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Moraga, CA 94556

Robot Dental Assistants? We’re Not So Sure

Robotics have changed the workplace significantly in recent decades, and it’s a trend that’s expected to continue and intensify. Getting its most visible start in the automotive sector, robotics slowly spread through the manufacturing industries, and there is always a lot of speculation about what sector will be the next to be transformed.

A recent report has some people suggesting the next affected industry may just be dentistry. According to the Centre Daily Times, Dr. Eddie Kotary of Penn State College has become the first general dentist in the world to have a robotic dental assistant in his office. Dubbed “Yomi,” the device is an FDA-approved robot used during dental implantation procedures, the creation of Miami company Neocis.

But keep in mind, the robot doesn’t do the whole job; it actually serves as a guide for a human dentist. That tells me that despite its sophistication, it should be regarded as merely another tool in the dentist’s arsenal. And an expensive tool at that: Dr. Kotary estimates the technology cost him “about as much as a house.”

Once you fully consider these cost constraints, and add to them the buying public’s innate discomfort with robots, the prospects for widespread use of this technology seem to dim. After all, there have been robot hairdressers since at least 2011, and cutting someone’s hair isn’t nearly as complicated–or intimate–as most dental work.

When it comes to dentistry, it seems clear that the human touch is critical. And while the tools will certainly get better as time passes, there’s one thing that isn’t going to change: people are always going to want to be cared for by people. And here at our Moraga dental offices, we’re happy to be here to do just that.

Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you here soon!


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Iceland’s Most Famous Dentist Drills Down At World Cup

As a professional dentist, Heimir Hallgrimsson has taken an unlikely route to fame; this is because he also happens to coach the Icelandic National Soccer Team. And under his leadership, this year the tiny Nordic nation has finally become a contender at the World Cup. And as they say, better late than never.

Just two years ago, Iceland reached the quarter-finals of the European Championship by besting England. And just last summer, they upset Croatia, a long-time nemesis. That makes them the smallest country (pop: 334k) to ever qualify for the World Cup.

But five years ago, things weren’t looking nearly so rosy.

Heimir Hallgrimsson, dentist and Head Coach of the Icelandic National Soccer Team, checks a rear molar

As Assistant Coach under Lars Lagerback at the time, Hallgrimsson suspected that one of the problems with the team was the lack of any discernible fan culture. His solution was novel, to say the least: he invited local fans to meet him at a pub before an upcoming match. The coach shared the starting lineup with them and discussed their chances against their opponents. He even showed them the same motivational video he had produced for the team.

It took a while for it to catch on, and only about a dozen fans showed up the first time. But he kept it up, and now hundreds come out to the meetings; two years ago, Hallgrimsson was promoted to head coach.

The chance that Iceland might reach the quarter-finals this year was considered to be distant, but the coach’s unconventional tactics paid off. The team’s fan base has grown considerably, and he puts it down to his experience dealing with his dental patients.

“You know how it is in the dental chair,” Hallgrimsson said. “You have to approach each client in a different way — you have to adjust to his personality — and it’s the same with football players. You can shout at one but you have to be careful with how you approach another one.”

To see the inspiring New York Times feature, click here.


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Scientists Develop Method For Filling Cavities–Without Drilling

It’s no secret: many people have a serious aversion to the dentist’s office–and the dental drill is probably the chief culprit. I don’t know anyone who has ever admitted to actually liking the drill. But if what we hear coming out of the University of Washington is as promising as it sounds, the sound of the dreaded drill may soon become a little less common.

Researchers there have recently developed a new method that holds the promise to repair tooth cavities without the need for painful fillings–and without drilling. The experimental procedure involves the rebuilding of the tooth’s protective enamel, making use of amino acids called peptides. Preliminary findings show that these peptides can actually create new mineral layers, potentially allowing dentists to help patients repair broken teeth organically.

Published on the ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering website, the research employed models with artificially created dental lesions, to which researchers applied specially designed peptides. The substances were shown to heal the artificial cavities, effectively remineralizing the tooth enamel. Although the technique can only be used for enamel cavities, and not damage to the tooth’s dentine layer, it might mean we’ll soon be looking at a much less invasive way to treat enamel lesions.

Of course, further research will be required to see how the method works with living teeth. But here’s the best part: the researchers think the peptides could even be added to toothpaste to heal teeth–before cavities even form.

We’ll be back with more dental news, so check back again soon!

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Don’t Wait: Parents Aren’t Taking Kids For First Dental Visit Early Enough

Most parents know how important it is for kids to see a pediatrician often. Likewise, they know it’s important for kids to see a dentist regularly. But according to a recent study, many people are waiting too long to bring their kids to the dentist for the first time. It’s no small matter, and can lead to bad things for our kids’ teeth and overall health.

In a survey of 790 parents of children aged zero to 5 years old, parents were asked at what age they felt children should be taken to the dentist for the first time. 48 percent opined that children should start seeing the dentist at roughly 2 or 3. Approximately 17 percent felt kids should wait until around 4 years of age for their first dental visit. Most worryingly, only 35 percent of parents got it right: parents should take kids to the dentist by age 1.

Apparently, a lot of this has to do with where parents are getting their information about proper dental care. The study showed less than 50 percent of the parents surveyed received advice from their pediatrician about their kids’ dental care. Instead, they often tended to draw on personal experience, or rely on the advice of friends and family.

Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend children see the dentist for the first time sometime around their first birthday. There are some parents who follow this advice, but the majority fail to do so. Of course, baby teeth aren’t meant to last forever, but neglect can result in painful and unnecessary problems for toddlers. And good habits need to be formed early, so kids can know what to do once they have developed permanent teeth.

So if you’re a new parent, make your appointment now, and take a proactive step for your child’s health. See you soon!

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D.I.Y. Dentistry: Don’t Even Think About It

As Americans, we are a nation of do-it-yourselfers. And the tighter the economy gets, the more pronounced this tendency becomes. It makes perfect sense, after all. Why pay someone else to change your oil when you can just roll up your sleeves and do it yourself?

Unfortunately, this tendency can go too far. In recent years, we’ve seen an alarming number of cases of people performing ‘self-dentistry.’ And we’re not talking about overflossing here: the pressing need for care has forced patients to attempt to fill cavities, even perform multiple tooth extractions–with often tragic results.

Scott Lothamer DDS moragadental.com

A RAM clinic underway in Southern Virginia.

In a recent interview with the Nation, Caleb (last name withheld) described his decision to forego professional care as a practical one; he doesn’t feel he should have to spend thousands of dollars to have his teeth worked on. But Caleb has paid the price: using a pair of hog-ring pliers, he once crushed a tooth he was attempting to remove, leaving a jagged, painful stump jutting from his jaw. This he resolved with the help of a hammer and chisel.

About a third of Americans struggle to pay for basic dental care. Unfortunately, our system treats the teeth as if they exist separately from the rest of the body (though an infection that begins in the mouth can, and often does, spread quickly through the bloodstream). You can’t go to the emergency room to get your teeth fixed, so dental problems among the poor are typically neglected until they become intolerable. Desperation sets in, and out come the pliers.

If this sounds like a bad idea, it is–very bad. Each year, countless people suffer irreparable damage to their teeth because they take their dental care into their own hands. We can’t be emphatic enough about this: dental work is not the realm of amateurs. Outside of regular brushing and flossing, dental issues should be handled by a trained and licensed professional. The consequences can be sobering: In a case that received a great deal of publicity, a 12-year-old Maryland boy named Deamonte Driver actually died from an infected tooth – a tooth that would have cost $80 to pull.

Likewise, teeth whitening is a procedure that should generally be left to your dentist. Recently, there have been numerous reports of a whitening product being sold online that contains 4 percent hydrogen peroxide, far above the 0.1 percent limit allowed in over-the-counter products. Called Beautiful Cold Light Teeth Whitening Kit, the product, though illegal, is still available on some e-commerce platforms. Concentrations of hydrogen peroxide this high are likely to cause corrosion of the teeth and other ill effects, and should be carefully avoided.

Of course, there are those citizens who can’t get the care they need because of the cost. This is a persistent and difficult problem, but fortunately there are some solutions on the horizon.

Just one example: the nonprofit organization Remote Area Medical (RAM), headed by Stan Brock, runs weekend clinics in medically underserved areas from Texas and California to Florida and New York. Supported by doctors and dentists that volunteer their time, RAM provides basic medical, dental, and vision care—even veterinary services. They do this free of charge, and the response has been overwhelming. They treated over 30,000 people in 2016, and the numbers are only growing. To find out more, visit http://ramusa.org/

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wine grapes extract moragadental.com

The Solution For Healthy Teeth? It May Be Inside A Wine Grape

When it comes to dietary supplements, there are a handful that have become associated with preventive dental health. Calcium, Vitamin D, Omega 3s, CoQ10: today, all of these are championed by nutritionists as natural ways to safeguard your teeth and gums.

Now, according to experts at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry, we have another ally in the war against tooth decay, and it isn’t what you might expect. Turns out, the source is wine grapes–or more specifically, the extract from the seeds of red wine grapes.

According to Ana Bedran-Russo, the extract (a byproduct of the winemaking industry) helps to increase the strength of dentin, the tissue which lies just beneath the tooth’s external enamel. The Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry at UIC, Bedran-Russo is the lead author of a brand new study on the topic.

The implications of the study are highly promising. By improving the health of dentin, grape seed extract has been shown to increase the longevity of composite resin fillings, which typically last only five to seven years. “We want to reinforce the interface, which will make the resin bond better to the dentin,” the professor explains.

Antioxidants And Gum Disease

Similarly, in 2008 French researchers found that grape seed extracts also contain powerful antioxidants which help fight the bacteria responsible for gum disease, including two types of bacteria that lie at the root of periodontal problems: Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum.

Gum disease is pernicious, and the primary cause of tooth loss among adults, so these findings are a welcome addition to our arsenal in this fight. Once again nutrition and prevention emerge as prime factors in oral health, reminding us that good habits always lead to positive results.

Remember to schedule your next checkup or cleaning soon, and we look forward to seeing you in our Moraga dental offices!

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Headed Back To School? See Your Moraga Dentist First

Moraga Dental - moragadental.com Moraga DentistAs families all over California get ready for the upcoming school year, your favorite Moraga dentist has an important reminder: Don’t forget to schedule back to school dental visits for the kids. It’s a busy time every year, but your kids’ dental care is the last thing you want to neglect.

Dental checkups are an important part of making sure that children kick the school year off right. Learning is all about good habits and their reinforcement, and the stakes are high when it comes to our kids dental behaviors. Tooth decay is the #1 chronic disease among young kids, and many people don’t know that good dental health is closely correlated to academic success. Just as importantly, a back-to-school dental checkup is parents’ perfect chance to reinforce good habits like brushing and flossing.

Children with dental health issues can face obstacles at school, and pain can often make it difficult to concentrate on studies. Untreated dental problems can lead to difficulty speaking and eating, and can contribute to self-esteem issues and poor nutrition. To avoid these problems, cultivate a strong relationship with your kids’ dental care provider. After all, we are both working toward the same goal: the overall health and well-being of your kids.

Reinforcing Positive Dental Behaviors

Scheduling routine dental visits and practicing consistent oral care at home are the best ways to ensure the enduring oral health of your children. Of course, many kids have a sweet tooth, but it’s important to remember how seriously that sugar can damage your child’s teeth. As parents, we should moderate our kids’ intake of sugary junk foods, especially things like candy and soda. To keep kids’ teeth healthy between dental visits, practice the 3-2-1 Rule: eat three healthy meals, brush twice, and floss once every day.

Here’s to a great school year! Remember, make sure to schedule your Back to School Checkup if you haven’t yet. We’ll look forward to seeing you in our Moraga dental offices soon!

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Demi Moore’s Tooth Crisis And The Role Of Proper Care

If you happened to be watching Jimmy Fallon’s show the other night, you may have heard a surprising story–one that just happened to concern dental care. Demi Moore was Jimmy’s guest, and the legendary 54-year-old actress looked stunning, as usual.

Demi Moore's Teeth - Dr. Scott Lothamer, DDS

Moore flashes her toothless smile, courtesy of Twitter

But as she soon shared with the TV audience, that isn’t always the case. The actress went on tell Fallon of a recent episode in which she actually lost an entire front tooth after a “bad bite.” And the culprit was one you don’t often hear cited: stress.

How does stress affect the teeth? In more than one way: first, it can seriously impair your immune system, leading to an increased risk of infection in the teeth and gums. It can also lead to increased cortisol levels and inflammation of the gums, as reported by the Journal of Dental Research here. On a more practical level, it also contributes to the neglect of basic dental care routines like brushing, flossing and regular exams, which are crucial to dental health.

Stress is also a contributor to bruxism, or grinding of the teeth. Bruxism can cause serious long-term damage, and is very common. The first sign of chronic bruxism is typically soreness in the jaw muscle, or an earache/headache proximal to the jaw. You also may experience difficulty opening and closing your mouth, and increased sensitivity to hot or cold. If chronic enough, the condition can eventually loosen your teeth so badly that they fall out. No word on whether or not that’s what happened to Miss Moore (but as you can see from the photo below, the wonders of modern dentistry have her choppers looking better than ever).

Dr. Scott Lothamer, DDS - Demi Moore's Teeth

Any questions? Call your dentist.

The lesson: none of us are above the need for consistent and thorough dental care. Be aware that the rigors and stress of daily life can take away from our healthy habits, and remember to always be diligent when it comes to brushing, flossing and maintaining positive, healthy oral habits. As with everything, we succeed with small tasks executed daily. By applying that principle to your dental habits (and seeing your Moraga dentist as often as possible), you will insure your smile for years to come.

Thanks for visiting our blog, and make sure to come back to see us for more helpful info. We look forward to seeing you in our Moraga dental offices soon!

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Do You Have Teeth You Don’t Know About?

When it comes to our teeth, we tend to think we know exactly what we have and don’t have. After all, it’s your mouth, right? The truth is, you might have some extra teeth in your mouth that you’ve never even been aware of.


An example of hyperdontia

Impossible, you say? Actually it’s entirely possible, and there are over 200,000 cases like this in the U.S. every year.

It’s called hyperdontia, and it is defined as the development of extra (or super-numerary) teeth. Typically, these teeth remain hidden below the gumline, but in some cases they’ll emerge, often crowding other teeth. When this happens, a dentist can remove them if necessary. In some cases an orthodontist will be called upon to get them all in line, as it were.

And it gets even stranger than that. Rarely, a person will lose their permanent adult teeth as they age–then have a brand-new set grow in to replace them! This Moraga dentist’s advice: don’t count on it. Take care of the ones you’ve got.

If you happen to be one of the many who suffer from hyperdontia, as we mention above, the problem is absolutely fixable. If you have questions–regardless of how many teeth you have–contact your Moraga dentist for an appointment today. See you soon!

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D.I.Y. Braces: A Bad Idea In Every Case

The science is pretty conclusive: study after study has shown that good dental habits aren’t just good for our teeth: they are good for our health overall. Unfortunately, there are serious obstacles to proper dental care in our country. Dental coverage in many areas is lacking, with many patients having no insurance or access to professional care. Worse yet, kids in impoverished households are reduced to sharing toothbrushes.

In an alarming development, there have recently been increasing reports of people using do-it-yourself methods to straighten their teeth, rather than going to a professional orthodontist. As detailed in a new report in the Chicago Tribune, rubber bands, fishing line and even paper clips are being used by patients at home–and it’s very dangerous.

In a dangerous trend, young people are using rubber bands and other DIY solutions to straighten their teeth

recent survey of orthodontists revealed that almost 13 percent of orthodontists have seen patients who have tried do-it-yourself teeth straightening. And not surprisingly, there are plenty of reports of damage resulting from these attempts. Unfortunately, there have been some who have achieved limited success, and publicized their experiences online.

But just because one person gets away with self-dentistry (and puts it on YouTube, naturally) that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

It’s not: In particular, putting rubber bands on your teeth can cause quick and very permanent damage. In some instances, the bands can actually be absorbed into the guns themselves, leading to sever damage, even permanent tooth loss. This can happen in a matter of weeks or even days, an indication of just how destructive this practice can be,

Parents need to be aware of these risks, and make sure their kids are getting the professional care and attention they need. Bad decision early in life can lead to lifelong dental issues, and taking positive steps now will pay huge dividends later. Call us for that appointment today, and we’ll see you in our Moraga dental offices!

Dr. Scott Lothamer, The Moraga Dentist

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