Dr. Judith Y. Ko

Dr. Judith Y. Ko
Hemet Valley Dental Care

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Naturally Whiter Teeth

For most, our smile is what creates the first impression others have of us. Having a bright and white smile  can make all the difference. Some ideas for keeping your smile naturally whiter.

1. Brush and floss. It sounds simple - and it is. Brushing and flossing after eating or drinking will help keep your smile healthy and also whiter. Which brush is the best to use? The one you will use for at least 2 minutes each time you brush. How about floss? Also the one you will use. Not all foods stain, but by brushing and flossing you can keep the ones that do from damaging your pearly whites.

2. Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda is a natural whitener that has been used for years. Mix the two so that you create a fluid that is very thin and runny. Any grit and you may damage the enamel of your teeth. Apply to your teeth with your brush.

3. Strawberries. The latest craze has been to use strawberries to whiten your teeth. To do this, mash up 4-5 strawberries and apply to your teeth. After, rinse well.

You can find more ideas here. For some these ideas are all that are needed to get your smile back to its brightest. For others, a jumpstart may be needed. "While over the counter whitening strips are one way to lighten your smile, to really enhance your smile you may want to consider custom trays that conform to your individual smile," says Dr. Judith Ko. "Bright is beautiful, especially when it's a smile!"

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Am I At Risk For Oral Cancer?

One in four cancers are found in the mouth. While there are factors that increase your chances, in reality anyone, smoker or non-smoker, wine taster or tee-totaler, adult or child can be at risk.

"That's why your dentist and/or dental hygienist does an oral cancer screening each time you come in for a visit," Dr. Judith Ko says from her Hemet, California dental practice. "We know that by early detection we can reduce the other statistic associated with oral cancer - the one that says most oral cancer patients will survive less than five years after diagnosis."

 The oral cancer screening is a relatively easy process. It generally includes your practitioner palpating your face and neck. "They will also have you stick out your tongue, so they can look at it and under it," Dr. Ko adds. Finally, all other soft tissue will be examined. Finally, dental x-rays may be taken to see any defects in the bone that have gone unnoticed.

When oral cancer is found early, the prognosis is many times great. One more reason to see your dentist on a regular basis!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dental Implant or Dental Bridge?

Most often when a patient presents with a missing tooth, one of three recommendations will be made: 1.) Dental Implant,  2.) Dental Bridge, or 3.) Dental Implant and Dental Bridge.

Dental Implants are generally the best option when the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth are intact and have had no fillings or other dental care to restore them to health. When this is the case, the best option will most likely be a dental implant. "Dental implants allow your dentist to replace a single tooth without compromising any additional teeth," says Dr. Judith Ko from her Hemet Valley Dental Practice. "When this option is best, your general dentist will most likely refer you to a specialist who will surgically place the implant," Dr. Ko adds. When the implant is ready, a crown will be placed, restoring the space.

Sometimes a Dental Bridge is the better option. This is the case when the adjacent teeth are already compromised or are decaying. Dental Bridges rely on the adjacent teeth for support and then a pontic, or false tooth, is created to fill the gap.

The third option is generally used when the span of the missing teeth or the location creates a challenge. For example: when the missing tooth is the last one in the mouth or there are several missing teeth in one area.

If you are missing a tooth, check with your dentist to see what are your options.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why Do I Need A Dental Bridge?

When your dentist makes the recommendation to replace a missing tooth with a dental bridge, there are a number of reasons why. Sometimes the missing tooth creates a gap in your smile. Our smile is generally one of the things people notice about us and we all would like to make a great first impression. Or the loss of a tooth might make biting and chewing difficult. Teeth will continue to erupt when the opposing tooth is missing. This can create a function problem and even put the opposing tooth in jeopardy as well as the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. Over time the remaining teeth may also shift and create unusual spaces. All these are great reason to replace your missing tooth.

Once a tooth is lost and the decision is made to replace it, your dentist will have a discussion with you regarding the best option in your unique case. Sometimes the best option to restore the smile and health of your mouth is a dental bridge.

A dental bridge is generally lab fabricated and will be made by utilizing the adjacent teeth and inserting what is called a pontic between the teeth, filling in the gap. "The bridge can replace one or more teeth and be made from a number of materials, but generally it is gold, porcelain or some combination of the two," says Dr. Judith Ko from her Hemet, California Cosmetic and General Dental Practice. When finished, the bridge will be cemented in place and will need normal care - brushing, flossing and routine maintenance with your hygienist - to keep it in tip-top shape.

If you are missing a tooth, call and schedule an appointment today to determine what is the best option for replacement.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Use It Or Lose It!

It's that time of year again. The holidays are around the corner and there is so much to do - including, perhaps, a visit to your dentist.

"Many patients are fortunate to have dental insurance to help them with their dental costs," Dr. Judith Ko says from her Family and Cosmetic Dental Practice in Hemet, California. "What some don't realize is their benefits have an expiration date," she adds.

For PPO dental plans there is a yearly maximum benefit, if that money is not used it does not rollover to be used the following year, it's lost. If you are unsure what type of dental insurance coverage you have, please contact your dental office and they can help.

"At Hemet Valley Dental Care we routinely contact insurance companies on behalf of our patients," Dr. Ko says. "Dental insurance is often confusing and we want to make sure that our patients receive the most from their benefits." Most dental plan maximum benefits run out at the end of the year. That's why it becomes so crazy trying to get in to see your dentist at the last moment.

Now is the time to call to make your appointment. And if you are looking for a new dentist and live in the Hemet area, check out what our patients have to say about us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Holiday Season is Upon Us

Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching. This is the busy time of year for most of us. We thought we'd help by sharing with you a recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake, a sure winner.


Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 14 graham crackers)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 .25-ounce envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 8-ounce bar cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan. Using a straight-sided dry measuring cup, press the mixture into the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Bake until set, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Make the filling: sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup boiling water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin, sour cream, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Mix in the gelatin mixture until incorporated.
  4. Chill: Pour the mixture into the crust and refrigerate, covered, until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What's the Best Way to Whiten My Teeth?

According to WebMD, the best and most inexpensive way to keep your teeth white and bright is to have regular dental visits. Having your teeth cleaned removes the stain that comes from normal eating and drinking. Stains occur when you drink coffee and tea and can even come from eating things like apples. While regular visits to your dentist keeps most smiles at their brightest, some people may need or want additional help.

"If your smile needs a boost, to get it to the shade you desire, there are a couple of methods that work well," says Dr. Judith Ko from her cosmetic dental practice located in Hemet, California. Trays can be formulated specifically for a particular mouth by your dentist. These trays are then filled with a whitening solution. The solutions are different from what you can purchase at your local pharmacy and produce a more dramatic result. The trays and solution can be applied to your teeth at home when it is convenient.

Another method of whitening is completed in the dental office. Many times referred to as 1-hour or in-office whitening, this method utilizes a stronger solution and is monitored by a professional when applied. "Both methods are great for giving you a whiter smile," Dr. Ko says.

With the holiday season fast approaching, wouldn't you like to have a brighter smile?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Type of Filling is Right?

Today there are many options available to repair teeth that are decaying. White fillings, porcelain and gold fillings called inlays and onlays, and crowns. How do you know what is right for you?

"A dentist takes into consideration a number of factors when determining what type of recommendation to make," says Dr. Judith Ko from her Hemet Valley Dental Practice. "We look at the amount of decay that is occurring, but we are also looking at the surrounding teeth." The teeth that oppose or are touched when chewing also make a difference in the type of final restoration that will be best for a patient. Composite or white fillings are great for small areas of decay. The composite material adheres to the tooth and bonds to create a natural appearance that is also very strong. When the tooth has sustained more damage an inlay or onlay may be the best choice for the patient. These are generally manufactured at a lab and provide protection to the biting surface of your tooth. "But sometimes the damage is extensive," Dr. Ko says. "When that is the case, the only solution may be a crown." A crown is a full cover placed after all the decay is removed. To determine what is best for your situation means sitting down with your dentist and exploring the options.

You can learn more about how fillings are done here.