Friday, September 18, 2015

I Brush and I Floss, but I Still Have Bad Breath!

I Brush and I Floss, but I Still Have Bad Breath!
By Mina Levi, DDS, 09/18/2015

Bad breath is not something that anyone wants to suffer from, but sometimes no matter how often you brush and floss your teeth, your breath is still bad. In this week’s article, San Francisco Dentist Mina Levi, DDS discusses causes of bad breath, what bad breath could mean, and how we can treat it.

Bad Breath Dentist San Francisco

What are some of the causes of bad breath?

1. Food particles in the mouth. The first cause is simple, which is a buildup of old food/drink residue still left on the teeth. If you are brushing and flossing well every day, this shouldn’t be the problem causing the bad breath for you.
2. Bacteria build up on the tongue. While brushing and flossing your teeth is great and definitely necessary to clean the bacteria and food debris from the teeth, sometimes the tongue is ignored and can be a place where bacteria builds up into a film over the tongue and can cause bad breath.
3. Using tobacco. Smoking or chewing tobacco-based products can cause bad breath and stain the teeth.
4. Something’s wrong somewhere else in the body. Bad breath can be a sign that there is something going wrong or needs attention from somewhere else in the body, no matter how clean your mouth is. For instance, diabetes and acid reflux tend to have a specific breath odor associated with them.

What health problems are associated with bad breath?

1. Gum disease. Bad breath could mean that you are in the beginning stages of gum disease. Gum disease is caused by build up of plaque and bacteria in between the teeth and gums. If the gum disease goes untreated, it will advance to periodontitis and can cause tooth loss and jaw bone damage.
2. Dental decay. Decay of the teeth and especially the roots of the teeth can cause bad breath.
3. Dry mouth. Dry mouth is an underproduction of saliva, a necessary substance in the mouth to moisten and neutralize acids. Dry mouth can cause bad breath when dead cells are not washed away and the acids in the mouth build up.
4. Disease. Pneumonia, sinus infections, diabetes, acid reflux and liver or kidney failure all have associated bad breath odors.

What can we do to treat bad breath?
1. Brush your tongue too!
2. Drink lots of water
3. Quit using tobacco products
4. See the dentist and general health practitioner regularly

If you have concerns about your bad breath, visit Dentist San Francisco Mina Levi, DDS on the web at or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Causes of Tooth Stain and Discoloration

Causes of Tooth Stain and Discoloration

By Mina Levi, DDS, 09/11/2015

Almost everyone wants to have a pearly white smile instead of having yellow or brown staining on the teeth. Whitening is a great option for most to whiten the color of the teeth. However, sometimes there is stain on the teeth that needs to be cleaned before the color of the enamel can show through. In this week’s article, San Francisco Dentist Mina Levi, DDS talks about the causes of tooth stain and discoloration and what you can do to keep your teeth white.

 Causes of tooth stain and discoloration san Francisco Dentist

1. Staining food/drink. Dark colored foods and drinks like coffee, cola, wines, fruits, and red sauces stain the teeth. Avoid eating a lot of these foods, or keeping the food/drink in your mouth for an extended period of time. You can also rinse out your mouth and/or brush and floss after eating staining foods to keep staining at bay.

2. Poor hygiene. When you don’t brush and floss regularly, plaque and bacteria build up on the teeth can cause tooth discoloration. Also, without brushing and flossing, staining foods and drinks like coffee stay on the teeth and stain them.

3. Tobacco use. When you smoke cigarettes/cigars or chew tobacco, the substances used to make these products cause the teeth to change color.

4. Medications. Certain medications like antibiotics, especially when given as children, can affect the color of the teeth.

5. Age. As we age, the outer layer of enamel wears down and the darker dentin shows through, causing the teeth to appear darker. For more information about how teeth and oral health change as we age, check out our previous article here: AGING AND ORAL HEALTH.

6. Trauma. Damage to the teeth can cause the teeth to die and change color.

If you have any questions about how teeth get stained or what you can do to avoid staining your teeth, visit Dentist San Francisco Mina Levi, DDS on the web at or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Causes of Tooth Mobility

Causes of Tooth Mobility
By Mina Levi, DDS, 09/04/2015

We’ve all experienced a loose tooth at some point in our lives – usually when our baby teeth came loose to make way for permanent adult teeth to come in. As adults, however, it’s much less common to have tooth mobility. In this week’s article, San Francisco dentist Mina Levi, DDS talks about what causes loose/mobile teeth.

Mobile or Loose Teeth in Adults San Francisco Dentist

·     Gum disease – gum disease is the most common reason for loose or mobile teeth. When bacteria builds up between the gum and the tooth, the attachment of the gum to the tooth slowly loosens and comes apart. When the gum is no longer firmly attached to the tooth, the tooth can become mobile. If the gum disease is not treated, the tooth can eventually fall out or need to be extracted. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

·      Trauma – if you hit your tooth on something in a fall or a physical altercation, it can affect the attachment from the gum to the tooth or from the tooth to the jawbone and cause the tooth to become loose or even fall out.

·      Malocclusion (Bite Interruption/Error) – if the bite of your teeth or the way that the teeth fit together is off or interrupted, the uneven forces can cause the teeth to become mobile. Bite errors can be caused by crowded teeth or by clenching/grinding the teeth at night.

·      Abscess – a gum or tooth abscess will cause the tooth to come loose, and must be treated as soon as possible to reduce risk of an infection getting into the bloodstream and/or eventual loss of the tooth itself.

·      Orthodontic treatment – while undergoing orthodontic treatment to straighten the teeth such as Invisalign clear aligners or traditional braces, the teeth may feel mobile because the attachments are being moved. This should go away once the teeth are set in their final position and have been retained there for some time.

If you have loose or mobile teeth as an adult or are concerned about possible causes of mobile teeth, visit Dentist San Francisco Mina Levi, DDS on the web at or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Can Root Canals Be Re-Treated?

Can Root Canals Be Re-Treated?
By Mina Levi, DDS, 08/28/2015

In a root canal procedure, the roots or nerves of the tooth are removed, so there shouldn’t be any pain coming from that tooth anymore. However, every now and then some patients have residual pain that is immediate, or years after the root canal is performed and they need a second root canal. This isn’t a second root canal so much as it is a re-treatment of a root canal. In this week’s article, San Francisco Dentist Mina Levi, DDS discusses what it means when a root canal needs to be re-treated.

Root Canals San Francisco

What happens during a root canal re-treatment?

The endodontist will re-open the tooth or drill through the placed restoration and remove the filling materials that were placed in the canals of the tooth during the first root canal procedure. Then, the endodontist will look for signs of new infection or additional canals that need to be treated. The endodontist will then remove any infection or clean out the missed canal, clean and reshape them, and place new filling materials. Another crown or restoration will need to be placed on the tooth after the retreatment.

Why would I need a second root canal procedure?

A tooth may not heal as expected after the initial root canal for a number of reasons:
1. Complicated canal anatomy went undetected in the first procedure. Some people have a complicated root system like an extra root that is directly behind another root, so an x-ray may not have shown this in the initial treatment.
2. Narrow canals were not treated during the initial procedure.
3. The restoration (filling or crown) did not prevent saliva from contaminating the inside of the tooth.
4. The placement of the crown was delayed after the endodontic root canal treatment. If you wait more than 30 days after a root canal to have the crown placed, it can cause problems with the initial treatment.

If you have tooth pain or a root canalled tooth that is bothering you and you think you may need re-treatment, visit San Francisco Dentist Mina Levi, DDS on the web at or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Aging and Dental Care

Aging and Dental Care
By Mina Levi, DDS, 08/21/2015

As we age, our dental and oral anatomy changes. The dentin (bone-like tissue under the tooth enamel) changes to a darker, yellower color and the enamel becomes thinner. Because of these changes in the mouth, we need to make changes to the way we care for our teeth. In this week’s article, San Francisco dentist Mina Levi, DDS discusses aging teeth and what we need to do to best take care of our teeth.

Aging and Dental Care San Francisco Dentist 

Changes in the mouth:
1. Teeth will be darker. Teeth darken because the dentin darkens and the enamel covering our teeth thins out, showing more of the darker dentin. Teeth can also darken due to a lifetime of consuming staining food and drink, especially if the teeth are not cleaned professionally on a regular basis. Since the enamel thins as we age, the teeth are less sensitive to the signs and symptoms of teeth decay and so the decay can progress faster without the person knowing it.
2. Drier mouth. As we age, our salivary glands do not produce as much saliva naturally, which causes the dry mouth. Also, we tend to take more medications as we get older, which can also contribute to dry mouth.
3. Gum disease. Gum disease is often a problem for older adults and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the US. Gum disease is caused by plaque and bacteria buildup in between the gums and teeth, use of tobacco, and certain diseases like anemia and diabetes.
4. Root decay. Over time, especially without proper care, the gums can recede away from the teeth, exposing the dentin to acids in the mouth. These areas are extra vulnerable to bacteria and acids because they are not covered by enamel, so when the tooth begins to have a cavity, the decay can eat straight through to the root of the tooth causing infection or causing the root to die. This can lead to needing a root canal or needing the tooth to be extracted.

What do we need to do?

In order to make sure we keep up with the changes in our mouth as we age, it is important to see the dentist regularly at least, if not more often, twice per year for check ups and cleanings. This makes it possible for the dentist to detect any beginnings of decay before it causes a lot of damage and the hygienist can keep bacteria from building up and prevent gum disease. If the gums start to recede from the teeth, the dentist will be able to treat it so that the tooth underneath is protected from decay and sensitivity.

If you have any questions or concerns about the changes in the mouth that occur as we age, visit Dentist San Francisco Mina Levi, DDS on the web at or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Anatomy of the Teeth

The Anatomy of a Tooth
By Mina Levi, DDS, 08/13/2015

We all have teeth or have had teeth at some point in our lives, and it is common knowledge that enamel has something to do with the outside of the teeth and can be whitened. However, do you know the anatomy of a tooth inside and out? In this week’s article, San Francisco dentist Mina Levi, DDS breaks down tooth anatomy.

Tooth numbers: The teeth are numbered from 1-32 starting from the upper right side and ending on the lower right side. Tooth #1, 16, 17 and 32 are the wisdom teeth, and some people may not have those in their mouths.

Tooth numbers anatomy San Francisco dentist

The back three larger teeth (Tooth #1-3, 14-16, 17-19 and 30-32) are called molars. The next two teeth that are a little bit smaller than the molars (Tooth #4-5, 12-13, 20-21, and 28-29) are called premolars. The next tooth that is sharp and is often referred to as a fang tooth (Tooth #6, 11, 22, and 27) is called the canine tooth. The rest of the teeth in the very front (Tooth #7-10 and 23-26) are called incisors, central for the very front (Tooth #8, 9, 24 and 25) and lateral for the ones next to them (Tooth #7, 10, 23 and 26).

Quadrants: The mouth and teeth are broken up into four quadrants, upper right (Tooth #1-8), upper left (Tooth #9-16), lower left (Tooth#17-24) and lower right (Tooth #25-32). Each quadrant has 8 teeth: 3 molars, 2 premolars, 1 canine, and 2 incisors (1 central and 1 lateral).

Tooth anatomy Dentist San Francisco

Crown: The crown of the tooth is the part of the tooth that is visible in the mouth and sits on top of the gums.
Root: The roots of the tooth are below the gum line and are the part of the tooth that is cemented into the jawbone. Depending on what type of tooth, there are a different number of roots. For example, a molar generally has 2-3 roots, a premolar has either 1 or 2 roots, and canines and incisors have 1.
Enamel: the enamel is the hardest, white outer part of the tooth that can be seen in the mouth and is made up of calcium phosphate. The enamel helps protect the inside of the teeth from decay.
Dentin: Dentin is the layer underneath the enamel that makes up the general body/filler material of the tooth and is made up on living cells that secrete a hard mineral substance.
Pulp: Pulp is the softer, inner structure of the teeth that hold the nerves and blood vessels in the tooth that run from the jawbone and out of the root canals.

If you have any questions or are interested in the anatomy of the tooth, visit Dentist San Francisco Mina Levi, DDS on the web at or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How Whitening Toothpastes Can Cause Sensitivity

How Whitening Toothpastes Can Cause Sensitivity
By Mina Levi, DDS, 08/06/2015

Whitening your teeth can be done in the dental office with Zoom whitening or custom take-home whitening trays, or you can use home whitening products such as whitening toothpaste or mouthwash. Although you will be warned of possible sensitivity when you have your teeth whitened at the dental office, the warnings for whitening toothpaste are not so clear sometimes. In this week’s article, San Francisco dentist Mina Levi, DDStalks about how whitening toothpastes can cause sensitivity and why.

Whitening Toothpaste Sensitivity San Francisco

Bleaching products contain peroxides (similar to the hydrogen peroxide you have at home) to help remove deep and surface stains from the teeth. Whitening toothpastes are called dentifrices, which have chemical agents that are designed to remove surface stains through chemical chelation or polishing, rather than via bleaching.

 Some of the abrasive factors found in whitening toothpastes that are great at removing stains also open up pores in the enamel when used for an extended period of time and can cause tooth sensitivity.

To avoid sensitivity when using whitening toothpaste, use a sensitive whitening toothpaste like Sensodyne, or switch from whitening toothpaste to regular toothpaste periodically.

If you are having tooth sensitivity after using whitening toothpaste or have questions about different teeth whitening procedures in the dental office, visit San Francisco dentist Mina Levi, DDS on the web at or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.