, and most importantly in dentistry, National Gum Care Month! You probably already know the importance of good oral health, but you may not know how to give your gums the best care or how to identify the signs and symptoms of gum disease.

Know Your Gum Diseases

There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis occurs when plaque builds up and causes gum inflammation and bleeding. Of the two types of gum disease, gingivitis is less severe, and gum disease will start here and progress into periodontitis if left untreated. At the gingivitis stage, it is simple enough to treat and reverse the damage, which is why it is important to keep up with your regular dental cleaning appointments so that your dentist can catch it early.

Periodontitis, the secondary stage of gum disease, happens when tartar accumulates around the gumline and causes the formation of pockets around the teeth. These gum pockets allow bacteria and plaque to spread, destroying the tissues that keep your teeth secure in your mouth. With advanced periodontitis, you can lose your teeth. It’s the number one cause of adult tooth loss, so stopping gum disease in its tracks before it gets to this point is essential!

According to the CDC, gum diseases are more likely to affect certain demographics. The most at-risk groups are men, senior adults, and people living below the federal poverty line or who did not graduate from high school. Women experiencing hormonal changes such as pregnancy—or even simply using the birth control pill—have increased risk as well. Finally, genetics can also play a role. If your family is prone to dental problems, chances are you will be too.

Graphic of surprised woman and list of symptoms of unhealthy gums that is pulled from article

Healthy or Unhealthy?

Look in the mirror—are your gums healthy? Healthy gums should be pink, firm, and not have any bleeding or swelling when you floss or brush your teeth. Unhealthy gums are likely to have some or all of these symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Tenderness
  • Recession along the gumline
  • Gums pulling away from teeth

If you notice any of these worrying signs, make an appointment with your dentist right away.

Preventing Periodontal Woes

By now, you probably know the drill (pun intended) if you’ve been listening to your dentist, but it bears repeating: brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are the most important habits you can have to maintain good oral hygiene! These are especially important if you have a family history of poor dental health.

Curbing some of your bad habits can help prevent gum disease. Smoking or not getting enough nutrients in your diet contribute to gum disease and dental deterioration. Brushing your teeth too aggressively or with a toothbrush with firm bristles can damage gums and cause the appearance of gingivitis. Also, be sure to replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head once every three months so bristles don’t become too worn to scrub off plaque and massage your gums.

Mouthwashes are an optional step, but these can be a good idea if you are genetically prone to gum disease or have higher-risk habits that you are unwilling or unable to give up. They can reduce the plaque that contributes to gum disease and provide bonuses like whitening teeth and/or freshening breath. There are also mouth rinses that help with dry mouth, and dry mouth can also be a factor in gum disease.

Knowledge is power! Now that you are armed with information, you can create healthy habits that last well beyond September and into the rest of your life.

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070

Swim Away from Dental Damage This Summer

Photo of person swimming in a pool wearing a swim cap and goggles, with article title text: swim away from dental damage this summer

Swimming is a good way to beat the heat, but did you know it can have an impact on your dental health? It’s true!

In recent years, it has become clear that there is a link between chlorinated pool water and dental conditions referred to as swimmer’s erosion, swimmer’s calculus, or swimmer’s mouth. When left untreated, these conditions can cause unpleasant effects like enamel loss, tooth sensitivity, transparency around edges of teeth, yellow or brown staining, and tartar buildup. Fortunately, knowledge is power, and we are here to give you details about how you can avoid having chlorinated chompers.

Who Should Be Worried?

Competitive swimmers—defined as people who swim at least two hours each day five days a week—need to be especially mindful of harm caused by pool water. According to a study from the University of Western Australia, children who swim competitively have a significant increase in dental staining as compared to their peers.

On the other hand, if you are only an occasional swimmer, it is unlikely that you need to worry much about the effects on your teeth unless they are already compromised.

People who normally swim in a saltwater pool also have less to worry about. This type of pool still contains chlorine, but not as much as traditional pool water. Aside from being better for your oral health, saltwater pools have the added bonus of being milder for your eyes, skin, and hair.

Everyone, regardless of how much or where they swim, should avoid pools that aren’t regularly tested. Swimmer’s dental conditions will worsen from badly maintained pools with improper chlorine and pH levels.

Graphic of woman swimming with excerpt text from the article

Preventing Damage

So, does this mean that you can no longer enjoy a refreshing swim in the pool if you want healthy teeth? Not at all! Swimming is great for your mind and body, and it’s a fun way to increase exercise during the hot summer months. However, taking a few precautions will reduce the chance of dental erosion and staining caused by pool water. Here are some tips to keep your teeth in great shape:

  • Try to keep your mouth closed while you swim.
  • Brush your teeth before getting in the water so that chemicals don’t stick to plaque.
  • If you own a chlorinated swimming pool, test the water weekly and keep the pH levels between 7.2 and 7.6 to protect enamel while still maintaining the bacteria-killing effects of the chlorine.
  • If using a public pool, there are two main things you can do to check for proper maintenance:
    • Ask questions about the facility’s pool maintenance procedures. If they aren’t testing the water regularly, try to swim in a different pool.
    • Look at structures attached to the pool such as ladders. If they show signs of erosion, chances are good that the water is not maintained properly and will do the same to your teeth.
  • Go for a relaxing dip in the water instead of swimming, and that way you can keep your head out of the water entirely.
  • There is some evidence that chewing xylitol gum three times a day can lower the risk of erosion.
  • If you swim six hours or more a week, tell your dentist and make sure to keep up on your recommended maintenance cleanings so any problems are caught early.
    • One option that the dentist may suggest is a special fluoride treatment for added enamel protection.

Many people are still unaware of the effect swimming can have on teeth, so share this article with a friend to save their smile this summer!

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070

Mouthwash: Friend or Foe?

A blue-green bottle of mouthwash with mint leaves artfully placed around it and the text: Mouthwash: Friend or Foe?

Every dentist will tell you that it is necessary to brush and floss your teeth to maintain your oral health, but what about using mouthwash? Is it an essential part of your dental routine, a neutral addition, or actively harmful? While there isn’t a dental consensus about the necessity of mouthwash, there are certain facts that can help you decide whether it is right for you.

Ingredients Matter

Mouthwashes are not one-size-fits-all, and the ingredients and effects vary. However, according to the ADA, there are two distinct varieties: cosmetic and therapeutic.

Cosmetic mouthwashes are solely used to provide a fresh, clean feeling and to temporarily minimize bad breath for several hours. If you are only looking to use a mouthwash to improve your oral health, these types of mouthwashes are unnecessary.

Therapeutic mouthwashes, on the other hand, have more varied ingredients and can provide a number of benefits including the reduction of bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. They can also whiten teeth and decrease pain.

Here are the most common mouthwash active ingredients to remember and the function of each:

  • Fluoride: strengthens enamel, cavity prevention
  • Chlorhexidine: treats and prevents gingivitis, prevents the buildup of plaque, and lowers the chance of getting dry socket after a tooth extraction (can cause staining)
  • Peroxide: whitens surface of teeth, kills germs
  • Xylitol: dry mouth relief
  • Lidocaine: local anesthetic that provides temporary pain relief
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride: kills bacteria that can cause bad breath

Many of the active ingredients in therapeutic mouthwashes are available over-the-counter at your local drugstore, but those that contain chlorhexidine or lidocaine will require a prescription.

text from blog that says "mouthwash cannot replace your regular brushing and flossing routine" with image of toothbrushes and floss

Can Mouthwash Have Side Effects?

Unfortunately, mouthwash use has the potential for unwanted side effects. Formulations containing alcohol can cause dry mouth or canker sores. Chlorhexidine rinses can stain teeth, especially when used for longer than recommended. Additionally, bacteria-killing ingredients can wipe out the natural oral microbiome that helps to maintain healthy gums and teeth, since they can’t tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. If you must use a bacteria-killing mouthwash, use sparingly or at the instruction of your dentist.

Here are a few additional facts to keep in mind if you are considering adding mouthwash to your dental health routine:

  • Mouthwash cannot replace your regular brushing and flossing routine.
  • Kids under the age of six should not use mouthwash due to the risk of swallowing.
  • Look for rinses that have a higher pH value (more alkaline). If a mouthwash is too acidic, it can erode enamel or cause other unwanted effects.
  • If you have dry mouth, avoid using a rinse that contains alcohol.

At the end of the day, while most over-the-counter mouth rinses have beneficial properties, they can only do so much. Mouthwashes are useful for treating minor oral health issues and provide extra help to people who are prone to dental problems. It is a good idea to consult with your dentist for personalized advice and recommendations that will have the most benefit to your oral health.

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070

Better Hydration for Better Smiles

With the heat of summer on the horizon, many of us will need to drink more water than ever to stay hydrated. How does drinking water affect our teeth? Here are some ways that consuming water not only increases your overall health, but your dental health, too.

No Sugars, No Acids

Water is the best beverage partly because of what it doesn’t contain instead of what it does—that is, sugars and acids! These can erode your enamel over time and cause tooth decay, but drinking water helps cleanse your mouth and remove these substances from your teeth. It can reduce the amount of damage done over time and help keep your smile looking younger.

Decreases Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a common occurrence that can be lessened by drinking enough water. It can lead to uncomfortable side effects like bad breath, sore throat, and difficulty swallowing. It is important to note that increased water intake is not a permanent solution to dry mouth but is a first step toward better oral health. It is a good idea to talk about permanent dry mouth solutions with your dentist at your next appointment.

Fantastic Fluoride

If you are reading this, then the odds are good you live in a town or a city that includes added fluoride in their drinking water! According to the CDC, as of 2016, over 200 million people drink fluoridated water, which has been proven safe over the span of more than 75 years to help reduce cavities. To find out whether you have fluoridated water in your area, you can contact your local water utility provider or check if your state participates in the My Water’s Fluoride program and look up the information on the CDC’s website. If your water does not have added fluoride, speak to your dentist about how you can best supplement fluoride in your routine.

carbonated water

Carbonated Water

For people who prefer fizzy drinks, carbonated water is a popular way to stay hydrated and healthy. But does carbonated water make an ideal substitute for plain water? Mostly, the answer is yes, but there are some differences to keep in mind.

  • Sparkling water is more acidic than regular water, with a lower pH value. However, the good news is that studies have shown that the lowered pH value of plain carbonation is not enough to erode enamel! This can vary slightly depending on the flavor of the water—citrus flavors, because of their naturally occurring citric acid, are more likely to cause mild enamel erosion.
  • As a rule, carbonated waters do not contain added fluoride, nor do most plain bottled waters, so consuming a lot of sparkling water can mean you are not getting enough fluoride to provide cavity protection. This is a good reason to mix up your water intake and include tap water.
  • Some sparkling waters add sweeteners for flavor, and this takes carbonated water from a healthy beverage to one that can increase your risk of cavities.
  • Plain sparkling water or non-citrus, unsweetened flavored sparkling waters are the best for pearly white and healthy teeth, though citrus unsweetened waters are fine in moderation.

As you can see, staying hydrated is full of dental benefits, and is an all-around excellent idea for your health. Keeping up on your water intake can lead to a happier, healthier you!

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070

Aging and Oral Health: Know the Facts

It’s a fact that getting older results in changes to our dental health, so have you ever wondered what you can do to make sure that your teeth withstand the test of time? Is it inevitable that as we age, we will lose teeth and require dentures? Let’s talk about aging and the realities behind senior dental hygiene!

A leading reason for tooth loss amongst seniors is gum disease. What starts as mild gingivitis can advance to a severe gum disease called periodontitis, which can lead to the loss of teeth and irreversible gum damage if left untreated. According to the CDC, “70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease,” which is not a comforting statistic! However, it is a myth that senior adults need to lose their teeth, and with preventative care, there is no reason that gum disease leading to tooth loss cannot be kept in check.

Another age-related oral health occurrence is stained and weakened enamel. Our teeth aren’t immune to showing the signs of aging, and years of eating and drinking will eventually make themselves known on the surface of your teeth. Acids and sugars wear away enamel over time. This, too, can be slowed down significantly through measures such as a balanced diet with less acidic foods and standard oral hygiene.

A few more things to watch out for are decreased nerve sensitivity, dry mouth caused by medications, and gum recession. Decreased nerve sensitivity can lead to an absence of pain, but that does NOT mean that no problem exists–this can mask issues and lead to delays in treatment. Dry mouth can cause gum infections and increase the chances of tooth decay. Gum recession can expose the sensitive root of a tooth and provide a haven for bacteria to accumulate.

Unfortunately, in addition to all of the above, aging and its associated health problems can create physical limitations that make it more difficult to properly maintain oral health. Chronic health conditions can lower morale and lead to mental health issues like depression, which can make daily tasks more likely to fall by the wayside. Lower energy levels can mean prioritizing other health needs instead of oral care. In order to combat these factors, consider ideas like using a water flosser, setting tooth-brushing alarms on a phone or an alarm clock, and using a toothbrush with an extra-large handle.

This may all sound grim, but the good news is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Knowing how to find and treat problems is most of the battle when it comes to dental health. Plus, technology is always advancing, and new treatments will only get better with time. Following the below tips can help make sure your natural teeth will last for a lifetime!

  • Make sure you have adequate calcium intake to support your teeth.
  • To treat dry mouth and prevent enamel loss, stay hydrated and moderate your intake of beverages with alcohol or caffeine.
  • To minimize gum recession, gently brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and speak with your dentist to see what mouthwash may be right for you.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush to be sure you are brushing more thoroughly and for a long enough time.

And, of course, two of the most crucial ways to maintain your overall dental health as you age are also the most obvious:

  • Visit your dentist on schedule, ideally every six months, for routine cleanings
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily

With care, knowledge, and a bit of luck, you can keep your entire mouth feeling healthy and looking fantastic no matter your age!

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April, a month that’s filled with beautiful spring weather, the sun is out longer, which means summer is getting closer. April is also the month to raise awareness of a cause very important to us, and one that could affect us all. It’s Oral Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 54,000 people in the United States will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year. That means, 132 new people will be diagnosed every day here in the U.S. So, let’s take this opportunity together to highlight the importance of early detection and examine why oral cancer screenings are important for everyone’s health.

Signs & Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Did you know that oral cancer refers to any cancer that impacts the lips, tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks or roof, or floor of the mouth? Although it is less talked about than the other common cancers, oral cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in the world. The signs and symptoms are easily overlooked and brushed off as “small problems.” Unfortunately, this makes oral cancer even more deadly as most are diagnosed in the later stages. One of the most common signs of oral cancer includes a lingering sore in the mouth or on the lips. The kind that doesn’t go away or ever fully heal. Other symptoms include:

  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Discoloration inside the mouth (red or white patches of skin)
  • Unusual bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth area
  • Difficulty swallowing and chewing
  • Mouth and/or ear pain

What Causes Oral Cancer in People?

It’s also very important to note that one or more of these symptoms does not mean you have cancer, only that if symptoms are present for more than two weeks, you need to make an appointment to see us, your dentist. Now that we’ve talked about the symptoms of oral cancer, let’s dive into some of the reasons that could cause it to appear. The greatest causes of oral cancer, after tobacco, are:

  • Alcohol use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Excessive sun exposure to the lips

Most people will develop oral cancer from their tobacco use. According to the American Lung Association, cigarettes, the most common form of tobacco, causes 90% of all lung cancer. People who smoke are at 10x higher risk for oral cancer compared to non-smokers. In addition to that, cigarettes contain more than 60 known cancer-causing agents. If you need help to quit smoking, talk to us!

How Safe is Vaping?

By now, we’ve all heard about e-cigarettes, vape pens and vaping. A lot of young people, including under-age teens, prefer getting their nicotine intake from various vape devices. Originally advertised to help regular smokers separate themselves from cigarettes, vaping sounded like the safest option. It’s now proven to not be safe at all, just slightly less detrimental to one’s health than smoking. But is it common knowledge to know what’s inside of them and how it can eventually lead to oral cancer? E-cigarettes/vape pens are portable devices that heat up nicotine (extracted from tobacco). They can include flavorings and often have a myriad of other chemicals to create an aerosol that’s inhaled. In 2020, there was a huge outbreak of lung injuries and deaths that were associated with vaping, which checks out because it was reported in 2020 that an estimated 3.6 million U.S. middle and high school students said they’d used or tried using e-cigarettes. In February 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 2,807 cases of e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury and 68 deaths that were connected to vaping.

The statistics for the next year weren’t any better because according to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2021. With more than 8 in 10 of those using flavored e-cigarettes. Flavor vapes are a prime attraction to try and start regularly using vape pens. Young people and adults find the lack of smoke appealing, with no overpowering smell, e-cigarettes have reduced the stigma of smoking. A lot of people are attracted to the taste of e-cigarette flavors, which also contributes to people incorrectly believing that vaping is a less serious health risk compared to smoking actual cigarettes.

    We should all know by now that cigarettes and secondhand smoke go hand in hand, but a lot of people do not know that secondhand vaping can also affect those who are around to breathe in the smoke. Nonsmokers get exposed to ultrafine particles from secondhand vape aerosol, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease as well. Secondhand vape aerosol can affect anyone, but certain groups have a higher risk. Those groups include infants and children, pregnant people, and people who have lung conditions. Secondhand vaping may seem like it’s no big deal, but the aerosol being exhaled from vaping contain a lot of the same chemicals that have been resulting in serious health problems for people who vape and those around them.

    After realizing how smoking cigarettes and vaping could lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease, the question that lingers is… now what? What can we do? No one wants to live in fear of getting oral cancer or worry about the risk factors so, let’s talk about what we can do to lower our risks:

  • Stop using tobacco or don’t start: If you use tobacco, try to stop now. Using tobacco, whether it’s smoked or chewed, exposes the cells in the mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation: Excessive alcohol use can irritate the cells in our mouths, which will make them vulnerable to oral cancer. Always make sure to drink alcohol in moderation. For healthy adults, that would mean only one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65, and up to two drinks a day for men aged 65 and younger.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure to the lips: Always try to protect the skin on our lips from the sun by staying in the shade as much as possible and using a good amount of sunscreen.
  • See the dentist regularly: As part of a routine dental exam, ask your dentist to inspect your entire mouth for any abnormal areas that may indicate oral cancer or any severe changes.

    Due to low public awareness of the signs, symptoms, and risks, most diagnoses and death from oral cancer is because of late detection. This month is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of patients and survivors, increasing awareness, and providing education to those who have no idea how harmful oral cancer can be if not taken seriously. Oral cancer is a highly preventable disease and it’s also very treatable if caught early. We should all make sure that everyone knows what oral cancer is and how we can better our health to avoid any complications. If you’re smoking cigarettes, or puffing vapes and want to quit, talk to us. We can help, schedule now https://www.sjfamilydentist.com/appointments/

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070

Historical Women in Dentistry

March is filled with so many special days that we often celebrate or engage with. St. Patrick’s Day, daylight savings, the first day of Spring, Pi Day, but did you know that March is also Women’s History Month? Women’s history month is a celebration of the role of women in American history, so let’s dive in together!

HISTORY OF WOMEN’S MONTH

   The origin of women’s history month as a national celebration started in 1981 when Congress passed Public Law 97-28, designating the week beginning of March 7th, 1982, as “Women’s History Week”. Between the years of 1988 – 1994, Congress passed resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to declare March of every year to be known as “Women’s History Month”, and it worked. Since 1995, Presidents have been issuing proclamations declaring March as women’s history month which celebrates the contributions and achievements women have made to the United States.

So, with no further ado, we bring you the trailblazing women of dentistry!

DR. LUCY HOBBS TAYLOR

    Born Lucy Beaman Hobbs on March 14th, 1833, in Constable, New York, in 1859, Hobbs moved to Ohio to pursue a degree in dentistry. She was denied admission at the Eclectic Medical College and the Ohio College of Dentistry in Cincinnati because she was a woman. A recent graduate of one of the schools, Dr. Samuel Wardle, agreed to tutor Hobbs in an apprenticeship at his new office. Later, she opened her own practice in 1861. Hobbs moved her practice to northern Iowa in 1862 and became a member of the Iowa State Dental Society and served as a delegate to the American Dental Association Convention of 1865. Mainly, because Hobbs gained trust through her practice, the school finally changed its attitude towards admitting women. She was finally allowed to enroll as a senior at the Ohio College of Dentistry. This was only the second dental school in the nation at the time. In 1866, she became the first woman to receive a doctorate in dentistry. After a while, she moved her practice once more, this time to Chicago where she married Civil War veteran James Myrtle Taylor. Dr. Hobbs then began to teach him dentistry. Together, they created one of the most successful dental practices in Kansas.

In 1886, her husband died. A year later, she retired and started to devote her time to charity and other social causes especially ones for women’s rights. Today, the American Association of Women Dentists recognizes outstanding women in the dental field with the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Award. Which is one of the most prestigious honors the organization grants. Hobbs was the first woman dentist in the United States to receive her doctorate, paving the way for Emeline Roberts Jones to be the first practicing woman dentist.

EMELINE JONES

   Emeline Jones was born in 1838 with dreams of wanting to become a dentist. At 18, she married a dentist, Dr. Daniel Jones. He was quite reluctant to teach her, as he believed that women were not suited for dentistry because of their “frail and clumsy fingers”. Emeline persisted anyway and started to secretly practice doing fillings and extractions on teeth, and she was successful at it too. In 1855, it was only after she was working on hundreds of teeth and demonstrating her skills in secret that her husband finally took her seriously and allowed her to work on some of his patients. In 1859, she became his partner and became publicly known as a skilled dentist.

After her husband died in 1864, Jones had two small children and herself to support, so she continued her practice alone to support her family by traveling with her portable dentist chair to eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island. In 1876, she moved to New Haven, Connecticut where she established her own successful practice that she maintained until her retirement in 1915. Emeline Jones was nationally recognized as the first woman dentist at the 1893 World’s Columbian Dental Congress and in that same year, she became the 18th dentist to be licensed in Connecticut.

    Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, society, and cultures. Every year, the National Women’s History Alliance chooses a theme for the month and this year’s theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”. This theme works very well because where would we be without dentists? Women dentists? Lucy Hobbs and Emeline Jones provided both healing and hope, and we recognize them for their contributions and achievements this month. Remember oral health impacts your total health. Schedule your spring dental cleaning today!

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070

Matters of the Heart! and Tips to De-Stress

 It’s that of year… love and happiness is in the air! It’s also a month that brings awareness to big topics. February is Children’s Dental Health Month and American Heart Month (AHM). While many of us have kids, we all have hearts, so let’s talk about that. Our heart is the most vital muscle in our body and can become quite vulnerable.

    One main topic that we can focus on during this month is the battle against heart disease. Heart disease doesn’t have a clear definition because there are different forms. It is a range of conditions and disorders that affect the heart. The most common form in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD). This is when arteries that supply the blood to the heart start becoming hardened and narrow due to a buildup of cholesterol, which is also known as plaque. If CAD is not treated, it can lead to major health issues like heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, and an irregular heartbeat.

    Some of the most common risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

    While there are many different forms of heart disease, they all share common symptoms, and the warning signs are all the same. It’s very important that we are aware of these symptoms in case of an emergency or much-needed treatment. Symptoms that we should be aware of include:

  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, cold sweats
  • Pain in the upper body, arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
  • Fatigue
  • An irregular heartbeat or increased heart rate

    Sounds scary, but it’s only scary if we do not take care of ourselves. Either preventing the occurrence, or for many of us, acting as soon as we become aware of the signs. For a lot of people, risk factors can develop because of our environment and family history. For example, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are the two most widespread health concerns that we have in America. Those are the two big factors that will increase the chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease.

    Statistics show that heart disease risks do increase as we get older, which means that our loved ones who are a lot older than us could be more at risk. Starting from an early age, we can try to keep our hearts healthy in a lot of ways. But here we are now! We need to start making changes in our everyday lives. Here are examples of real actions to get us started:  

  • Move Around (exercise): Physical activity is a great way to improve heart health. The American Heart Association recommends that we should exercise for at least 2.5 hours per week to meet the basic requirements. Uncomfortable jogging the neighborhood? Don’t want to go to the gym? Pace your hallway, take extra trips up and down the stairs, you can do this!
  • Quit Vaping (quit smoking): It’s time. There are a lot of benefits to living a smoke-free life, such as reducing the risks of developing certain types of cancers and improvements in circulation. For chronic smokers, you can expect to see an increase in your lung capacity in as little as two weeks!
  • Eat Healthy (whole foods, limit sugar): Limiting ourselves from eating saturated fats, salt, and food that has high cholesterol will do our hearts a big favor. Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is your best bet for keeping your fridge stocked with fresh, healthy ingredients. Pro Tip: frozen veggies are a great time saver!
  • Watch Your Numbers: Get regular check-ups to monitor health conditions that could affect your heart like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • Sleep: Sleep is very beneficial as we all know. Always getting a good night’s rest helps the brain and immune functionality, metabolism, and emotional well-being. Pro Tip: set an alarm… to go to bed.
  • De-Stress: A lot of stress will eventually affect the heart in a negative way, which can result in heart disease. To combat stress, find healthy outlets to relieve it, that will lower the risks of getting heart disease. Some of our favorites include reading, walking the dog, taking a long bath, stretching on the floor while binge watching old TV shows. 

    For the month of February, let’s try to focus more on our hearts, not just for Valentine’s Day but for our overall health. American Heart Month should be used as a reminder for us to take care of our bodies and our health as we age, to reduce the risks of developing heart disease or any other health conditions. It’s never too late to start taking care of our bodies the right way, let’s start today!  

Dr. Steve Trinh
Santa Clara Dental
478 East Santa Clara St., Ste. 103
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: 408-280-7070