A plate full of healthy food

This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful for Great Oral Health!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to be close to family and friends, and to celebrate everything we’re thankful for. At Burlingame Dental Arts, we think– why not give thanks for a great smile?

And what better way to celebrate oral health than to carefully guard it during all the festivities? Follow these suggestions, and your teeth will have something to be thankful for too!

Travel lightly– and carry a big brush

Even if you’re only going for the day, bring a toothbrush! This is one of the simplest ways to keep abreast of your oral health throughout a day filled with food. In between meals (or after a snack) just take a quick trip to the bathroom and brush your teeth. Not only will this keep oral bacteria from “celebrating Thanksgiving,” it may encourage you to eat less– which will have your waistline thanking you too!

Avoid temptation

And speaking of snacking… you may be hungry, you may be excited about the big turkey feast you’re about to dig into, but try to avoid grazing. The presence of food in your mouth means bacteria are eating too– so the less it’s there, the better. Despite all the temptations, try to limit your eating to mealtimes, and drink plenty of water after.

Fill up– but not on lots of carbs

Carbohydrate-heavy foods, whether or not they have added sugar, can be detrimental to your oral health because they stick to your teeth. Sweets– like cookies and pie– are especially insidious for leaving pockets of carbohydrate-y goodness for bacteria in your mouth. And sticky candy– like Grandma’s homemade taffy– is especially problematic. If you indulge, remember to brush your teeth afterwards!

Eat your vegetables

On Thanksgiving, this is easy! Stewed greens, roasted winter roots, mashed potatoes and yams are not only plentiful, they’re good for your teeth and gums. These hearty vegetables contain high amounts of vitamins C and A that protect you from forms of gum disease like gingivitis and periodontitis. While you’re digging in, remember to balance out all those goodies with a healthy helping of vegetables to keep your gums in working order!

Burlingame Dental Arts, your first choice in Portland dental care

At our office, we believe Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to step back from our daily routine and reflect on all we have to be grateful for– and we want great dental health to be on every patient’s gratitude list!

If you’ve missed a visit with us in the last year, take a moment to make an appointment now so that you can enjoy great oral health every Thanksgiving for years to come!

Photo Credit: Stacy Spensley via Compfight cc

A man and woman wearing face masks and kissing

Kiss and Tell– How Our Relationships Effect Our Microbiomes

According to an article published in Medical News Today, we may have more in common with our significant others than a shared love of stamp collections or silent films. Apparently, we may actually share a fraction of our microbiomes!

A quick microbiome tutorial:

As the highly educated patients of Burlingame Dental Arts are mostly likely already aware, our microbiome consists of the trillions of bacteria who call our bodies home. Most of these species also happen to be “environmentally conscious,” and perform valuable– even critical– functions that contribute to our body’s overall health.

In fact, one great example of microbiome function applies to oral health. For healthy teeth and gums, we rely in part on commensal bacteria living in our mouths to act as “guards” against pathogenic bacteria. Our “native” bacterial populations (and scientists estimate that our mouths contain, on average, 700 different species of bacteria) control the growth and spread of bacterial invaders by competing for food, space, or other living essentials.

What effects our microbiome?

Our microbiota is influenced by our age, our diet, the places we live– and, the individuals with whom we share our lives. In fact, according to a study performed at Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, we may exchange microbiota more frequently that we think with those around us– specifically, our romantic partners.

So… this brings us to kissing. The group of researchers from the Netherlands wanted to study how much of our microbiota we share when engaged in “intimate kissing,” which they define as being for at least 10 seconds and— OK, all the 10-year-olds reading this, feel free to be seriously grossed out by this part– requiring the exchange of saliva (EEEeeeeew!).

Shared moments lead to… shared microbiota!

According to the researchers, as many as 80 million bacteria are exchanged between two partners in the space of a 10-second kiss! Scientists note that couples who kiss frequently actually share a significant portion of oral microbiota, since they are constantly introducing it into each others’ mouths.

However, frequent kissing is necessary to maintain oral microbiome similarity. According to the research, native species of bacteria will restore the previous bacterial balance and do away with the newcomers– so, if you go on a long trip away from your sweetie, the two of you will be less similar (microbiotically speaking) when you return than when you left.

The one exception to this is for bacteria that colonize our tongues. While the salivary bacteria exchanged during a kiss enjoyed only transient inclusion into each partner’s microbiome, lingual bacteria– bacteria that live on our tongues– actually settled down and stayed there. Scientists own this difference to the variation in habitat and food needs of our respective oral bacteria.

But don’t kiss romance goodbye after reading this!

While some people may find the entire subject slightly off-putting, we at Burlingame Dental Arts believe that our microbiomes simply… bring us closer to those we love, in sometimes unexpected ways. Now that’s romance for you!

Would you like to learn more about how your microbiome contributes to your oral health? Talk bacteria with us at your next appointment at Burlingame Dental Arts, your Portland, OR dental clinic.

Photo Credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via Compfight cc

A young boy grinning and showing all of his teeth

Research Reveals Information on Dental Development

“Milk teeth” can tell us more about our children’s development than visits from the tooth fairy. According to new research published in November’s American Journal of Physical Anthropology, milk teeth, or primary teeth, shed light on ancient human behaviors.

The timing of teeth

Our primary teeth begin developing in utero, and usually begin erupting at around six months of age. The timing of this, of course, depends greatly on the individual– some children don’t cut their first teeth until 10 months or even a year, while a few are born with teeth. As we all know, there are no two children alike!

Not all primary teeth develop at the same rate, however. Incisors form in the second trimester of development in utero, while molars wait until the third trimester. In this study, scientists examined the rate of enamel deposition on developing teeth. Enamel is the hard outer layer of our teeth, and the enamel cells making this layer work at different rates depending on the tooth type: faster for incisors, and slower for molars.

So what’s timing got to do with it?

Researchers are drawing a connection between the timing of this early tooth formation and one of the oldest human behaviors: breast feeding. According to the scientists, incisor teeth develop early so that they are ready to erupt at around the time that the mother will wean her child.

Breastfeeding behaviors in ancient humans, including weaning, is a mysterious topic for anthropologists. We know that other primates, like chimpanzees, appear to breastfeed for longer, but of course learning about such precise behaviors from people who have been gone for millennia is challenging.

Scientists use tooth timing in anthropology

Researchers examined enamel deposits on the primary teeth of prehistoric skulls, to time their development and subsequent eruption. Because previous research on weaning only allowed scientists to examine skulls with “pre-erupted” teeth (a rare find), recognition of the relationship between enamel deposits and weaning greatly broadens the number of skulls available to study.

Of course, breastfeeding behavior between mothers and infants differs greatly between different people; practices vary widely around the world. But scientists believe there was probably a similar pattern among ancient humans, who didn’t have social media, attachment parenting, or any full-time job besides hunting and gathering. Learning about what our ancestors did to care for their young, can inform what we do now.

For your Portland dental clinic, it all comes down to dentistry

Even more important to us at Burlingame Dental Arts is having more proof of just how varied and fascinating the scope of your oral health can be. Not only do your teeth make a difference in your systemic health; they can tell us about a piece of history!

And speaking of primary teeth, remember to start your kids on their road to great dental health when their first teeth erupt or by one year of age. Early, regular, preventive dental care not only keeps your kids smiling, it teaches them the skills they’ll need for a lifetime of optimal oral health. Call or click to schedule your next appointment with Burlingame Dental Arts, your Portland dental clinic.

Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll via Compfight cc

This Holiday Season, Skip the Stress

This Holiday Season, Skip the Stress

Extra sweets aren’t the only thing that has dental professionals cringing over the holiday season. Holiday stressors like travel, visitors, money, or just feeling too busy can all have a negative impact on your teeth.

How does stress affect oral health?

Actually, many oral health problems have been linked to high levels of stress. The most obvious might be bruxism, or tooth grinding, which occurs at night when you think you’re resting. Jaw clenching is another similar problem– have you ever noticed during a busy day that you’re holding your jaw really tightly? Both bruxism and jaw clenching wear down your teeth over time, weaken tooth roots, and can cause gum recession.

Stress hormones also take a toll on oral health. When you are feeling anxious, your sympathetic nervous system kicks in, releasing a hormone cortisol. This is a great hormone for dealing with a serious situation– like a zombie attack or the need to lift up a freight train single-handedly– but cortisol doesn’t help very much on the day-to-day level. In fact, researchers believe it may contribute gum disease (in addition to high blood pressure and a host of other systemic health problems).

Additionally, stress can lead to unhealthy choices like tobacco use or high levels of alcohol ingestion. When we feel worn down from a long stressful day, filled with anxiety, we are less likely to do a proper job of cleaning our teeth by brushing and flossing– and we may be tempted to skip it all together!

Stay stress-free with these tips from your SW Portland dental clinic

at for health

A balanced diet supports oral health and is an essential element in preventive dental care. Filling up on Christmas cookies or chocolate Hanukkah gelt everyday not only increases stress hormones, it just isn’t supporting your body the way you need. Stick to three healthy meals a day, and save the sweets for a modest dessert.


During busy times, like the holidays, it’s easy to forget to make time for exercise– but your daily jog or yoga session is critical, and not just in fighting off extra cookie calories. When you exercise for 20 minutes, your body releases more serotonin— the “feel-good” hormone– in the brain. Serotonin reduces stress and creates a feeling of wellbeing.

Keep up on health

Brushing, flossing, and making sure that you’re up-to-date on your next appointment with your SW Portland dental clinic are all things that cannot wait– no matter how busy you are. Make time for self care and brush and floss twice daily– this is especially important with all the extra sweets around!

Need to make an appointment? You can do it here. When you come in, be sure to share your holiday stress-reducing tips!


Happy Holidays!

Photo Credit: K. Sawyer Photography via Compfight cc

Two teenage girls sticking their tongues out at the camera

Make Oral Care a Teenage Dream

Two teenage girls sticking their tongues out at the camera

Do you have a teenager in your house? When it comes to family dentistry, your Portland dentist at Burlingame Dental Arts puts special emphasis on teenagers for good reason. Teenagers comprise a unique group of patients— not quite kids, not quite adults. And while teenage oral care sometimes varies– and widely– good oral care makes a big difference on their lifelong dental health.

Why target teens?

As we know, good oral hygiene is important at every age and stage of life. When it comes to teenagers, oral hygiene may present a special challenge for a few reasons:

  • Changing schedules. Teenagers are increasingly independent, and more and more, they follow their own schedules– this can impact oral care, which certainly does depend on a schedule. In addition, teenagers commonly take on new commitments– like an early morning class or new sport, eat at odd hours, stay out late or wake up early.
  • New teeth. While we think of younger children as being the primary bearers of new teeth, the last permanent teeth, including wisdom teeth, actually erupt during the teenage years. Brand-new teeth are even more susceptible to gathering plaque and possible decay, so excellent oral hygiene is especially important at this time– after all, these new teeth are for life!
  • New everything! Teenagers love to try new things. In general, this exploratory stage of life is a wonderful– and sometimes hilarious– time, but be aware that it can impact oral health. Your son trying his hand at National Novel Writing Month is one thing, entering a soda-drinking contest or a dangerous full-contact sport is another! 

So what can we do to help teens?

Fortunately, assisting teens in oral health involves something they’re ready to give– their opinion. Because teenagers naturally want more responsibility and more independence, oral care is a good task for a teenager to demonstrate his or her responsibility and grown-up abilities at taking care of business. 

Ask your son or daughter about what schedule fits his or her lifestyle best and work together with your teenager to create an oral hygiene regime that they choose. Compromise works great in this area (and in all other teenage-related areas). For example, ask that your teenager floss once a day but they choose whether to do it in the morning or night.

Other suggestions that your Portland dentist at Burlingame Dental Arts has found success with:

  • Expound on how attractive fresh breath and a spinach-free smile are to the opposite sex
  • Supply a “brushing on the go” kit for a busy teenager, including floss, toothpaste, and toothbrush
  • Xylitol gum is a good option for snackers– xylitol has caries-fighting abilities, and with fresh breath people are less apt to snack in the first place
  • Keep up with regular appointments to Burlingame Dental Arts– this allows us to catch any small problems before they become big ones!

It’s all in the journey

Parenting teenagers is challenging, fun, and often funny. With some education and a lot of teamwork, we are here to help you and your teenager enjoy a beautiful smile for a lifetime.

Questions? Suggestions? Call or schedule your next appointment now. We love to see you.

Photo Credit: Kaitlin K via Compfight cc

Know Your Dental ABC’s

Know Your Dental ABC’s

Learning games is a great way to engage kids with new ideas, facts, or skills– like the skill of maintaining lifelong oral health!

In case thinking up dental games isn’t your thing, we’re here to help. Introducing: Dental ABC’s! This game is sure to help your young patients familiarize themselves with dental concepts so they feel comfortable and confident on their regular office visits to their SW Portland dentist at Burlingame Dental Arts. Here we go!

A is for American Academy of Pediatrics

The AAP is a science-based organization dedicated to children’s health– including their oral health!

B is for Brushing, of course!

Kids and adults should brush their teeth a minimum of two times a day, for two minutes each time. Hold your brush at a 45 degree angle and work gently along your gumline. For more tips, see the ADA website.

C is for Cavities… yuck

That’s what we’re fighting against. Without proper hygiene, bacteria in our mouths harm our tooth enamel and can cause cavities.

D is for Dentist

Your dentist partners with you and other health-care professionals to ensure your very best health. Dr. De Graff is all committed to providing outstanding dental care.

E is for Excited!

That’s how we feel when we know you’re coming in for an appointment!

F is for Flossing

We recommend flossing at least once a day. Flossing is just as critical to oral care as brushing is; it cleans the parts of your mouth that a toothbrush can’t, and protects against gum disease.

G is for Gingivitis (and Gums!)

Gingivitis is a form of gum disease, and is often characterized by gum bleeding, pain, swelling or reddening. Gingivitis is pretty common, and is almost always cleared up with better oral care, but it’s still important to mention any gum bleeding or pain at your dentist appointment.

H is for Halitosis

Halitosis means bad breath!! There are many factors that can contribute to halitosis: poor oral hygiene, eating stinky foods, acid reflux, and more. If you have persistent halitosis, it’s important to speak with your SW Portland dentist at Burlingame Dental Arts.

I is for Insider Tip

Our team at Burlingame Dental Arts is committed to patient education– including sharing all our insider knowledge about dental health and hygiene!

J is for Jaws

Not the movie, your jaws! Your mandible and maxilla form the framework for your smile, and good dental health contributes to good oral bone health as well.

K is for Kiss

This one’s up to you… but good oral hygiene is far more likely to lead to romance than its alternative.

L is for Laser

More and more, lasers are used in dental procedures. Ask us how we use lasers in our clinic!

M is for Mouthguard

This protective device is critical for avoiding injuries when playing sports, and some people with bruxism (tooth grinding) wear mouthguards at night so they don’t wear down the enamel on their teeth.

N is for Nitrous Oxide

Also called “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a sedative that can help reduce anxiety during a difficult dental procedure.

O is for Oral health, which is our passion!

P is for Plaque

That’s the sticky build-up of bacteria and their metabolic products that we get on our teeth. Plaque can lead to tooth damage, so regular brushing and flossing to clean it off is critical.

Q is for Quite Extraordinary

This is the praise our staff showers on our patients’ dazzling smiles!

R is for Rich

This is what you are after the Tooth Fairy comes.

S is for Smile

A healthy smile can make a big difference in a young person’s life by giving her the confidence to raise her hand in class, meet new people, or ask for a raise. Lifelong oral care is key to maintaining your smile.

T is for Toothpaste

One of oral hygiene’s indisposable tools, choose a toothpaste with a pleasing flavor that contains fluoride, which strengthens tooth enamel.

U is for Urge to Brush

Many of our patients enjoy brushing their teeth after meals and snacks to ensure a flawless (and spinach-free) smile.

V is for Victory…

… against plaque and bacteria!

W is for White…

The (non) color we hope your smile is!

X is for Xray

This is an imaging tool we use to look closely at your teeth and monitor for cavities or health changes. We use the digital version in conjunction with our goal of being a paperless clinic.

Y is for Why not see your favorite SW Portland dentist today?


Z is for Zero cavities…

… with regular oral care.


We hope you enjoyed our Dental ABC’s!


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5 Spring Pacific Northwest Foods Not to Miss!

5 Spring Pacific Northwest Foods Not to Miss!

Portlanders celebrate the arrival of spring in our unique Portland way– by eating amazing, locally grown, seasonal food! Gone are those long, wet days. Now there is new Pacific Northwest produce, ready to be enjoyed.

At Burlingame Dental Arts, your Portland dental office, we’re encouraging our patients to really explore this abundance of fresh foods because it supports great dental care. Spring vegetables are rich in the minerals and vitamins we need to keep our teeth healthy— what a better way to celebrate living in the Great Northwest than with a beautiful smile?


You may be starting to see raab in the grocery store– spring is its moment to shine, but what is it? Raab is actually new shoots and buds of members of the brassica family. Broccoli raab may be the most common type seen on the shelves, but collards, kale, mustard, and even brussel sprouts all offer raabs.

Raabs are best eaten by lightly sauteing or briefly branching. Eat it as-is or use in stir-fries, omelettes, salads or sides.

Spring pea shoots

We’re still waiting for those delicious sugar snap peas to arrive, but fresh greens are already here– in the form of pea shoots! These beautiful and delicious greens don’t take any preparation and will brighten any spring salad. Because so many of us grow peas in our kitchen gardens, this is a good way to stretch the garden’s giving season just a little farther.


Portlanders are lucky in that we get to enjoy locally harvested seasonal mushrooms many times out of the year– and in the spring, that mushroom is the morel. Its funny, honey-combed exterior is unmistakable, and delicious with butter and garlic.

Many people enjoy hunting for mushrooms themselves, but experts (and Burlingame Dental Arts) still caution against hunting and eating mushrooms without experience or the help of someone versed in the art of mushroom foraging. Besides, morels are plentiful in grocery stores this time of year, making it unnecessary to trudge through the still-damp hills outside Portland.


If you are out on the hunt for morels with a local mushroom expert, keep an eye out for the wild-sourced sensation of the season: fiddleheads. Fiddleheads resemble the curly end of a violin, hence their name, but really they are the unfurled frond of an ostrich fern.

Beautiful to behold, and tasting faintly of asparagus, fiddleheads can only be found for a couple weeks each spring– making them a special treat. They can be steamed or lightly sauteed with butter and lemon for a delicious and wild side dish.


Speaking of asparagus, starting in April, this delicious vegetable will officially be in season. While asparagus is technically available year ’round, thanks to the wonders of our global economy, the best way to enjoy asparagus is to indulge by eating the young, tender shoots when they’re really in season.

Asparagus is a hearty perennial, making it a good candidate for home gardens. It offers gum-healthy B vitamins while being low in calories and sodium.

What are your Pacific Northwest spring favorites?

Share them with us at your next appointment!

Oral Care During Pregnancy

Oral Care During Pregnancy

Burlingame Dental Arts is the number one source for family dental care Portland residents choose. Why? Well, one reason is that we consider the health of your entire family– including all the different stages of life that take place.

Pregnancy is an incredible and exciting stage of life for new and growing families. While wonderful, pregnancy can also place women at a slightly higher risk for some oral health problems, and the health of your mouth, in turn, may impact your child. Being aware of the risks and monitoring your oral health is a critical part of your prenatal care. Here are our quick tips for optimal oral health during pregnancy.


The best thing you can do for your oral health during pregnancy is make sure your mouth is healthy before you get pregnant. Besides daily care, a lot of regular oral health care overlaps with the health measures you’ve already probably taken to ensure a healthy pregnancy and child. Diet, exercise, avoidance of stress and sweets are all just a few of the things you may be doing while you are preparing for a pregnancy, and those things all benefit your oral health. 

Strike a balance

Because of hormonal changes, pregnancy places women at a higher risk for gum disease and bleeding, which in turn can have health impacts on your fetus. In addition to your daily care it is critical not to skip your dental visits at this time!

As important as dental visits are, some women feel nervous that dental cleanings or procedures could have harmful effects on their developing child. We totally understand, and for your health and your baby’s, we recommend:

  • Tell us if you are pregnant; this enables us to plan your dental care accordingly– and congratulate you!
  • Schedule your check-up for the second trimester; the first trimester is critical for proper fetal development, and the third is uncomfortable!
  • Schedule any elective procedures you’re having until after delivery, just to be on the safe side.
  • Avoid X-rays unless in case of emergency.
  • Tell us any prenatal vitamins or medications that may be prescribed by your physician. It may influence the type of dental care we provide! 

Remember: don’t skip your dental visits just because you are pregnant– this is a very important time to get dental care! If you have any reservations, please call our friendly staff, and we will create a dental care plan that fits you.

Manage nausea

Pregnancy contains certain stereotypes that often serve as fodder for Hollywood. While no one experiences the miracle of birth quite as fast (and as well made-up) as they do in a 90-minute movie featuring impossibly good looking people, many real live women will attest that morning sickness is real. And it can affect your oral care. 

It’s understandable that you probably aren’t thinking about daily flossing, but if you are experiencing serious nausea, vomiting, or aversion to taste or smell, your oral health can be at risk. Here are some steps to take:

  • Make sure your toothpaste is still attractive to your new pregnancy nose. If you don’t like the smell or taste, it’s a lot harder to brush.
  • Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, even if you’re too nauseated to eat. Try fizzy water with “bitters” for a beverage that also soothes. Lack of eating decreases saliva production, and you want to be sure to have a lot right now to ward off cavities and gum disease.
  • Finally, make sure you brush immediately afterward if you do experience vomiting. Sorry for the visual, but stomach acid is a potent destroyer of tooth enamel and you want to protect your mouth as much as possible.

Do you have more questions on caring for you mouth during pregnancy? We’d love to help! Please call us or ask one of our doctors at your next appointment. We look forward to seeing you. 


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The Surprise Drink Your Smile Can’t Stand

The Surprise Drink Your Smile Can’t Stand

recent study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry names two drinks as the most significant contributors to dental damage: soft drinks and fruit juice. Your Portland dentists at Burlingame Dental Arts know that our patients don’t indulge in soda, but juice can be a surprising culprit– isn’t juice supposed to be good for you? Let’s take a closer look.

pH and Prevention

Saliva is one of the most amazing dental tools for preventing cavities we all have on our side, and do you know why? OK, there’s a lot of reasons. But the one we want to mention is pH— saliva works as a buffer in our mouths to keep oral pH alkaline, meaning at or above seven on the pH scale.

The pH of the mouth is critical for cavity prevention. Acid eats away at our dental enamel, exposing the softer dentin underneath and leading to erosion and cavities, which are painful and damaging. An acidic oral environment can happen from foods, drinks, and of course the bacteria who release acid as a metabolic byproduct after consuming sugars.

Saliva washes away acid and alkalinizes the oral cavity naturally, but if new acidic substances are constantly introduced, it can’t do its job.

Soda: the unsurprising suspect

Sipping on soda is one foolproof way to constantly introduce new acidic products into your oral cavity. The subsequent bathing of teeth in acidic, sugar-rich environment simultaneously lowers the oral pH to dangerous levels and feeds the bacteria who lower it further. In some studies, damage has been shown to occur within 30 seconds of imbibing soda– it is seriously bad for your teeth!

Juice: the sleepier suspect

Many people are surprised to learn the juice can have pretty much the same oral effects as soda: it is high in acid and sugar, and creates the same vicious cycle of destruction that soda does.

As “natural” as they are marketed to be, old standbys like O.J. and grapefruit juice pack both a low pH and– especially in the case of grapefruit– are almost always high in sugars added to make them palatable.

Added sugars are a caution with many juices; fruit-based “beverages” are often marketed as a healthy alternative to sodas, when in fact that added sugar equals that of the soft drink consumers are attempting to avoid. What makes this even worse is that juice is commonly offered to children in sippy cups or straws, bathing their new teeth in acid and sugar while adults believe they are providing their offspring with a nutritious alternative to soda.

“But I love juice!”

Healthy dentition can usually handle a small amount of juice exposure– say, a small glass of fresh-squeezed orange or (unsweetened) grapefruit juice with breakfast, followed by water. In moderation, it is OK to enjoy single-ingredient juice: just the fruit, and hopefully the entire fruit– pulp and all.

However, whole fruit and not juice is recommended for children’s consumption, except on special occasions. The whole fruit contains all the vitamins and it moderates the amount of sugar consumed.

Plus, there’s a far better alternative to juice: milk. The study found that those who consistently drank milk had the smallest amount of dental erosion. So keep offering those glasses of milk to your kids!

Here’s to your health!

Your Portland dentists are dedicated to your oral health, and we’d love to raise a glass (of water, that great dental beverage) to your smile!

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment.

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Could There be a “Good” Side to Plaque?

Could There be a “Good” Side to Plaque?

Ha! That title got your attention, didn’t it? Well the answer is NO, plaque probably doesn’t have a kinder, gentler side– but we can learn from it! And what better way than to start creating a plaque catalog with all the different varieties available?

That’s what scientists are doing right now. Researchers in Canada have begun stockpiling plaque samples for study, believing that learning about plaque itself– and the various strains– will give us insight on identifying and treating the diseases that plaque can cause.

Plaque: not your friend

Plaque is the sticky conglomerate of millions of bacteria living in your mouth. And it’s not just the tiny unicellular bodies of each bacterium packed up against each other; the ingredients for plaque include biofilm which is an extracellular substance that bacteria create when they’ve reached critical mass in your mouth.

The trick with biofilm is that it protects the bacterial community. It helps them all stick to your new home, your tooth surface– or even worse, the hard-to-reach places between your teeth and gums. In addition to holding bacteria in place, biofilm wards of enzymatic advances from your saliva intended to loosen the bacterial grip on your mouth. It keeps bacteria in place.

But plaque has an ID too

Researchers at the Oral Microbiome and Metagenomics Research Lab at the University of Toronto are hoping to use a genetic “fingerprint” contained in plaque to help identify the different strains found in our mouths. This fingerprint is located on a strand of rRNA, part of the molecular machinery that keeps are cells alive, and each bacterial type has its own unique “type.”

The scientists want to start by identifying each sample of plaque based on its rRNA fingerprint and creating a catalog of the dental offenders– the usual suspects, if you will. They don’t need much plaque for the job; a sample the size of a pinhead is sufficient.

Future of plaque investigation

The researchers hope to use their plaque inventory to compare the plaque samples of people with specific diseases– say, kidney disease– with samples from a healthy person. Using comparative sampling, they plan on creating a map of health problems and related plaque offenders.

Armed with this information, dental researchers may be able to use plaque identification to treat certain diseases and monitor disease risk.

Compulsory public service announcement: prevention is the best medicine!

We can’t say it enough. Despite all the advances in dental medicine, there is no scientific discovery that can replace simple, thorough, preventative care. Daily hygiene should include brushing twice for two minutes at a time, and flossing at least once. This daily care needs to be supplemented with regular check-ups to your Portland dentists at Burlingame Dental Arts. When we see you on a regular six-month basis, we will always have a clear and up-to-date picture on your dental health.

Schedule your next appointment today!

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