My Blog

Posts for: March, 2016

By Richard Ta, DDS
March 26, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral cancer  

Your regular dental checkups should periodically include an important screening for oral cancer, especially as you grow older. Although oral cancers make up less than 3% of all other types, they’re among the most deadly with a 58% survival rate after five years.

Besides hereditary factors, oral cancer is strongly linked to tobacco use, alcohol abuse or diets low in fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s also a greater concern as we age: 90% of new cases of oral cancer occur in people over the age of 40, heightening the need for regular screenings. These screenings become all the more important because many early sores or lesions can mimic other conditions like canker sores — without early detection, the disease could already be in advanced stages when it’s diagnosed.

An oral screening for cancer involves both sight and touch. We’ll first look for any suspicious lesions and red or white patches in the soft tissues of the face, neck, lips and mouth. We’ll then feel for any abnormal lumps on the mouth floor, the sides of the neck and in gland locations. We’ll also examine all sides of the tongue including underneath, as well as the tissues lining the back of your throat.

If we notice anything that’s concerning we may then perform a biopsy by removing a small bit of the suspicious tissue and have it examined microscopically for the presence of cancer cells. We may also remove any lesions deemed pre-cancerous as an added precaution against possible cancer development.

The American Cancer Society recommends an oral cancer screening annually for people forty years or older and every three years for people between the ages of 20 and 39. Even better, we recommend all adults undergo a screening every year. This, along with ending tobacco use and other lifestyle and dietary changes, will greatly improve your chances of remaining free of oral cancer.

If you would like more information on detecting and treating oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”

By Richard Ta, DDS
March 11, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles   braces  

Have you started orthodontic treatment recently? Are you having a little trouble getting used to your braces? If so, you are not alone: Everybody goes through an adjustment period during which they momentarily wonder if they’ll really ever get used to this. Don’t worry — you will! And we’ve never heard anyone say, on the day their braces come off and their new smile is revealed, that they aren’t glad they went the distance. Just ask Houston Rockets all-star center Dwight Howard, who discussed his own orthodontic treatment in a recent interview.

“I’m sure I was no different than anyone else who has ever had braces,” he told Mediaplanet. “At first I hated them so much… That changed once I got used to them and I actually grew to love them.” What’s Howard’s advice? “Do exactly what your orthodontist says and know that the outcome is well worth it in the end.” We couldn’t agree more! Here are some tips for wearing braces comfortably:

  • Hard & Chewy Foods: If you love fresh fruits and vegetables, that’s great; there’s no reason to give them up, just the really hard ones. You don’t want to bite into an apple or carrot or any other hard foods like bagels and pizza that have any “size” to them. Small pieces may be ok as long as they can’t bend your wires. Chewy, sticky candy should really be avoided completely. Same with soda, sports drinks and so-called energy drinks because they contain acids that promote tooth decay and can cause a lot of damage around the braces.
  • Effective Oral Hygiene: Keeping your teeth clean is more important than ever, but also more challenging than ever. It’s easy for food to get stuck under wires and around brackets, but failing to remove it can cause tooth decay, gum irritation and soreness. Therefore, the cleaner your teeth and your braces are, the healthier you will be. Use interdental cleaning brushes and/or a floss-threader to get behind your wires. A mouthrinse can also help strengthen teeth and keep bacteria in check. If you have any questions about how to clean between your teeth, please ask for a demonstration at your next visit.
  • Pain Relief: Some soreness at the beginning of orthodontic treatment is normal. To relieve it, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever and/or a warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw. If brackets or wires are rubbing against the inside of your cheeks or lips, try applying wax to these areas of your braces. If this does not offer enough relief, we may be able to trim the end of a poking wire. Call us if you need help with this.

Our goal is to make your orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible on the way to achieving your all-star smile. If you have questions about adjusting to braces, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Caring for Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment.”

By Richard Ta, DDS
March 02, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Sometimes, imperfections in your smile, no matter how small, can make you feel like your smile has lost its luster. However, there is a dental bondingsimple and effective cosmetic dental procedure to rejuvenate your smile. Having teeth that you love and are proud of could be as simple as asking your Fremont, CA dentist about dental bonding.

What is dental bonding? 
Dental bonding is a cosmetic dental procedure used to fix aesthetic flaws in the teeth. A material called composite resin is molded and bonded to the teeth to correct minor imperfections. Your dentist color-matches the composite resin material to your teeth, providing the most natural appearance possible. This procedure can also be performed alongside other cosmetic dental procedures such as teeth whitening, contouring and dental bridges or crowns.

What can dental bonding repair? 
This flexible and versatile procedure can repair countless imperfections in your smile, including:

  • chipped teeth
  • cracked teeth
  • discolored, yellowed or stained teeth
  • uneven teeth lengths
  • uneven teeth widths

The Procedure
In preparation for the bonding procedure, an etching solution roughens up the teeth to give the composite resin a more effective surface to grasp onto rather than the tooth’s slick enamel. Your dentist shapes the composite resin onto your tooth, molding it to create the desired effect. The resin is usually applied in layers. Once the resin is in its correct shape, a special light pointed at the teeth hardens and sets the bonding materials. When your new tooth is complete, your dentist might shape it further to ensure the optimal results. Finally, your dentist checks your bite to be sure your bonding procedure allows your teeth to fit together normally.

If you plan on whitening your teeth, you should do so before your dental bonding procedure as composite resin does not lighten in color as teeth do. It can, however, be color-matched to the existing color of your teeth. Often, dental bonding is used in conjunction with dental contouring. This procedure further improves the appearance of your teeth and can even cover stubborn stains which do not respond to whitening treatments.

For more information on dental bonding, please contact Dr. Richard Ta, DDS in Fremont, CA. Call (510) 573-3286 to schedule your appointment for dental bonding today!