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Tooth Worms? The History of Cavities and Tooth Fillings

October 11th, 2017

Scientists have discovered tooth decay in specimens that are more than 15,000 years old. The ancients once thought that cavities were caused by something called “tooth worms” … Eew! They didn’t exist, of course, but how else could humans explain the holes that cavities make in teeth?

The appearance of cavities on a widespread basis is often traced to the rise of farming. The new diet filled with grains and carbs made our mouths a haven for cavity-causing bacteria. As we added more sugar to our diets, our teeth got worse.

The “tooth worm” idea didn’t completely disappear until the 1700s when scientists finally began to understand the process of dental caries. Once that part of the puzzle was solved, they began focusing on filling existing cavities and preventing new ones.

Dental Fillings Come of Age

Many different materials, including beeswax, cork, aluminum, tin, and even asbestos, have been used to fill the holes caused by dental decay. Sometime in the mid-1800s, however, dentists began to use metal fillings such as gold, platinum, silver and lead amalgams.

The amalgam we use today is mixed from liquid mercury, silver, tin, copper, zinc, and other metals, but some patients still like the look of a gold filling. Newer options include composite-resin fillings, which are made from a tooth-colored mixture of plastic resin and finely ground glass-like or quartz particles that form a durable and discreet filling. Porcelain or ceramic fillings are natural in color, but more resistant to staining.

Dr. Lapsi can help decide which filling is best for you, based on cost as well as your dental and lifestyle needs. You may not have “tooth worms,” but if you have cavities, contact our Carlsbad, Mission Viejo, or Laguna Hills office so we can take the proper action to protect the health of your mouth.

October is National Dental Hygiene Month: A simple oral health routine for your busy lifestyle

October 4th, 2017

Adults are no strangers to feeling like there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. Your alarm clock rings and within minutes you ping pong around trying to spread peanut butter on sandwiches, answer your cell phone, remove the dog hair from your clothes, and make sure your child has completed his or her science fair project. Brushing your teeth can easily fall to the wayside. That is why our office promotes a simple, daily oral health regimen that you can easily incorporate into your busy lifestyle.

The American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), in partnership with the Wrigley Jr. Company, is celebrating National Dental Hygiene Month (NDHM) during October. The ADHA encourages people to "Brush. Floss. Rinse. Chew...Keep it Clean, Keep it Healthy!" and offers some great tips for a quick and effective home oral health routine, below:

Oral Health Routine at Home

  • Brushing your teeth twice daily is the most important thing you can do to diminish the accumulation of plaque and the potential for other oral problems such as cavities and gingivitis.
  • Flossing once daily removes plaque and food from beneath the gums and between teeth that brushing alone cannot remove. Tooth decay and gum disease often begin in these areas.
  • Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial, non-alcohol based mouthwash kills plaque and gingivitis germs that brushing and flossing do not catch. We recommend using a mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum helps produce saliva, which battles cavities. The gum also neutralizes plaque, strengthens enamel, and removes remaining food. It is especially important to chew gum after eating or drinking.

It's easy to put the toothbrush down in order to take care of matters you feel are more urgent, but remember, a good oral health routine at home is the best way to prevent periodontal disease. "Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. An estimated 75 percent of Americans reportedly have some form of periodontal disease," said the ADHA. Periodontal disease also is linked to more serious illnesses such as diabetes and stroke.

Also, remember to keep regular visits with our office. Dr. Lapsi can help you learn more about proper care for your teeth and gums.

Braces-Friendly Recipe: Dinner

September 27th, 2017

Wearing braces during your treatment at Excel Dental and Orthodontics presents some unique challenges in the types of food you can safely eat. The wrong items can be difficult to remove from between your teeth and the appliance. Other foods may even break or loosen your braces.

Dinner recipe ideas

Lasagna is a great dinner choice because it provides you with several food groups in one easy dish.

  • 1 ½ pounds ground hamburger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 pound diced tomatoes — canned is fine
  • 12 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 package of dry spaghetti sauce mix for seasoning
  • 10 oz. box dry lasagna
  • 3 cups ricotta or cottage cheese or 1 ½ cups each mixed
  • ½-cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound sliced or shredded Mozzarella cheese

Brown and drain your hamburger meat. Dice the garlic and simmer the hamburger, garlic, basil, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and powdered sauce mix for ½ hour.

Cook the lasagna noodles as directed on the package and drain.

Beat the eggs and combine them with your ricotta or cottage cheese.

Layer ½ of the noodles in a 13 x 9 pan. Spread ½ of your cottage cheese mix on top of the noodles, then layer ½ of the mozzarella on top. Finish this layer with ½ of your hamburger mix. Repeat the layering with the other half of your ingredients. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Meats

You can enjoy ribs and chicken wings as long as you cut the meat from the bone before you eat. The same rule applies to turkey legs; do not gnaw on bones, because this can damage your braces.

Vegetables and fruits

You still need to include fruits and vegetables in your daily meals. Skip corn on the bob, whole apples, and raw carrots. Broccoli is soft but particles can become stuck in your braces, so be sure to brush and floss after your meal.

Desserts

Avoid caramel, taffy, and hard candies for dessert. Pudding and ice cream are fine, but low-sugar versions are best.

Remember that your mouth will be sore after adjustments with Dr. Lapsi. Stick to softer foods until the sensitivity is reduced. Please do not hesitate to ask our team for recipe and meal ideas. We will be happy to take the time to explain which foods items are the best choices and why.

If you have any questions about these recipes, or if you have any questions about eating with braces, please give us a call at our Carlsbad, Mission Viejo, or Laguna Hills office!

Oral Health Concerns for Teens

September 20th, 2017

You have a lot more freedom as a teenager than you did as a young child. You also have a lot more responsibilities, and one of your jobs is to take care of your teeth. Develop and maintain good dental habits now so you can have great dental health for life!

Tooth Decay

As a teenager, you risk tooth decay, or dental cavities, if you are not careful. In fact, 59% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 have at least one cavity, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. Lapsi and our staff recommend keeping your teeth strong and healthy by brushing at least twice a day and flossing every day.

If you suspect that you have tooth decay, do not be embarrassed. Instead, ask your parents to bring you to Excel Dental and Orthodontics to get it looked at. When you do not treat your dental cavities, they can turn into more serious problems. A severely damaged tooth may need to be treated with a root canal or even an extraction.

You can take easy steps to prevent tooth decay when you are at school or hanging out with your friends. Carry a bottle of water around with you so you can take a sip after you eat any kind of food. Choose water or milk instead of soda or sports drinks, and if you chew gum, select a sugar-free flavor.

Other Oral Health Concerns

You can probably think of many reasons why you should not smoke or use tobacco. Your oral health is another one. Tobacco gives you bad breath and stains your teeth yellow. It also increases your risk for gum disease and cancer of the mouth. Smoking even slows the speed of healing after you have dental procedures done.

Here are a few more tips that can keep your mouth attractive and healthy during your teen years.

  • Drink plenty of milk.
  • Limit candies and sugary snacks.
  • Wear a mouthguard if you play a contact sport.
  • Visit Excel Dental and Orthodontics twice a year.
  • Reduce infections and avoid piercing your tongue and lips.

You only get one set of permanent teeth in your life, so get in the habit of taking care of them now!

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