Dr. Judith Y. Ko

Dr. Judith Y. Ko
Hemet Valley Dental Care

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Is It Time For a New Toothbrush?

Most dentists will agree, it’s time for a new toothbrush if:

1. You’ve had your existing toothbrush for three months or more.

2. If the bristles are bent or splayed out.

3.  If the bristles are coming out.

4. If the bristles are discolored.

5. If deposits have collected at the bristle’s base.

6. If you have completed a course in antibiotics for the flu, a cold or strep throat.

7. If you have had chemotherapy or been under a similar medical stress.

8.  If you routinely store your brush in a closed case.

9.  If you store your brush close to a toilet.

 Keep in mind a worn-out toothbrush will not keep plaque off your teeth and does not massage the gum tissue as is needed for optimal health. “Buying a new toothbrush or a new head for your electric brush is easy,” says Dr. Judith Ko, “And it can produce an immediate and positive effect on your dental health.”

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Re-Considering Dental Implants

Over the years, dental implants have gained in popularity. It’s easy to understand why. A dental implant is placed into bone and, once integrated, will provide stable support for individual teeth or even dentures. But for some they may have been told they were not candidates.

“Years ago, a number of contra-indications kept some patients from having access to dental implants,” says Dr. Judith Ko from her Hemet Valley, California Cosmetic and GeneralDental Practice, “but things have changed since then and perhaps it’s time to discuss dental implants with your dentist again.”

Recently there have been significant changes, not only to the implants themselves, but also in the techniques and designs that allow many patients previously unable to consider implants to enjoy the stability they provide. “If you once had thought about implants only to learn you were not a candidate, perhaps it’s time you revisit the issue with your dentist,” adds Dr. Ko, “You might find that a dental implant could be a possibility.”

For example, not long ago, diabetics were not considered good candidates for implants. Now the consensus is that controlled diabetics can many times find success with implants, as can patients who previously had radiation therapy and those who it was felt did not have enough bone to work with.

One of the best reasons to re-consider dental implants is the success rate of implants. “Dental implants can provide people with improved enjoyment of food, better digestive health and a lovely appearance,” says Dr. Ko. Find out today if you might now be a candidate for a dental implant.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Your Dentist – A Critical Member of Your Health Care Team.

It is often said, “Your mouth is the window into the health of your body.” So why wouldn’t you consider your dentist a critical member of your health care team?

“Dentists are many times the healthcare providers that spot such things as nutritional deficiencies, infections and even systemic diseases. These challenges will show up in mouth as lesions or other oral health problems,” says Dr. Judith Ko from her Hemet,California General and Cosmetic Dental Practice. “Yes, we check for signs of oral cancer, but we don’t stop there. Most dentists routinely will take your blood pressure. We know some patients are much more likely to visit their dentist on a regular basis than see their physician. It’s one more way we show how much we care,” says Dr. Ko.

And many serious diseasesshow up in the mouth first. For example: diabetes. Periodontal disease that cannot be controlled is often an indicator of a more serious issue – so is bad breath that can’t be treated by brushing, flossing and/or mouthwash. Jaw pain may be the first sign of a heart attack and dental x-rays sometimes show early signs of not only bone loss, but also osteoporosis.

“Just more reasons to visit your dentist on a regular basis,” says Dr. Ko.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Five Tips for Dental Patients

For many, the process of finding a dentist is challenging. Here are some tips that hopefully will make the process a little bit easier for you.

1. Don’t be embarrassed. “We see patients with a host of dental difficulties on a regular basis,” says Dr.Judith Ko from her Hemet Valley Dental Practice. “Often patients come in after having spent years out of care after a poor experience. We understand how hard that can be and work to ease any fears you may have.”

2. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth.Most of the time we can tell what is going on in your life by looking in your mouth anyway. Being honest about your home care, general health and diet can help us help get to your challenges quickly and help identify solutions that will help you to move toward better oral health.”

3. As part of your health care team, it is important you share all your health concerns and any medications you are currently taking. This includes any herbals medications or vitamins. Your oral health is a reflection of your general health and poor dental hygiene can affect your stamina and has been linked to many systemic diseases.

4. Feel free to ask questions. Come with questions written down so you do not forget in the moment. “We want to be able to answer them,” says Dr. Ko. “An informed patient is a much healthier one.”

5. Recommendations are just that. “We strive to provide patients with the optimal recommendations, but know patients always have the choice whether to proceed with care or to deny treatment,” adds Dr. Ko.

Dental relationships are built on communication with your dentist and their team members. Don’t delay health because of fear.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dental Hygienists – Your Partners in Health

Dental Hygienists have a wealth of knowledge, gleamed from the specialized training they receive. Not only do they learn how to utilize the specialized tools and equipment you see them with, they also receive additional training in anatomy, nutrition and radiology. Finally, hygienists are trained to assist people with fears and to provide a calming atmosphere to help patients feel comfortable.

“With all that said, it makes sense to use of your dental hygienist as a resource,” says Dr. Judith Ko from her Hemet Valley, California Cosmetic and General Dental Practice.

Hygienists also have information on behaviors that can damage your dental health—smoking, dieting, thumb-sucking, nail biting, drug taking, and eating disorders.

Sometimes patients are embarrassed about starting a conversation about a habit that is embarrassing or causing challenges, but that is exactly what the extensive training your hygienist has received is for. “No one loves to have those conversations,” adds Dr. Ko, “just know your hygienist is there to answer questions without judgment.” In fact, the American Dental Association says patient education isone of the most enjoyable aspects of a career in hygiene. The hygienists at Dr. Ko’s office would agree. “We like it when patients ask questions that will help us to help them.” So ask away. And let your hygienist help you keep smiling.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ten Toothbrush Tips

Toothbrushes and floss are a lot alike, in that the one you should use is the one you feel comfortable using. Here are some tips to keep your pearly whites bright!

1. There are generally two choices in toothbrushes – manual and powered. Both are effective. Powered are sometimes better for younger patients and those with dexterity issues.

2.  Look at the head of the brush to see if it will fit into your mouth and allow you access to clean all areas.

3. Choose a soft bristled brush. “These are easier on tooth structure and gum tissue,” says Dr. Judith Ko, from her CosmeticDental Practice in Hemet, California.

4.  Examine the handle. Find one that allows you to easily grip it in your hand.

5.  Look for the ADA Seal of Approval. “The ADA reviews brushes to ensure that they meet standards for effectiveness and safety,” Dr. Ko says.

6. After brushing, to keep your brush at its best, rinse it with water to remove any residual material or toothpaste.

7. Store your brush upright and allow it to air-dry.

8. Replace your brush ever 3-4 months or more often if you see damage to the bristles.

9. Replace your brush after an illness requiring antibiotics as bacteria can live on the brush to re-infect you.

10. Keep your brush well away from those of others to prevent cross-contamination.

Brush, floss and shine your way into the New Year!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Ins and Outs of Dental Floss

We are told to brush and floss daily, but then we get to the market or pharmacy and we are met with an aisle of different flosses to choose from. Which one is best?

First of all let’s discuss why floss.  When you floss you run a fibrous string between your teeth that cleans away the plaque your toothbrush misses. “It’s a critical component to your daily homecare regimen,” says Dr. Judith Ko from her Hemet Valley California Dental Practice. So flossing daily is important.

While there are numerous floss choices available, the best one is probably based more on personal preference than any other reason. In other words, you may find some flosses are more comfortable or taste better than others.

There are generally two types of flosses available: 1) Multifilament floss (ex: nylon or silk), and 2) Monofilament floss (ex: rubber, plastic or polytetrafluoroethylene).

Nylon floss is the most common floss used – it’s been used around for a long time and tends to be the least costly. This nylon floss can be waxed or un-waxed. The choice between waxed and un-waxed is again about personal preference. Some patients have reported liking the feel of the waxed, while others prefer un-waxed. Dental tape is also made of nylon and is basically a wide, flat ribbon of floss. Many people find, because the ribbon is thinner, that dental tape is easier to use and it is often recommended as a “starter floss.”

Other people like to use the monofilament floss as it seems to glide more easily between teeth. (Often the word glide is used in the name of this floss.) It is a new type of floss and, unlike nylon, doesn’t rip or tear. Monofilament flosses don’t need wax.

Both types of floss come in a variety of flavors as well as thicknesses. The flavor is again about personal preference, but the thickness matters. “Use a floss that goes easily between your teeth and doesn’t snap against the tissue when it goes through,” says Dr. Ko. “Dentists routinely get asked about dental floss,” adds Dr. Ko. “Most patients want to know which one is the best to use. My answer is pretty standard – the one you WILL use daily.” The American Dental Association agrees: “It’s not what type of floss you use, but how and when you use it.” 

So brush, floss and smile!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One More Reason to See Your Dentist

For years the recommendation has been to see your dentist “twice a year.” While dental practitioners have adapted that to “see your dentist at the recommended intervals,” it seems many patients are slow to agree to the more frequent visits.

But here is one more reason. A small study has potentially linked Periodontal Disease, which affects about 64% of adults over 65, with Alzheimer’s Disease. “Links between other systemic diseases have been well reported,” says Dr. Judith Ko from her Hemet Valley Dental Practice. She is referring to links between diabetes, low birth weight babies, respiratory problems, heart disease and pancreatic cancer. “This new information gives patients one more reason to listen to their dentist’s recommendations.”

The study, recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, discussed the findings of researchers who analyzed the brains of ten people with Alzheimer’s and ten without. In 40% of the diseased brain samples, oral bacteria related to gum-disease were found.

“Periodontal Disease can be controlled,” says Dr. Ko, “and it’s not just because you want to keep your teeth. Controlling your disease can also mean keeping your body and mind healthy.” So don’t skip a visit to your dentist.