Author: Dr. Sycamore

Looking Back at 2015

This will be my last post for 2015.  I’d like to just write down a few words and thoughts to describe how I feel about 2015.

Most of 2015 was spent on the construction and build out of my building.  It took forever and was really stressful but I think now that its done and some time has passed, I’m starting to think back about some of the fun and exciting times of construction.  I’d like to acknowledge a few of the people who really helped me so much in the construction phase of my dental practice.

Robert Silva is the owner of Perfection Plumbing.  He is probably the nicest plumber you’ll ever meet.  He did an amazing job on the extensive plumbing job.  He never made a fuss when issues sprung up and was the absolute best.

Joe Amodio is the owner of  Amodio J Electric.  He did a completely new electrical system.  He worked extensively with the power company in order to reroute the service to the back of the building from the side.  His team is very respected by the city inspectors which is huge in making sure there are no snags with inspections.   Joe looked at my initial plans and pointed out several things that I would have hated and we were able to change them before he even started working.  He saved me a ton of time and money.

Nate Talley owns Talley Construction.  I can’t say enough about this guy.  He’s been doing construction for a long time.  He’s seen it all.  He is as honest as they come.  If you get an opportunity to use him as a contractor then do it.  The beautiful marble work among many other things thanks to him.

My wife Kim was in the construction zone everyday working with the contractors and inspectors.  She went above and beyond in making sure everything was coordinated and is the main reason everything looks as good as it does.

I opened my practice midway through 2015.  I’ve been very lucky to work with two amazing ladies who help me to provide a good experience to my patients.

Abigail is our receptionist and the main point of contact for my patients.  I was very lucky to bring her into the practice.  She has an amazing positive attitude and is very flexible to make people feel welcome when they call or visit the office.

I have been working with Citlaly for about a year and a half.  She is my favorite assistant I’ve ever worked with and I will always be so grateful to her for her flexibility in working with me in the office.

Last, I want to thank all the patients who have found our practice in many different ways.  I’m so greatful that you’ve trusted us enough to be patients in our practice and I hope that you will stay with us for many, many years to come.

2015 was a very exciting year for me, but I have a feeling that 2016 will be even better!

 

Green Tea and Oral Health

drink-green-tea
A lot of people can’t go a day without their coffee.  But it has a lot of negative effects on our oral health.   Green tea is a great alternative which actually has many benefits to our general and oral health.  So why not try green tea as an alternative to coffee!

Green tea actually serves as a mild anti-bacterial solution.  It is basic in nature and it is an anti-inflammatory.  That is exactly the kind of beverage we need to optimize oral health!
Nearly all the problems we have with our teeth and gums are due to bacteria.  So the anti-bacterial properties of green tea are huge!  People who drink green tea regularly have less bacteria in their mouth.   Less bacteria means less tooth decay, periodontal diseThousand Oaks Dentist Justin Sycamore DDS Green Teaase, and bad breath.
Green tea has a basic pH.  It usually is a little above 7.   Tooth decay is caused by bacteria of the mouth.  The bacteria processes simple sugars in foods and then releases acidic compounds which erode the enamel of the teeth.  It is precisely the low pH of the bacteria acids which are the first step in tooth decay.  So by regularly drinking a basic green tea, we neutralize the acids and reduce the bacterial effects.
Green tea also is know to have anti-inflammatory properties.  This is key in periodontal disease.  Periodontal disease is the destruction of our gums due to an inflammatory response to bacteria.  So again, the anti-inflammatory properties of green tea will reduce the effects of oral bacteria.
So in summary, green tea is amazing.  It reduces the amount of oral bacteria and then it has other properties which reduce the negative effects of the remaining properties.  I think green tea is an amazing beverage which have many health benefits and I regularly encourage my patients to incorporate it into their diets!

What’s in a Name?

NameWhen I was doing the construction phase of starting my practice, a lot of family and friends asked me what I was going to name my practice.  I thought about the different names and what they would purvey about myself and my practice.  Ultimately, I decided not to use a business name and instead to use my own name.

I think there is a trend going on in dentistry that is negative.  We are seeing some dentists who are opening up multiple offices and hiring newly trained dentists to run them.  There are also large corporations which start up practices and run them in conjunction with a part-owner dentist.  I think both of these scenarios lead to a practice that’s first focus is on profit.  You see, the owners of these practices are not necessarily even present in the building and are mostly interested on the profitability of the practice.  They put pressure on the attending dentists and staff to sell more treatment which may not be necessary or beneficial.

Another negative aspect of these types of practice is a high rate of turnover of the dentist.  You may go and get to know a dentist and like how he or she treats you and then when you show up you may find out that you are scheduled with someone you’ve never met.  This can be unsettling to many patients.

I laughed when I was watching the Middle, on ABC last week.  The dentist who Frankie works for shuts down his practice and purchases a franchise in a corporate run dental chain.


I suppose that is why I put my name up on the side of my building.  When you come to my office you can be assured that I am the only dentist who will ever see you.  I don’t have any associates or partners.  Its just Justin Sycamore DDS.  I even do all of the cleanings at this point.

The other issue is that I have complete ownership of my practice.  All treatment decisions are made by myself and you, the patient.  I will discuss with you all the treatment options, their pros and cons, and different prices and let you choose the best option that works for you.  I won’t use any pressure to sell you any treatment.  I think that if I’m 100% honest and fair with you, you will come back and be with me for years and years to come.

So, what’s in a name?  My practice is not named after a city or a road.  The practice is named after me.  It represents me.  It stands for my honesty and my integrity.

-Dr. Sycamore

Children, Sugar, and Cavities

Children love sugar.  They crave it and can eat in huge quantities!  They will choose sugar over almost anything, so as parents we need to minimize sugary options.

Simple sugars are the main cause of oral health problems.  Sugars feed the harmful bacteria in the mouth and causes tooth decay, periodontal disease, and even bad breath.

Our body’s immune system can handle harmful bacteria growth without much issue unless sugar is consumed too frequently or in great quantities.  So that is what I look for when I evaluate a child’s risk for dental problems – the frequency and quantity of sugar consumed.

I think it’s best to start with drinks.  It’s really easy to consume hundreds of calories of sugar in minutes by drinking sugary drinks.

When I was growing up, juices were  considered by most a healthy option.  I think now, most people agree juice has little to no health advantages.  There is a ton of sugar and none of the fiber from the actual fruit.  You can also drink it really fast so that you drink too much.  Or even worse, you can drink it slowly so that you are supplying a constant stream of nutrition to the harmful bacteria in the mouth.

Thousand Oaks Dentist Justin Sycamore DDS Kids and Sugar

Baby Bottle Decay

There is a condition called baby bottle caries where an infant is put to bed with a bottle of juice or milk and over a brief period of time all the front teeth are completely rotten.

Soda is even worse!  It has all the sugar of juice plus it is acidic so it demineralizes the enamel at the same time that the teeth are about to be attacked by sugar loving bacteria.  I won’t even mention energy drinks. (Just don’t!)

As you can tell, I am not a fan of juice or soda.  I don’t allow my child to drink either at home.  If we, as parents do one thing for our children’s oral and general health, it should be to get them  accustomed to drinking water.  They will hate it at first but they will thank you later.

Milk is good from time to time.  It has a lot of good things in it.  But it also has lactose which breaks down into glucose, a simple sugar.  So it is good but water is better.

Fruits are great.  They are sweet and delicious.  They have a lot of vitamins and fiber.  So that’s great.  But watch out for dried fruits like raisins! Raisins have concentrated sugar and are very sticky.  They stick to the grooves of the teeth and keep the sugar on the teeth for hours!  So always brush after eating dried fruit!

Starchy foods cause big problems.  Foods like white rice, potatoes, white bread, and pastas also easily break down into simple sugars and often times get stuck between teeth.  We often don’t think of them to be as harmful as other sugary food but they can xylitolbe.

Candy is bad for us in many ways but it tastes so good!  Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that prevents cavities.  It actually prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.  It can be found in a lot of gums and mints.  If you use it 3-5 times a day you can see a decrease in cavities.  I have xylitol lollipops in my office.  While they do prevent cavities, they still have a lot of calories so don’t go crazy!

Oral hygiene helps when a child indulges.  So brush, floss, and mouth wash after consuming sugar!

Bad Breath Causes and Remedies

A lot of patients ask me about bad breath.  Its the worst.  Certain people are more prone to bad breath than others.  Sadly, I frequently have bad breath but I’ve learned some ways to minimizing it.

First we need to talk about the causes of bad breath!  It can be caused by food we eat, poor oral hygiene, tooth decay or infection, or even health problems.

Certain foods, like garlic and onions have strong odors that can persist in the mouth and cause bad breath directly.  Other foods which contain simple sugars can be broken down  and fuel the normally existing bacteria of the mouth, to create an indirect odor.  Its important to determine what kind of foods cause us to have bad breath and avoid them.  There is a great deal of variation throughout the population so some trial and error is necessary.  Also cutting down on foods high in sugar is important too.

There is a lot of bacteria in our bodies.  Some of it is good and is called normal flora.  It helps us digest food and usually doesn’t cause any problems.  There are more problematic bacteria as well.  If we don’t clean our teeth regularly, the bacteria can multiply and cause a lot of problems like tooth decay, periodontal disease and bad breath.  So regular brushing and flossing will keep the bacteria counts down and reduce dental problems.  Also the tongue can be a haven for bacteria so we need to keep it clean too!

Xerostomia is a fancy way to say dry mouth.  As we are living longer and taking more medications, xerostomia is becoming more prevalent.  This is because a side effect of many medications is dry mouth.  This is a tricky problem because you can’t stop taking your doctor prescribed medication.  But there are a few things we can do to keep our mouths hydrated.  The first is to drink a lot of water.  The other is to use products which are created for just this problem.  Biotene is a great product that many of my patients have tried and have had success in combating dry mouth.

Last I want to share two products that I personally use daily.  I really like them and recommend them to my patients all the time.  I buy them from Amazon because the price is the best but you can buy them at nearly any drug store.Dr. Justin Sycamore DDS Bad Breath with Tongue ScraperThousand Oaks Dentist Justin Sycamore DDS Fight Bad Breath with TheraBreath Mouthwash

The first is Dr. Tung’s tongue scraper.  It is awesome and is dishwasher safe and should last almost forever.  I use it several times a week.  If you have a few minutes you should read the reviews on amazon.  There are a few that are hilarious.

The second is TheraBreath.  I use this everyday.  It is alcohol free and uses chlorine (ClO2) as its active ingredient.  I used Listerine for years but I’ve found this to be much better.  I’m a big fan.

Bad breath stinks but with a little knowledge and effort we can minimize its impact on our lives!

Office News

A Little Update

I have been really busy lately and haven’t had a chance to make a formal blog entry so I will make a little update today about two exciting things that happened recently.

The Halloween Candy Buyback was a really big success. I wasn’t sure if anyone would come, but we had a big turnout and collected well over 100 pounds of candy! So thanks to everyone who came and supported the buyback! It was pretty amazing to see that much candy in a pile. It took up most of our storage closet. So I feel really happy about our event.

The other great thing that happened was I got to volunteer with a group called Thousand Smiles which helps kids who were born with cleft lip and cleft palate. They head down to Mexico several times a year to put on all volunteer clinics. It’s a pretty incredible organization! I believe it’s supported by the Rotary Club. There is a surgical unit which takes the children to a local hospital and repairs the cleft lips and palates and then there is a dental team which does all of the dental work including orthodontics and implants. I got to spend part of the week in Ensenada, Mexico where I could be part of this great team of surgeons, nurses, and dentists who volunteer their time for those who really need help. So it was a great time and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year!

Halloween Candy Buyback

I’m not a grinch.

I love Halloween.  Its one of my favorite holidays.  My house and dental office has Halloween decorations.  I dress up as Indiana Jones every year.  I also don’t have any issue with candy.  I think candy is a wonderful treat once in a while.  I’m not the dentist who passes out toothbrushes on Halloween.  I love candy too.  So, why the Halloween Candy Buyback?

I hope all children are able to dress up and trick or treat as long as they like.  Its so fun to be out at night and visit neighbors houses who have decked out their homes in spooky decor.  Its fun to see which of your friends got the most candy.  When I was growing up, my brothers and sisters and I would sit around and lay out our candy and then trade it among ourselves.    We would gorge ourselves on Halloween night.  I am all for this!  I hope kids eat a ton of candy on Saturday night and even Sunday too!  But then, I think its healthy to say, “Halloween was really fun!  Lets take down the decorations, put away our costumes, and get rid of this extra candy!”

So why not bring it to my dental office.  I will ship it to Operation Gratitude where they will distribute it to the troops overseas.  It is a great treat for a soldier who has been out of the country.  Have you ever been out of the country for several weeks?  I have, and I really started to miss American snacks and candy.  So it is a great way to give an American soldier a little piece of home while he or she is away.  But not only do they eat the candy themselves, but they also give it to children overseas to create goodwill.  So it’s a really worthy cause.

I hope everyone has an amazing and safe Halloween and that you will bring in your extra candy to our Halloween Candy Buyback on the Monday after Halloween!

-Dr. Sycamore

halloween-tooth

X-Rays and Radiation

A lot of my patients are concerned about radiation.  I am too.  Fortunately the x-ray system we use really minimizes the exposure to radiation.

I use digital sensors in my practice.  They have a lot of advantages.  They reduced radiation exposure by 90%.  They also allow me to enlarge them so I can diagnose better.   I can send them as attachments through email.  Also they don’t require any chemicals to develop so that is good for the environment. Dental Sensor Radiation Justin Sycamore DDS Thousand Oaks Dentist

I use a handheld x-ray unit.  It allows us to take the x-rays quickly and minimizes retakes which also reduces radiological exposure.  I’ve found that with the handheld unit I can reduce the exposure time dramatically which is a big advantage to my patients.  Long gone are the days when an assistant positions a giant x-ray unit inches away from your brain and then runs out of the room before taking the x-ray.  This x-ray unit is designed to look like a camera to make you feel more comfortable and be aware that we are avoiding your exposure to radiation!

Zen PX-2 Radiation Justin Sycamore DDS Thousand Oaks Dentist

Even with the technology advances, we still use the same lead aprons with thyroid shield to further reduce exposure.

Last, I really do try to minimize the number of x-rays that I take.  You’ll find that in my office, before I take a single x-ray, I’ll do an oral evaluation to determine your cavity risk.  We may take as few as two x-rays on your first visit and then we may put off more x-rays for one to two years.  I don’t have a standard number of x-rays that we take at each visit.

So x-rays are very important to diagnose dental problems but with technology and common sense we can minimize exposure!

Dr. Sycamore