Dr. Judith Y. Ko

Dr. Judith Y. Ko
Hemet Valley Dental Care

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Will Dental Insurance Pay for My Night Guard?

We don’t always understand it either – and by it, I mean your dental insurance policy.

A night guard or occlusal guard is a custom-made appliance that your dentist may recommend when it appears that severe wear due to bruxing and grinding is occurring. While the cost of a night guard is generally ¼ to ½ the fee for a single crown, insurance plans rarely will cover the cost.

“This makes no sense,” says Natalie, the financial coordinator at Hemet Valley Dental Care, your dental office in Hemet California. “We know that by providing patients with night guards we are saving them and the insurance companies money. Teeth that are broken many times have occurred due to bruxing and clenching. The fact that we can reduce the number of broken teeth by the wearing of a simple appliance means savings.”

“The only time we sometimes see insurance companies pay for night guards is when the clenching and bruxing has now impacted the tooth’s stability – this means the periodontal ligament is now impacted.”

While it would be nice if dental insurance companies paid for custom night guards, know that as a patient you will still be ahead of the financial game if you pay in full for your appliance.

“One less crowned tooth more than covers the cost,” adds Natalie. “And it also means better dentistry for you, the patient.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cost of a Dental Night Guard

For many, their first crown comes due to a broken tooth. “And too often, the cause of the breakage is bruxing and grinding,” says Dr. Judith Ko of Hemet Valley Dental Care.

“One of the results of nighttime clenching and grinding is broken teeth, and one of the best ways to avoid breaking and fracturing teeth is to wear a night guard or splint,” adds Dr. Ko.

Not only will an occlusal night guard help with your bruxing and grinding but it also saves you money.

In general, a night guard will cost somewhere between ¼ and ½ of a single crown. “Not only that, but teeth that are damaged and in need of a crown often also suffer from nerve damage that could result in the recommendation of root canal treatment,” says Dr. Ko.

So why wait? If you think you are someone who grinds or clenches their teeth, or if you’ve been told by a spouse that you grind at night, don’t delay. Call today and learn more.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Clenching – How Can You Tell If You Are Guilty?

Most people at some point in their lives will probably clench or even grind their teeth. Occasionally clenching or grinding will usually not cause significant long-term damage, but repeated acts will.

Generally clenching and grinding occurs when a person is under stress or is anxious, has bite issues or missing or crooked teeth. Unfortunately, clenching and grinding often happens during sleep and so you may not be aware you are even doing it unless a partner informs you, or you wake with face or joint pain.

“Sometimes the issue first presents itself as a broken tooth or filling. Chronic grinding damages teeth,” says Dr. Judith Ko, your Inland Empire’s Top Dentist in Hemet, California. “You may even see the results when you brush and notice the wear on the surfaces of your teeth.”

While there are a few things you can do to reduce the discomfort – apply ice to the joint, learn relaxation techniques and avoiding foods and drinks that contain caffeine, the best solution is often a night guard.

“Night guards are custom fit appliances that will allow your jaw to move freely without damaging teeth or joints,” adds Dr. Ko. Your general dentist is the person to ask if you may be a candidate for an appliance to help with your clenching. Call us today to learn more about how you can be fit with a night guard to protect your teeth and joints.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Difference Does a Correct Bite Make?

Bruxism – the clenching of teeth, and grinding – the side-to-side motion can damage otherwise healthy teeth. Estimates of people affected range from 8-30% of the population. For many the symptoms are mild and they may be unaware they even have the condition, but for others the pain and discomfort are severe enough to cause facial and jaw joint pain.

Occlusion or the way your teeth fit together for eating and chewing can sometimes be thought to be the culprit.

Bruxism isn’t the only challenge that can occur when a bite issue is present. “When teeth do not fit together properly, chewing and eating foods can become an issue,” reports Dr. Judith Ko of Hemet, California. “Often patients have no idea that their bite may be why they often choke on their favorite foods. I once had a woman who informed me after having done extensive dental work, that she could now eat without fear.”
When occlusion is wrong a number of other problems may also present themselves including:

1. crooked teeth
2. gum problems
3. jaw joint problems
4. broken fillings
5. broken teeth
6. broken crowns

Occlusion problems can also cause migraines, headaches, facial pain, and even pain in the neck, upper back or shoulders.

“No one should live with discomfort due to an occlusion issue,” adds Dr. Ko.
Call today to make your appointment for an evaluation.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Headaches – Are Your Teeth the Culprit?

Bruxism, or the grinding of your teeth, can many times lead to tension-type headaches, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Bruxism, the clenching of upper and lower teeth together, and grinding – the side-to-side motion of teeth, often occurs when a person is under undo stress or tension. “However, not everyone who grinds or clenches is even aware they are doing this as many times it occurs during sleep,” says Dr. Judith Ko of Hemet Valley Dental Care in California, your Inland Empire’s Top Dentist.

While the causes will vary from person to person, the end results are you will be putting additional pressure on the muscles, teeth and other tissues of the mouth and face, which can result in teeth wear, broken teeth and face or jaw pain.

“You may be bruxing and grinding at night if you wake with a dull, deep headache,” adds Dr. Ko.

So what can you do?

Most recommend the reduction of stress – you may be able to do this by just learning relaxation techniques.

Get plenty of sleep – sleep loss is one factor that seems to increase the likelihood that a person will grind or brux their teeth.

Avoid eating hard foods such as nuts, candies, steak and stop chewing gum – all of which can exacerbate a sore jaw joint.

If you are having facial or jaw pain, apply ice to the muscles.

“And get in to see your dentist to determine if you are going to be best helped by wearing a night guard or splint,” says Dr. Ko.

Don’t let headaches prevent you from enjoying life, call today.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Am I Grinding My Teeth?

Bruxism is the term used for when people grind their teeth. It occurs generally a night when a person is asleep and often unaware they are even doing it. But what causes grinding or bruxism? According to Dr. Judith Ko, your Inland Empire’s Top Dentist, “Bruxism is often caused by anxiety, stress or tension. It’s why we often see college students suffering during mid-terms or finals, or why when a business professional has an important deadline they also present with a broken tooth.”

While anxiety and tension lead the list of reasons for bruxism, grinding can also occur when a person has suppressed anger or rage issues, or is someone who is aggressive, competitive or hyperactive in nature.

“And sometimes grinding can be the result of bite or occlusion issues with how the upper and lower teeth fit together,” adds Dr. Ko.

Why is this an issue? “When your teeth do not fit together correctly and when you are grinding due to anxiety, it produces unnatural wear to the teeth and too often results in the cusps of teeth being broken,” says Dr. Ko.

What can you do? A first step is to be evaluated. A comprehensive exam will generally give your dentist an idea of what is going on. Most times bite issues can be corrected with some adjustment, or a night guard may be recommended to protect the teeth. “While the fix is relatively easy and affordable, doing nothing is just not the smart option. Teeth that are damaged enough to need a crown are often also the ones that need root canal treatment. Excessive bruxing and grinding can loosen teeth and the wear can prevent you from enjoying your food,” adds Dr. Ko.

Don’t wait. If you think you may be someone who should be evaluated, call today and schedule an appointment!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Remove Stains From Teeth

As the summer gets fully underway, we are all conscious of our smiles. The more our skin takes on a healthy summer glow, the more our smile stands out. How can you make the most of yours?

“If you have minimal staining you may want to try any of the numerous over-the-counter whitening products,” says Dr. Judith Ko of Hemet Valley Dental Care in Hemet, California. There are strips that can be applied or gel that can be painted on. While these products are not super strong, they may provide the little life you are looking for.

With significant staining you may want to consider an in-office whitening system, sometimes referred to as a 1-hour whitening procedure or whitening done with customized take-home trays. This has been proven to be the most effective when significant staining is a challenge.

Of course, your best bet to keeping your teeth their brightest is to brush, floss and see your dentist on a regular basis. Brushing and flossing removes plaque that accumulates with each meal. Focusing on good oral home care reduces the amount of stain that is accrued and that stain can easily be removed during your routine visits to the dentist.

And the adage an apple a day, not only is good for keeping the doctor away, it can also keep your smile whiter! This summer don’t let your smile hide.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fluoride – Good or Bad?

If only the answer was easy. Fluoride is a chemical that has been used in toothpastes, some rinses, applied by your dentist and is many times added to water. Studies show that fluoride does prevent dental decay – and that is a good thing. But we also know that fluoride is considered a toxic substance and since the late 1990’s, the FDA has required toothpaste to carry a warning stating that fact.

While ingesting fluoride is now in some circles considered questionable, the use of fluoride in toothpastes, and oral rinses is still seen as posing a reduced risk while providing a larger benefit.

You may find that when you visit your dentist, she will make the recommendation for additional in-office fluoride. This fluoride can be given to the patient in gel form, an oral rinse or in some instances as varnish. When you are given a fluoride treatment in the dental office, your care provider will be careful to make sure that all excess fluoride is removed from the teeth and mouth. All fluoride applied or given in the dental office is done so with recommendations for withholding food and drink for a period of time after application. This ensures that the fluoride adheres to the teeth and is minimally ingested.

“Fluoride along with brushing and flossing is the best way to keep your smile its brightest for a lifetime,” says Dr. Judith Ko, your Top Dentist in the Inland Empire.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dental Flossing. Should You Choose An Alternate Method?

Dr. Judith Ko of Hemet, California is adamant, “The best type of floss is the one a patient will use.”

Floss resembles a piece of thread. It is passed between teeth to remove plaque a toothbrush will miss. Flossing is best when it is a daily habit and is critical to good oral health. Many different types of floss are available from waxed to unwaxed, flavored and unflavored and there is even dental tape, which is almost more like a flat ribbon. There are also special floss holders that make flossing easier and interdental cleaners – picks, sticks or brushes that can help clean between the teeth.

Finally there is the Waterpik and Airfloss. Both are oral irrigators that also work to remove plaque and other debris from between the teeth and below the gumline to improve gum health. Studies have shown that these types of devices may even be superior to floss in reducing bleeding and as effective in removing plaque. “The important thing is that the area between the teeth is cleaned on a regular basis,” adds Dr. Ko. “How you go about it, is up to each individual.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Smiling - What Can It Do For You?

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do,” ~ Mother Teresa

Smiling not only can change the way others view you, a smile can also bright your day. Smiling when you don’t really feel like it, is a way to send a message to your brain that you are happy. Science has shown that facial expressions can create physiological changes that match the emotion expressed. So smile away.

There is also evidence that smiling helps a person to reduce their blood pressure, improve digestion and regulate blood sugar. Not only that, but smiling – because it tells your brain you are happy, will slow breathing and heart rate which reduces stressful feelings.

Of course, a smile makes you appear more attractive. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96% of adults believe an attractive smile makes you more appealing and perhaps, more employable.

So why isn’t everyone always smiling? “Many times people come into our office embarrassed about their smile,” says Dr. Judith Ko, voted a Top Dentist by the Inland Empire Magazine. “If their color is darker than what they’d like, we can enhance their smile with whitening. If they have teeth that are shaped in a way they dislike, we can often do some gentle shaping and apply veneers to help. In other words, if someone is unhappy with their smile, there are generally solutions.”

So what are you waiting for?