1030 Country Club Drive, Suite F
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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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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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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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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What Makes Teeth Turn Yellow

As you can well imagine, the whitening of yellow teeth is one of the most requested procedures in our Moraga dentist office, and for that matter most dentist offices in America. In most people’s minds, quite rightly, white teeth equals healthy teeth.teethbeforeafter

There’s no doubt, a professionally whitened set of teeth looks stunning. But just think, wouldn’t it be amazing if you didn’t need whitening at all? Of course, everyone is different, and yellowing of teeth can also be genetic, so the following tips don’t apply to all cases (in cases of genetic yellowing, it isn’t necessarily indicative of an unhealthy mouth).

So let’s return to the main question: Why do teeth turn yellow, and what can you do to prevent it from happening to you?

1) Tooth Erosion

Dentin is the layer of the tooth just beneath the enamel. What most people don’t realize? It has a distinct color: yellow.

In the case of tooth erosion, the enamel wears away with time and use. When the enamel becomes thin and worn, the dentin will begin to show through, giving the teeth a yellowish tinge. To minimize the effects of tooth erosion, be careful to avoid foods that are high in acids. Be particularly careful to eschew soda, which has corrosive chemicals that are terribly destructive to your enamel. Unfortunately, erosion of the enamel isn’t reversible, and generally whitening won’t solve the problem fully, either. As a result, many people are forced to employ veneers or crowns to restore the appearance of their teeth.

2) Staining

Stains are a much more obvious cause of teeth yellowing, and thankfully much more easy to address. Most people know why stains on the teeth occur: cigarette, pipe and cigar smoking is of course a notorious cause, along with such regularly consumed beverages as coffee and red wine. Whitening can help with staining, but the best medicine is discipline, and teaching yourself to refrain from these activities.

3) Root Canal

In some cases, a root canal can actually bring on the yellowing of teeth. This is because dental nerves and infected pulp are removed during the procedure, causing the tooth to turn yellow in a few months. In these cases, a crown is often the only solution.

As you can see, whitening is not always the answer, and there are several things that factor into the yellowing of teeth. If you have concerns about tooth discoloration or whitening, make sure to ask us about it at our Moraga dental offices, serving all of Lamorinda. As always, we’ll look forward to seeing you here soon!


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Happy Thanksgiving To All of Our Patients!

There is a chill wind in the air, and everywhere you look the decorations are going up, so it’s official: the holiday season is underway. And this week, we find ourselves getting ready celebrate Thanksgiving once again.

Thanksgiving Dr. Scott Lothamer DDS Moraga DentistThanksgiving is about reflecting on all we are blessed with, and indeed we have plenty to be thankful for: we live in a beautiful community in California, the breadbasket of the country. We’ve been providing comprehensive dental services in Lamorinda for almost eighteen years now, and we’re happy to report that our practice is healthier than ever.

But what we are most grateful for is you: our loyal patients. Without your support, we could never have built such a successful, thriving practice. And we want you to know that we remain as devoted as ever, to each and every one of you. Your oral health is our mission, and our staff dedicates every day to making sure that the care we provide is the very best available in California. We take our jobs seriously, and you can rest assured that when you decide to come to our Moraga dental offices, your trust is well-placed.

Dr. Scott Lothamer and his entire staff would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our patients for your patronage over the years, and to wish you and your families a joyous, peaceful Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy the holiday weekend, and we’ll see you in our offices soon!

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