dental FAQ

The Truth Behind Six Popular Dental Myths

September 7th, 2012

Myths about dentistry and general dental care abound. These myths are passed on by word of mouth and are presented as being factual; although they are typically inaccurate. There are dangers associated with dental misconceptions. By believing in these dental myths, you are placing your oral health at risk and you may not be receiving proper dental care. Find the answers behind many popular dental myths.

Myth: It is not important for young children to care for their baby teeth.

Fact: Although baby teeth are not permanent, long-term problems with permanent teeth can develop if baby teeth are not properly cared for. The malpositioning of permanent teeth, misalignment issues, and early orthodontic treatment are just a few of the concerns related to losing baby teeth too early as a result of tooth decay. It is crucial that children learn the basics of proper oral hygiene at an early age. Doing so will help them form permanent habits that are essential for oral health.

Myth: If you are not having problems with your teeth, seeing a dentist is not necessary.

Fact: Most dental issues are not evident in the early stages. It is only when they have progressed further that you start to notice there is a problem. In most cases, only a dentist can detect when there is a problem. Scheduling an appointment in our office twice a year for regular cleanings and exams is a vital component to your dental health. In this way, dental problems can be treated early before they become a serious concern and require a more advanced form of treatment.

Myth: You should avoid brushing and flossing if your gums are bleeding.

Fact: If your gums are bleeding, it is usually a warning sign of gum disease or gingivitis. You should continue to brush and floss your teeth gently during this time since poor oral hygiene is a primary cause of bleeding gums. If the bleeding worsens or continues to be a problem, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Myth: Chewing sugar-free gum is a good substitute for brushing your teeth.

Fact: Although chewing sugar-free gum offers the benefits of freshening your breath and minor teeth cleaning between meals, it should not be considered a substitute for brushing and flossing. Dental plaque and food particles can only be thoroughly removed by brushing and flossing.

Myth: Cavities are only a concern when you are a child.

Fact: Cavities can develop at any age. There are many situations and conditions that place both adults and elders at risk for the development of cavities. As an adult, you are more prone to developing receding gums, which can quickly result in tooth decay. Many adults and elders also take prescription medications that cause dry mouth. This can cause tooth decay as there is an insufficient amount of saliva within the mouth to wash away bacteria and neutralize acids.

Myth: Once you treat a decayed tooth, it will not become decayed again.

Fact: It is possible for other areas of the tooth to become decayed; although proper brushing and flossing will prevent the treated area of the tooth from becoming decayed again. If a filling gets old and begins to break down, there is a possibility that bacteria can become trapped inside and cause tooth decay.

Sensitive Teeth? Try Changing Your Toothpaste

August 8th, 2012

If you have noticed that your teeth are starting to feel more sensitive than usual, you might initially avoid foods and drinks that seem to cause discomfort. For example, you feel some dental pain when you drink a hot cup of coffee in the morning or while chewing on a cold apple. While it’s a normal reaction to avoid foods or drinks that lead to pain or discomfort, it’s better to determine the cause of the problem and take steps to improve the health and quality of your teeth.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

- If only a single tooth is sensitive, it could be caused by a cavity. In other cases, the tooth might be cracked. These situations require care from a trained dental professional. You may need to get a filling, a new crown, or a root canal to reduce the tooth sensitivity.

- If many or all of your teeth are sensitive, you may have recently begun consuming increasingly larger amounts of foods or drinks that are high in acid. The acid dissolves the protective enamel of your teeth, exposing the dentin. The tooth’s dentin is sensitive to heat and cold as well as sticky or acidic foods that can trigger pain.

- Teeth whitening treatments can also cause tooth sensitivity.

- Increased stress in your life also can indirectly lead to tooth sensitivity. High stress can cause you to grind your teeth while you sleep. If you suffer from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, one treatment option may be a special night guard appliance to wear while you sleep.

- Weather changes are another factor to consider. If it starts getting cold suddenly, the cool air you breathe in may trigger teeth pain, especially when enamel has been eroded from your teeth.

Reducing Tooth Sensitivity

- Avoid consuming foods and drinks that are high in acid. For example, citrus fruits and their juices can wear down your teeth’s enamel over time. Taper down your consumption to minimize teeth erosion. Try using a straw when drinking acidic juices in order to minimize their contact with your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and drinks.

- Start brushing your teeth with the softest available toothbrush. Use gentle motions to brush your teeth to minimize abrading their surfaces.

- You may be interested in switching to a new toothpaste to help you with the discomfort. Select a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. You can find a variety of brands at your local pharmacy or supermarket. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly paying attention to how long you can use the product. If your teeth are still sensitive after using the special toothpaste, you should contact our office so we can rule out a more serious underlying problem.

What is Gingivitis?

August 3rd, 2012

Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease in which only your gums are affected. Gingivitis, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), is a milder and often reversible type of periodontal disease. However, it can lead to periodontitis -- a more destructive and serious disease -- if proper professional treatment and home care aren't put into place. No tissue damage or irreversible bone damage is present in the gingivitis stage of periodontal disease.

Many people with gingivitis won't experience any discomfort, particularly in its early stage. However, as the bacteria in plaque builds up, it can cause your gums to become inflamed, which may make them red and swollen. You may also experience blood when brushing your teeth, indicates the American Academy of Periodontology.

Causes of Gingivitis

The most common cause of gingivitis occurs when plaque builds up due to inadequate oral hygiene.

Other less common causes of gingivitis include:
* diabetes
* aging
* smoking
* improper nutrition
* hormonal fluctuation
* stress
* pregnancy
* substance abuse
* certain medications
* genetic predisposition

Up to 30 percent of people in the United States may be susceptible genetically to gum disease or are six times more prone to developing gum disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Therefore, if one of your family members has gum disease, it may indicate that you have a higher risk of developing the condition as well. If you are one of these people who are more susceptible to developing gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings, check-ups, cleanings, and treatments.

Implications of Gingivitis
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis. In periodontitis, the bone and inside layer of your gum pulls away from your teeth, allowing small pockets to form. These small pockets are danger zones because they allow bacteria to collect, and can they can then become infected. As periodontitis progresses, these pockets deepen, resulting in even more bone loss and gum tissue damage. Eventually, teeth that were once anchored in place become loose. Tooth loss often follows.

Treatment of Gingivitis
In practically all cases, gingivitis can be reversed, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Treatment includes proper control of plaque, which consists of having a professional teeth cleaning, at least two times a year. It also includes daily teeth brushing, which will eliminate plaque from the surfaces of your teeth. You should also floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from in between your teeth.

Lifestyle and health changes may help decrease the risk of developing gingivitis or reduce its severity or progression. These lifestyle changes include stopping smoking, decreasing your stress, eating a well-balanced diet, and avoiding grinding and clenching of your teeth.

Does Oral Health Affect Your Heart?

July 27th, 2012

Brushing your teeth every day keeps them cleaner, improves your breath, and reduces plaque buildup. But did you know that there may be a connection between your dental health and chronic illness? Some scientific evidence suggests that poor dental health may be linked to cardiovascular disease. Although more research is needed to explore this association, it provides yet another reason to brush your teeth twice per day, floss daily, and visit your dentist regularly.

Over 2,400 people die from cardiovascular disease each day, making it an immense public health problem. Cardiovascular disease occurs when arteries become harder, making it more difficult for blood to easily pass through your circulatory system. Plaques also build up in your blood vessels, further restricting blood flow. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects nearly 75% of the U.S. population, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that can cause bone and gum tissue to deteriorate, causing bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and loose teeth.

If periodontal disease affects your teeth and cardiovascular disease affects your heart, what’s the connection between the two? Scientists have known for years that the two conditions share several risk factors. Increasing age, cigarette smoking, and type 2 diabetes increase your risk of developing both periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. None of these risk factors, however, explain the causal mechanism connecting the two conditions.

According to a 2009 review article by the editors of the American Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of Periodontology, one possible explanation is inflammation. Moderate to severe periodontal disease triggers chronic systemic inflammation, affecting not only your mouth but also your circulatory system, leading to cardiovascular disease. Another hypothesis is that bacteria from your mouth can cause heart disease. People with periodontal disease have billions of bacteria and other microorganisms teeming in their mouths. Chewing food and brushing your teeth release these bacteria into the bloodstream. The Harvard Heart Letter reports that the types of bacteria that cause periodontitis have been associated with plaque buildup in your arteries.

Not all scientific findings have shown a relationship between the two conditions. In April 2012, the American Heart Association published a scientific statement in the journal Circulation denying that gum disease causes heart attacks or stroke. The American Dental Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs and the World Heart Federation also endorsed the statement, agreeing that there is no conclusive evidence that the conditions are related. More scientific research needs to be performed to determine the exact relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease.

Although the scientific evidence has been mixed, periodontal disease can be very harmful to your health even if it does not lead to cardiovascular disease. It is important to reduce your risk of gum disease by careful tooth brushing, frequent flossing, and regular trips to the dentist.

If I have braces, do I still need a dental checkup every 6 months?

July 12th, 2012

Thanks for the question! Yes! In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit our office regularly. When you're wearing braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush normally can't reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis and even gum disease. Believe it or not, an estimated 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of gum disease. Studies have shown a correlation between gum disease and heart disease, underscoring the importance of good oral health care. Our team will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while you're undergoing orthodontic treatment.


If it has been more than six months since your last visit to our office, please give us a call! We look forward to your next visit!


Patient question: "What should I expect during my first visit?"

May 9th, 2012


Thanks for the question. Your first visit with Dr. Michael McCarthy and Dr. Cristen Lindal typically includes an x-ray that allows us to view the structure of the jaw, the position of any teeth that have not yet erupted, malformed roots, and tooth decay.

The initial visit also involves getting your medical history. When you share your medical history with us, be sure to provide complete, up-to-date information on your health. Please let us know if you have experienced recent hospitalization or surgery, or if you have recently been ill. Also tell us the names, doses, and frequency of any medications you are taking — whether prescription or over-the-counter products — and the name of your physician. Please also let us know about any changes in your health or medications. This information will us select the most safe and effective method of treatment path for you.

When you’re ready to take the next step in improving the health and beauty of your smile, feel free to contact our Camarillo dental office and schedule a complimentary consultation.

May marks National Teen Self-Esteem Month! From Dr. McCarthy & Dr. Lindal

April 30th, 2012

At Dr. McCarthy & Dr. Lindal's dental office, we know image is everything. May, which is almost here, happens to be National Teen Self-Esteem Month, and during this time, parents are encouraged to act as positive role models, help stop negative self-images, and improve confidence and security among teenagers.

We know one of the great ways to improve your confidence is to improve your smile. And that begins with a visit to our Camarillo office. Has your child visited Dr. McCarthy & Dr. Lindal's office in the past six months for his or her regular check-up? We invite you to give us a call to book your appointment!

See you soon!

“What should I do if my child has a toothache?”

April 20th, 2012


Toothaches occur when the nerve root of a tooth is irritated and can be caused by an infection, gum disease, decay (cavities), or injury. If your child complains of a toothache, rinse his or her mouth with warm water and inspect the teeth to be sure there is nothing caught between them. If pain continues, use a cold compress to ease the pain. Do not apply heat or any kind of aspirin or topical pain reliever directly to the affected area, as this can cause damage to the gums. Children’s pain relievers may be taken orally.

If the toothache persists, it is important to give us a call to determine the cause of the pain and provide relief. Immediate contact should be pursued if your child experiences:

· Pain that is not be relieved by over-the-counter drugs
· Severe pain after a tooth is pulled which may be dry socket syndrome
· Pain associated with swelling of the gums or face, or discharge around a tooth, especially if accompanied by a fever
· Broken or knocked-out teeth from an accident or injury

We hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions below or by giving us a call!

Dr. Lindal & Dr. McCarthy, reminding you about the importance of oral cancer screenings

March 5th, 2012

We hope you're off to a great week! In our continuing efforts to provide the most advanced technology and highest quality care available to our patients, Dr. Michael McCarthy and Dr. Cristen Lindal screen our patients for oral cancer. The fact is, every hour of every day in the U.S., someone dies of oral cancer, which is the sixth-most common diagnosed form of the disease. The five-year survival rate is only 50 percent, and oral cancer is one of the few cancers whose survival rate has not improved.

Early detection of pre-cancerous tissue can minimize or eliminate the potentially disfiguring effects of oral cancer and possibly save your life. Ask Drs. McCarthy or Lindal about a screening at your next appointment at our convenient Camarillo dental office!

Cavities: Not Just Kids’ Stuff, from Dr. McCarthy & Dr. Lindal

February 20th, 2012

Cavities occur as a result of the destruction of tooth structure, called tooth decay. Tooth decay can affect both the enamel (the outer coating of the tooth) and the dentin (the inner layer of the tooth). While it is very important to brush and floss every day to remove food particles and plaque, regular cleanings and checkups at Dr. McCarthy & Dr. Lindal's office is the best way to help avoid cavities.

Dr. McCarthy & Dr. Lindal can discover cavities during your regular dental checkup. The tooth surface feels soft when probed with a dental instrument. X-rays can also show cavities before they become visible to the eye. In advanced stages of tooth decay, you might experience a toothache, especially after consuming sweet, hot, or cold foods or drinks. Other signs of tooth decay are visible pits or holes in the teeth.

Don’t wait for a toothache!

Remember, the longer you wait to treat a cavity, the more extensive your treatment will be. A small cavity can be treated with a filling, while a large cavity that weakens the structure of your tooth may require a crown. If the decay is so bad that it causes the nerve or pulp of the tooth to die, a root canal or tooth removal may be your only options. If you think you may have a cavity, contact our Camarillo dental office and schedule an appointment. We’ll make sure you leave with a healthy, pain-free smile!

Ask Dr. Michael McCarthy, Dr. Cristen Lindal: If I have braces, do I still need a dental checkup every 6 months?

January 23rd, 2012

Thanks for the question! Yes! In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit our office regularly. When you're wearing braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush normally can't reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis and even gum disease. Believe it or not, an estimated 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of gum disease. Studies have shown a correlation between gum disease and heart disease, underscoring the importance of good oral health care. Our staff at the office of Dr. McCarthy and Dr. Lindal will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while you're undergoing orthodontic treatment.

If it has been more than six months since your last visit to our Camarillo office, please give us a call!

Dental FAQs with Dr. McCarthy and Dr. Lindal

August 15th, 2011

A lot of our patients have questions about their dental treatment, whether it's by calling us or asking Dr. Michael McCarthy or Dr. Cristen Lindal during their regular appointment. They span the range of "When should I change my toothbrush?" to "What is a filling?"

So, what we've done is compiled our most frequent questions and answered them one-by-one here on our website. Dr. McCarthy and Dr. Lindal are committed to excellent dentistry and have years of experience creating beautiful smiles and healthy mouths.

Don't see an answer for your specific question? Give us a call or ask us below or on our Facebook page, and we'll be more than happy to provide the answer!