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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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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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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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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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How to Keep Your Gums Healthy – The Moraga Dentist

It’s a common misconception: as long as you brush your teeth regularly, that is enough to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Unfortunately, though regular brushing is very important, there is more to it than that. Gums are as important as any part of your mouth, and they need to be well cared for. Here are some steps you can take to make sure that your gums always remain pink and healthy:


  • Mouthwashing: This is an absolute must when it comes to ridding the mouth of bacteria, allowing you to cleanse the gums rather than just the teeth. Always be sure to mouthwash after each time you eat, even if it’s only a very small amount. Warm water and salt can also be used as a handy substitute for mouthwash.
  • Brush your teeth and gums thoroughly: It’s important to pay careful attention each time you brush, making sure to systematically remove all bacteria, build-up and plaque in the mouth. Be sure to brush both the inner and outer surfaces of the teeth, and don’t forget about your tongue and gums.
  • Use the right toothbrush: The bristles on your toothbrush can affect the health of your gums, and harder is not always better. Hard bristles can seriously damage gums over years of use. Talk to your Moraga dentist about the right toothbrush for you.
  • Floss every day: Floss at least once each day to remove any build-up between the teeth. This is not a step that you can afford to skip: the bacteria that hides between the teeth can cause major problems with your teeth and gums, including serious periodontal disease.
  • Eat a healthy diet: It might seem obvious, but the things you regularly put in your mouth have a profound effect on your oral health. Eating fresh, nutritious foods on a daily basis and keeping an eye on those that are high in sugars and acids can help you keep your gums healthy for years to come.
  • Visit your dentist regularly: A regular schedule with your Moraga dentist is key, and it should revolve around thorough professional cleanings at least twice each year. By seeing your dentist often, you’ll ensure that most problems are found and corrected long before they can become serious. Call us for your appointment today, and see you in our offices!

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Protect Your Teeth With A Retainer: Your Moraga Dentist

Retainers are familiar to many of us since childhood, but most don’t understand their purpose, or the benefits of using one. In order to encourage faithful, regular use, it’s important to know why you’re wearing your retainer, and how much it can do for your teeth and oral health.

With that in mind, here are a few important facts about retainers from Dr. Scott Lothamer, your local Moraga dentist:

The Benefits of a RetainerRetainers - Dr. Scott Lothamer, Moraga Dentist

When you are fitted with braces, if you’re like most people you will look forward to the day when you finally have them removed. At that point, you will be given a retainer to ensure your teeth stay in the position that they have been gradually coaxed into by your braces. This will stabilize your teeth, and ensure they look their best.

What is a Retainer?

Retainers are therapeutic mouth appliances, custom-made for each patient’s mouth. They consist of a plastic base fitted with metal wires that cover the outside of the teeth, gently restricting them to their new, proper alignment. Often patients whose braces have recently been removed are advised to keep the retainer on day and night, except when eating and brushing teeth. This is typically encouraged for the first six months after the removal of braces, and nightly use is usually unnecessary after that point. Every patient is different however, so be sure to consult with your Moraga dentist before making any changes in your routine.

Even in the absence of braces, a retainer can be prescribed to help patients with minor teeth misalignment. In these cases, the retainer makes braces unnecessary, achieving tooth realignment without the cost and discomfort of being fitted for braces. In either case, always make sure to carefully follow the instructions of your expert Moraga dentist to ensure best results.

Caring For Your Retainer

Remember, it is very important to clean your retainer regularly. After all, it’s going to spend most of its time inside your mouth – so you should maintain it just as carefully as you do your teeth. To keep your mouth clean and healthy, bacteria and plaque that builds up on your retainer must be regularly removed. This can easily be accomplished with a toothbrush and toothpaste, ensuring a clean and disease-free mouth.

To get more information about the use and care of your retainer, talk to your friends here at the Moraga dental offices of Dr. Scott Lothamer – your faithful family dentist. We look forward to seeing you in our offices soon!

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