5 Thanksgiving Foods That Are Good for Your Mouth

Aerial view of a Thanksgiving turkey on a silver platter next to water glasses and a green salad

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you’re like us, you’re getting excited about all the delicious things you’re going to eat. At Villa Vista Dental, we want you to enjoy the holiday, but we also want to make sure you watch out for the health of your teeth while doing so. Don’t worry, you don’t need to pass up on all your favorites. You can still eat well and look after your smile this Thanksgiving! Here are five tooth-friendly Thanksgiving dishes:

1. Turkey

Yes, the star of Thanksgiving is actually good for your teeth! Sweet and starchy foods are the biggest culprits to watch out for when it comes to keeping your teeth in great condition, which means protein-filled turkey passes the test. It also contains gum-strengthening B vitamins and enamel-strengthening vitamin D.

2. Sweet Potatoes

Whether roasted or made into a mash, sweet potatoes are a great dish to dig into this Thanksgiving. This root vegetable is full of healthful vitamins and minerals that are good for your dental health, like vitamin A and C and phosphorus.

3. Cheese

Eyeing that cheese plate or dish of macaroni? Go for it! Cheese, like other dairy products, is rich in calcium and phosphorus, which help strengthen teeth. Moreover, cheese also balances your mouth’s pH level, which help combats the formation of cavities.

4. Green Bean Casserole

The vitamin C in green beans and onions together make for a winning combination when it comes to the health of your gums, so feel free to enjoy this classic Thanksgiving dish.

5. Cranberries

Cranberries contain vitamin C and A, along with beta carotene and potassium. But if you’re eating your cranberries in the form of sauce, we recommend you opt for a homemade, rather than store-bought, version so you can limit the amount of sugar inside.

To learn more about which foods are best for your teeth, or which ones you should avoid, contact our Villa Vista Dental team!


Can Protein Shakes Leave Residue on Teeth?

Aerial view of a strawberry protein shake with uncut strawberries clustered around it

Whether used to add muscle, lose weight, get a jolt of energy, or just have a time-saving meal replacement, protein shakes have become increasingly popular among busy consumers due to their convenience. But are there any negative oral health effects to drinking these beverages? Read on to find out!

What’s In Your Protein Shake?

Despite the overall body wellness benefits touted in promotional hype, certain protein shakes and powders loaded with artificial ingredients and sugar have a few drawbacks.

Residue on Your Teeth

A diet high in sugar encourages a film of sticky bacteria, called plaque, to grow on your teeth and along your gum line. Plaque accumulation often makes your teeth feel fuzzy. Moreover, powder-based protein drinks can leave a filmy, gritty residue on your teeth. As one protein shake drinker vividly described it in an online comment: “My teeth feel like they have sweaters on them!”

Watch Out for Questionable Ingredients

Many consumers don’t realize that protein powders and beverages, like other dietary supplements, do not need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although their manufacture and marketing must comply with FDA regulations, their ingredients are not required to be tested for safety before being sold. So knowing exactly what’s in your protein shake and how it will affect your body can require some research.

Choose Sugar-Free & Nutritious Options

Like all prepackaged items you buy for consumption, we recommend always checking the ingredient list of any shakes and supplements. If the number one ingredient is sugar, don’t buy it! Try to go with a sugar-free option made with natural ingredients and enriched with nutrients essential for strong teeth, like calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and vitamin A.

Are You Protecting Your Teeth?

Regardless of the ingredients in your preferred protein shake, follow these tips to help protect your teeth from damage:

Drink Water

It’s always a good idea to drink a glass of water after consuming a protein shake or other protein beverage. Drinking water is critical for both a healthy body and a healthy body. Water and your saliva prevent dry mouth, help clean the surfaces of your teeth, and wash away any lingering residue that could feel filmy, or sugar that could become fuel for bacteria. Otherwise, bacteria will feed on the residue and produce acid that wears away at tooth enamel and puts you at risk for developing gum disease and tooth decay.

Chew Sugar-Free Gum

Additionally, we recommend chewing sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after consuming a meal to further stimulate the production of saliva and help clean your teeth of leftover particles.

Maintain Superb Preventive Oral Care

Protein shake drinker or not, we advise everyone to practice excellent oral hygiene! Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, floss every day, and come visit us for regular dental cleanings and checkups. If you are overdue for your six-month appointment, contact us today.

Our Villa Vista Dental team looks forward to seeing you!


Is Dental Insurance Worth the Cost?

Pink plastic piggy bank for saving money against a darker pink background
If you’re thinking about getting dental insurance, you may wonder if it’s worth it. Here, we’ll explain how dental insurance can be a good value depending on your circumstances.

How Much Does Dental Insurance Cost?

The average American spends about $360 per year on dental insurance. A typical dental insurance plan covers you up to a limit of between $1,000 and $2,000 for the year. This means that after your insurance spends that much on your dental care, you will need to pay any additional charges out of pocket. However, it’s not often the case that you’ll go above your limit, as only between 2-4% of people go above their yearly maximum. Therefore, if you are like most people and just need regular checkups and cleanings, you won’t hit the maximum. On the other hand, if you need more intensive procedures, like root canal therapy or a dental implant, you may reach your limit.

How Much Does Dental Insurance Cover?

An average dental insurance plan uses what is known as 100/80/50 coverage. What this means is that dental insurance will typically cover 100% of the cost of preventive and diagnostic care, such as two checkups and cleanings per year, as well as those routine dental X-rays that you get every year. Dental insurance will also cover about 80% of basic procedures, such as fillings and extractions, while they’ll cover about 50% of your more major procedures, like dentures, dental implants, and dental crowns. These plans are designed to encourage preventive care, which in the long run will save you a lot of money. For example, if you go to the dentist every six months for a cleaning and practice fantastic oral hygiene care in between, chances are good you won’t have to get fillings or root canal therapy. However, if you never visit the dentist, you will probably have poor oral health and will need to spend a lot of money later on a more extensive procedure. In fact, it is projected that a dollar spent on regular cleanings and checkups can save $50 on bigger procedures down the line.

So, Is Dental Insurance Worth the Cost?

It can be, depending on your circumstances. If you are young and have a history of good oral health, it may make sense for you to just pay for your biannual cleanings and checkups without insurance if your insurance plan has high premiums. If you are older and have a history of dental health issues, it will probably be worth it for you to have dental health insurance to cover, or at least partly cover, the cost of your more extensive oral health procedures like dentures or crowns.

If you have more questions about dental insurance, get in touch with our office today!


4 Tips to Help Your Breath Smell Fresh

Brunette woman hides behind a gray curtain with only half her face showing due to embarrassment about her bad breath
Is bad breath bringing you down? Don’t let morning breath and garlic breath ruin your whole day. Here are four tips and tricks to make sure your mouth stays minty fresh!

1. Follow a Routine Oral Care Regimen

Following a strict oral care regimen is essential to not only ensure that your mouth is healthy, but that it smells good, too. Make sure you are brushing twice a day for two minutes each time (don’t forget to brush your tongue!) and flossing at least once a day. Plaque and tartar can release gases that are less than pleasant to smell, so keeping your teeth squeaky clean is a good start to getting your bad breath under control. If you’re noticing particularly serious issues with plaque buildup or if you have persistent bad breath, try chewing sugar-free gum after every meal and decreasing your intake of sugar and processed foods. You may be tempted to brush your teeth immediately after eating, but wait to brush your teeth for 30-60 minutes after eating and drinking anything other than water to allow your enamel time to re-harden from any acids in your meal.

2. Mouthwash Is Your Friend

For those who are experiencing bad-breath issues and even for those who aren’t, adding an alcohol-free antibacterial/antiplaque mouthwash in to your oral care routine is a good way to combat bad breath. Just swish and gargle at least two to three times a week, and you should notice a significant difference.

3. Hydrate with H2O

Did you know that saliva actually helps fight bacteria in your mouth? If you suffer from dry mouth, that could be the cause of your bad breath. When your mouth is dry, the saliva isn’t breaking down that bacteria. Thus, a dry mouth allows yucky oral bacteria to proliferate and produce foul-smelling gasses. Stay hydrated with water throughout the day to keep bad breath at bay.

4. Visit Villa Vista Dental Every 6 Months

Even if you’re already doing all the above, there are just some nooks and crannies you have difficulty reaching yourself. When plaque starts to build up in these spots, those foul gases can rear their nasty heads. But we’re here to help you have a clean mouth and excellent oral health. By visiting us every six months, we can help keep your mouth smelling less like death and a lot more fresh. Contact us to schedule your next appointment!

Don’t let dragon breath set fire to your self-confidence.


What Is a Cavity & How Can I Prevent It?

Closeup of a stack of 3 donuts covered in pink and white icing and sprinkles on a clear wavy plate on a gray counter

What’s one of the first oral issues that comes to mind when you hear that someone needs to make a trip to the dentist? If you guessed that they may have a cavity, you’re right. We always hear about cavities and how horrible they are, but what are they exactly and how can we prevent them? Read on to find out!

What Are Cavities?

A cavity is a small hole that develops in a tooth after the outer protective layer of your tooth, called the enamel, has been weakened by decay. Enamel is weakened by certain types of bad bacteria found in the mouth. This bacteria produces acid as it feasts upon sugars and starches that linger in your mouth after eating. In turn, this acid eats away at your teeth, creating cavities.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Cavities?

The symptoms of a cavity vary. Some people don’t have any symptoms at all! Many people aren’t even aware that they have tooth decay until it is detected by a dental professional. However, if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, you may have a cavity:

  • Toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain when eating or drinking something hot or cold
  • Visible brown or black pits on the teeth
  • White, brown or black staining on the tooth
  • Pain when biting down

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

Some of the easiest ways to prevent cavities are as follows:

  • Make it a habit to brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time with fluoridated toothpaste
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid snacking throughout the day
  • Come in every six months for checkups and cleanings

We Can Help You Have Superb Oral Health!

If left untreated, cavities can spread and cause serious infection and eventual tooth loss. That is why you should come see Dr. Tin at least twice a year to be sure your mouth is free of tooth decay. If you think that you or a loved one may be suffering from tooth decay, please contact our Villa Vista Dental team to schedule an appointment at our Elk Grove dental office today.

Is your mouth cavity-free?


What To Do in a Dental Emergency

Glass of cow's milk to preserve a knocked-out tooth on a concrete curb next to a lawn of grass

A dental emergency doesn’t have to be stressful! From toothaches to chipped or knocked-out teeth to post-surgical complications, we can save your smile if you act quickly.

What Is a Dental Emergency?

If you have profuse bleeding or pain, or have broken or lost a tooth, you should definitely come see Dr. Tin right away. If you’ve recently had an oral procedure, make sure that you are not experiencing any abnormalities that were described to you when going over your aftercare. If you think you need emergency dentistry, trust your instincts. Even if it may end up being a false alarm, neglecting to address an emergency means potentially facing even bigger problems in the future.

How to Prepare for an Emergency

At Villa Vista Dental, we have room in our schedule to see same-day dental emergencies, but not all dental offices offer this. You never know when a dental emergency may arise, so always have Dr. Tin’s contact information handy.

My Dentist

Dr. Ricky Tin at Villa Vista Dental

Office Hours

Mon | Thur | Fri 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tues | Wed 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday By Appointment

Office Phone Number

916-691-6800

Office Address

2471 Elk Grove Boulevard, Suite 190, Elk Grove, CA 95758

What to Do in an Emergency

If you knocked out a tooth, don’t lose it or rub it with any cloth! First, take a deep breath, try to relax, and put the missing tooth in a glass of milk in order to preserve it. Dr. Tin may be able to reattach it if you do! If you have pain and swelling, try doing a salt water rinse to kill bacteria around the affected area and ice your cheeks in 10-minute increments to relieve the pain and reduce swelling.

How to Prevent a Dental Emergency

There are a few simple ways to prevent a dental emergency. Brushing and flossing daily will keep your mouth healthy and decrease your chances of developing gum disease, which can lead to many complications down the line. If you play contact sports, ask about wearing our Under Armour® Athletic Mouthguard to protect your teeth.

If you have a dental emergency, contact us ASAP so we can fit you into the schedule!


6 Things That Cause Teeth to Turn Yellow

Brunette woman wearing a black hoodie covers her mouth with her hands due to embarrassing yellow teeth

Yellow teeth are not just an indication of uncleanliness. In fact, there are quite a few different reasons why your teeth may have lost their brightness. We’ll go over the most common reasons below, as well as how you can brighten up your smile.

    1. Diet

    Your diet affects your entire wellbeing, including the state of your oral health! Americans are accustomed to diets with high amounts of sugar and starch as well as acidic beverages like coffee, soda, and alcohol. Those just happen to among the most harmful things for your teeth! The bacteria that feed on sugar and starch release acid when they break them down, making it much easier for your teeth to stain and develop decay.

    2. Fluoride

    Fluoride is a natural mineral that fights decay. But if you regularly swallowed your toothpaste as a child before your permanent teeth finished erupting from your gums, you may have developed fluorosis, which looks like white streaks or even dark spots on your teeth. Make sure your own children don’t develop fluorosis by supervising their teeth brushing routine!

    3. Smoking

    Smoking causes dry mouth because it suppresses your natural immune response to bacteria, making it easier to develop infections, decay, and discoloration. Once bacteria in your mouth multiply at a fast rate, you’re more likely to experience damage to your enamel and staining.

    4. Medication

    Certain medications like tetracyclines, antibiotics, and oral contraceptives can make it easier for your teeth to turn yellow.

    5. Physical Trauma

    If you grind your teeth, you’re slowly grinding away your enamel, exposing the underlying yellow layer of dentin.

    6. Genetics

    Your tooth color can be genetic! If you’ve noticed that your family members have inexplicably dull or yellow teeth, that may be the reason why you do too. Some people have naturally weak and thin enamel, so the yellow dentin is more noticeable. Moreover, some people’s teeth are more easily affected by dietary or lifestyle changes than others.

Solutions for a Whiter Smile

You don’t have to live with yellow teeth forever, no matter the cause! While you should make any necessary lifestyle to prevent further staining, consider your teeth whitening options as well. At Villa Vista Dental, we offer ZOOM!® one-visit whitening that can brighten your smile up to eight shades in just one hour. Or utilize our custom take-home whitening trays to brighten your smile on your own schedule in the comfort of your own home.

Contact us to schedule a whitening consultation for a brighter, whiter smile!


What Schooling Does a Dentist Need?

Dark-haired woman wears a graduation cap and floral dress, shrugs her shoulders, and wonders about dental education

When you’re at the dentist’s office, laying in the reclined chair with the light overhead and getting ready to get some dental work done, we bet knowing that your dentist went to a good school and has years of training and experience would help you feel a whole lot better about what’s to come. You can rest assured knowing that not everyone can just open up a dental practice and that being a dentist requires years of education and training.

Dental School

Program Accreditation

Folks who want to be dentists have to attend a dental school for four years. Some soon-to-be dentists attend dental school while earning a bachelor’s degree while others attend after completing their undergraduate studies. These programs must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation in order for their students to become licensed dentists.

Student Application & Acceptance

Getting into dental school is no easy feat. In order to be enrolled, one must have a high grade point average, pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT), and nail interviews with school instructors. Once in dental school, prospective dentists work intensely on their coursework in classes and in lab settings. Students in dental school also spend time working in actual dental offices to ensure mastery and readiness for their careers.

Steps After Graduation

Licensure

In order to actually start practicing dentistry, graduates have to get a license, which entails passing written tests and exams. Dental licenses must be obtained from the National Board Dental Examination, and dentists must participate in continuing education to keep their dental license.

Optional Specialization

A dental school graduate can go into general dentistry or pursue a specialized field, such as orthodontics or pediatrics. Specialists must continue their education for an additional 14 months to 6 years in the form of certificates, master’s or doctoral degrees, and residency programs, depending on the field.

We Offer Dental Care of the Highest Quality

At Villa Vista Dental, we hold ourselves to high standards when it comes to education and training. Our dentist, Dr. Ricky Tin, continually pursues advanced postdoctoral coursework, and he has completed over 500 hours of continuing education. We keep up with the latest dental advancements so you will continue to receive the highest level of care possible.

Additional questions about our team’s educational or professional background?


5 Fun Facts About Dental Technology

A structure with a faucet and sink separates two cubicles with dental chairs at a dental office

We know that going to the dentist can be stressful for some people, but we work hard to prove that doesn’t have to be the case. As dental professionals, we love that our job is the business of helping people smile. We came up with a list of some cool facts related to dental technologies to show you the fun side of our profession!

1. Old-School Brushes & Toothpaste

You know that toothbrush that’s sitting in your medicine cabinet? Its modern design was invented in 1938. So what did folks do to clean their teeth back in the day, say around 3,000 BC? An early form of the toothbrush consisted of tree twigs; people would chew the twigs to fan it out and use it to clean their teeth. As far as early toothpaste options, the Ancient Greeks used some interesting ingredients, including pumice, talc, alabaster, coral powder, and iron rust.

2. The Power of Floss

Maybe you dread the dentist asking you the last time you’ve flossed, but the importance of flossing isn’t something new. Dental floss manufacturing dates back to 1882! And if you need more reason to floss consider this: average brushing only cleans about 60% of your tooth surfaces. Flossing is what thoroughly cleans those otherwise hard-to-reach surfaces between teeth.

3. Red or Blue Brush

Whatever the reason may be, people reportedly prefer blue toothbrushes to red toothbrushes. What color is your toothbrush?

4. Invention of Novocaine

You can thank Novocaine for helping make your dental experience pain-free. Unfortunately for people in the past, this local anesthetic wasn’t invented until 1903 thanks to the chemist Alfred Einhorn.

5. Ice Age Filling

Teeth found in Italy dating back to 13,000 BC are the earliest evidence of dental fillings. The teeth had holes that suggested someone had used tiny stone tools to drill out a cavity, and these holes were filled with plant fibers and hairs. Can you say, “Ow?”

If you’re interested in learning more about your dental health and diving into more dental facts, the Villa Vista Dental team would be happy to chat. Feel free to call or email us!

You have questions? We have answers!


Dental Fads to Avoid

woman with wavy brown hair, sitting by window, looking serious

The internet is filled with a whole host of tips and tricks on how to save time and a few dollars. When it comes to your mouth, Dr. Tin wants you to be armed with the facts about dental fads: Not only do the vast majority of them not work, some can even be harmful to your oral health. Read on for a tour into today’s dental fads, arranged here from the controversial (but not necessarily harmful) to the dangerous.

Oil Pulling

Advocates of oil pulling claim that swishing oil (usually coconut oil) in your mouth for a prolonged period of time will strengthen gums, whiten teeth, and fight plaque. The proclaimed benefits of oil pulling go oven further to improved sleep and an overall body detoxification. However, as noted by the American Dental Association, there is a lack of scientific studies showing that oil pulling improves oral health. Snopes, the definitive internet resource for urban legends and misinformation, debunked oil pulling in an extensive article.

Who should use it?

Although swishing oil in your mouth has not been scientifically proven to improve oral health, it’s unlikely to be damaging. Swishing water in the same way, or better yet antibacterial mouthwash, will be just as effective.

Fluoride-Free Toothpaste

The movement towards organic and all-natural everything has reached toothpaste. The main thing that distinguishes natural toothpaste is that it does not have fluoride.

Who should use it?

Fluoride-free toothpaste makes sense for children under the age of two, because most kids that age won’t fully understand how to spit it out and will be tempted to swallow their toothpaste. Ingesting high amounts of fluoride is unsafe and can lead to the development of dental fluorosis.

For everyone else though, fluoride toothpaste is generally the way to go. Fluoride is hugely beneficial because it remineralizes teeth and helps to prevent tooth decay. Topical fluoride in toothpaste is one of the main reasons that dental cavities aren’t as much of a problem as they were before fluoride.

Charcoal Toothpaste

Does it seem counterintuitive that black charcoal would help to whiten your teeth? Although charcoal toothpaste (in its activated form, not the stuff you use on the grill!) is making the rounds as the latest and greatest thing for brightening your pearly whites, there are serious concerns about the abrasiveness of charcoal.

Who should use it?

Steer clear! Using charcoal toothpaste to whiten your teeth can actually cause more harm than good. Once you lose enamel, there’s no getting it back, and enamel erosion can lead to extreme tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and cracks and chips in the enamel.

Brushing your teeth and flossing regularly are great first steps to take toward a brighter smile. Next, biyearly checkups with the team at Villa Vista Dental are also crucial to your oral health. If you’re worried about tooth discoloration, talk to our office about professional teeth whitening options.

Have more questions or want to schedule an appointment?