Be clean before you get cleaned!

tooth and bacteriaDid you know that your toothbrush is a vessel for bacteria? And if it is not appropriately kept, you may be amassing an assortment of germs and bacteria and transferring these to your oral cavity when you brush your teeth? The ADA recently came out with a study along with the University of Alabama that has shown and proven the importance of proper storage of your toothbrush and the effects of bacteria that grow on your toothbrush.

It has been said for years to make sure you always store your toothbrush 8 feet away from your toilet, because fecal fumes and bacteria can shower your toothbrush and expose you to intestinal bacteria, coliforms, yeasts and Staphylococci (Staph Infection). Yes, that’s right! According to Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, assistant professor of periodontology in the School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama Birmingham, “Appropriate storage and care of your toothbrush are important to achieving personal oral hygiene and optimally effective plaque removal. “

Our mouth has hundreds of varieties of microorganisms which are capable of transporting to your toothbrush when you are brushing your teeth. As we all know, mostly all of us store our toothbrushes in the bathroom, which can be considered the cleanest room in your home but can also expose your toothbrush and your oral cavity to a slurry of gastrointestinal microorganisms that can be transmitted by “fecal-oral” path. According to Dr. Geisinger “The number of microorganisms can vary wildly from undetectable to 1 million colony-forming units.” Proper care of your toothbrush is the essential to your health overall.

So the question remains, what is the correct way and method to store your toothbrush in order to avoid transference of these bacteria and microorganisms?

What should I do if I am sick? Should I continue to use the same toothbrush?

It has been recommended by the ADA to throw away your toothbrush and replace it after sickness. It’s not worth the risk; no one likes to be sick let alone repeatedly sick! Toss it!

strong>When should I replace my toothbrush?

We recommend you replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Not only do your toothbrush bristles breakdown over time and become less effective, they can also accumulate harmful bacteria that can not only affect you but if stored close to another toothbrush can cross contaminate another toothbrush as well.

We recommend the following to not only procure your oral health but to also offset any accumulation of bacteria in your mouth.

  1. Wash your hands (thoroughly and often)
  2. Regular Cleanings. Don’t miss your routine dental cleaning, exam and x-rays. Make sure to pre-appoint for your 6, 4 or 3 month cleaning so you won’t ever miss a cleaning. By committing to having your teeth cleaned regularly you can decrease the bacterial burden that accrues in your mouth in a very short extent of time. By having your teeth cleaned and examined we can not only catch cavities in their early stages, but we can also eradicate the bacteria that accumulate and are non-removable by just your toothbrush.
  3. Antimicrobial Mouth Rinse. Use Antimicrobial mouth rinse before you brush your teeth. This assists you in decreasing the bacterial burden in your mouth that you can obtain from your toothbrush (if not properly stored).
  4. Don’t share your toothbrush. Ever.
  5. Floss regularly. By flossing your teeth you are removing bacteria from between the teeth, where your toothbrush is incapable of reaching. We recommend you floss 2-3 times a day, but even once is better than nothing. Create a habit, start one time a day and make it part of your regular routine just like brushing your teeth!

Procuring your oral health is paramount! We only get one set of adult teeth, so take care and be wise with your decisions. Get your teeth cleaned regularly, brush and floss daily, wash your hands and use commons sense. Don’t share your toothbrush, ever! By all means store your toothbrush in a cool dry place, preferably upside down in a cup to air dry and make sure to clean out the cup daily. The location where you store your toothbrush, can also accumulate harmful bacteria, so take care and be smart but be consistent!


All you want for Christmas is an electric toothbrush, right?

toothbrushElectric toothbrushes have been around in the US since the 1960’s. Over time we’ve seen the electric toothbrush evolve from not just an electric toothbrush but also to a sonic toothbrush. We know you hear us hammer on about the importance of brushing and caring for your teeth, and procuring your oral health as a result. And let’s face it, some tooth brushing is better than no tooth-brushing. What if I told you that brushing your teeth with ANY electric toothbrush is almost 100 times more effective than the traditional approach? Yes, it’s true, traditional/manual tooth-brushing allows for approximately only 300 strokes per minute. This might seem like a lot but in the scheme of things and in this day and age of technology, it’s not.

One of the most frequent questions our patients ask is:What toothbrush should I buy and how much should I spend?

Answer: spend what you can afford and honestly any electric toothbrush is better than the traditional approach. However, always make sure you are using a soft toothbrush head and even the cheap $10 Crest electric toothbrushes give you the option of a soft toothbrush head. It is best to avoid using a hard or firm toothbrush head as the results can be quite destructive to your soft tissues. Hard toothbrushes and improper brushing can wear the supporting tissues around the teeth and can over time expose the roots of the teeth which are irreversible and can turn into an unconformable situation.

What’s the difference between a Sonic toothbrush and an Electric toothbrush?

The difference all comes down to rotations per minute. For instance, an Electric toothbrush outputs between 3,000-7,500 rotations per minute whereas a sonic toothbrush outputs between 30,000-40,000 rotations per minutes! Sonic toothbrushes tend to be a little bit more expensive and some people do not like the sound of a sonic toothbrush even though they are the most effective. However, both types of toothbrushes are definitely more beneficial when it comes to preserving your oral health, gum tissues, teeth and removal of plaque and bacteria in the oral cavity.

Benefits of an electric/sonic toothbrush:

  • Most powered toothbrushes have 2 minute timers built in for optimal brushing
  • Long Term Results
  • More Efficient Brushing
  • Faster Brushing
  • Proficient Stain/Plaque Removal

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Peridontal Disease

Progression of Periodontal Disease

November is Diabetes Awareness month, and no better time to talk about the importance of your oral health and how it relates to the rest of your body especially if you have Diabetes.

We all know that the importance of bi-annual cleanings and for individuals who have periodontal disease, 3-4 times a year. Your oral health is part of an entire systemic process and it can distress your overall health. Individuals with periodontal disease stand a slightly higher risk to heart disease and other infections that could affect your health as whole.

Individuals, who have Diabetes, stand a higher risk of infection and experience more difficulty fighting periodontal disease hence the need for cleanings 3-4 times a year. Individuals with Diabetes who do not have their blood sugar or glucose levels under control, can struggle fighting infections and typically have more bacteria and plaque than the average person. What this means is these individuals are at a higher risk of having oral health issues and fighting infections in general.

Periodontal disease is an oral disease that affects the gum, tooth and bone. Periodontal disease can increase an individual’s ability to fight bacteria that invades the oral cavity. For this very reason, patients with periodontal disease are seen more than twice a year to remove these colonies of bacteria that form in a smaller period of time. If periodontal disease goes untreated, these bacteria that corrode the gum and bone could eventually make its way to the heart, and possibly causing systemic issues and potential heart issues as well.

Undiagnosed Diabetes is a serious health situation as it can contribute to high blood pressure and is also related to high cholesterol which can hugely escalate the threat of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Individuals living with Diabetes can be at greater risk of elevated blood sugar levels resulting in infections from periodontal disease. It is recommended to get your blood sugar levels at least once a year at your annual physical.

A clean mouth is a healthy mouth and in most cases a clean mouth is a healthy body!

Oral Cancer, The Silent Threat

“The American Cancer Society’s current estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States for 2013 are”:

  • About 36,000 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer.
  • An estimated 6,850 people will die of these cancers.

During your bi-annual cleanings, our hygienists perform a preliminary oral cancer screening and Dr. Yarbrough performs a full oral cancer screening during his exams on all our patients. This may appear as a redundant practice, but it is our job to manage, capture and understand your oral health and part of that is by being aware of the potential of oral cancer threats. During an oral cancer screening we can gather precise information to assist us in discovering early onset of oral lesions on the roof of the mouth, tongue, throat and gum tissues.

By performing these thorough checks during your cleanings we are able discover minor growths that are simply detachable in their early stages, in most cases. However, when regular examination are prolonged and not performed two times per year it is quite possible that if a growth begins forming it without being diagnosed, it could potentially progress into a silent threat to the oral cavity as a whole. Typically in the early stages of these growths they are challenging to be seen by the unaided eye, hence the importance of performing a thorough oral cancer screening by a dental professional. By using instruments and telescopic loops, we are capable of seeing tissues up close and can find abnormalities very quickly, usually.

In addition to our traditional methods and regular instruments for monitoring oral cancer, we also use a Velscope to assist us in the early detection of Oral Cancer. This astounding technology allows us to detect abnormal tissue structures by using a “distinctive blue-spectrum light which causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce”. Healthy tissues “fluoresce in distinctive patterns — patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease”. The Velscope allows us to see irregular tissue patterns that we would have otherwise not have seen with the unassisted eye. The Velscope is non-invasive, safe, quick, and precise tool. This light is a potentially lifesaving instrument that can help us detect the early onset of Oral Cancer.

Oral Cancer is a silent threat because it usually does not become painful and extremely apparent to the naked until it is too late. Undetected it can cause extenuating damage to the oral cavity and potentially throughout the body. Once diagnosed, Oral Cancer has the potential to spread to the larynx, esophagus and lungs. If detected early on, there are several methods of treatment, removal and other procedures to help procure the longevity of the overall health of the oral cavity and body. Preventative medicine is always your best bet, by seeing your dental professional twice a year with a periodic examination, Oral Cancer can most of the time be identified during a treatable stage!

Here is a YouTube video explaining how the Velscope works:

Sedation Dentistry

The fear of the dentist is as common as the fear of heights. We know that you want to come to dentist almost as much as you want to bungee jump off a 6 story bridge, but what if we told you, coming to the dentist might not be as bad you might think, and we could quell that feeling of panic with a few simple sedative options?

At Westgate Family Dental we offer three different sedation options. Dr. Yarbrough is specially trained and certified in IV and oral sedation and has been administering IV Sedation for over 30 years in his practice in addition to Nitrous Oxide. Dr. Latiolais is also Oral Sedation and Nitrous Oxide certified.  We want our patients to feel comfort int he fact they have choices when ti comes to their sedation options, options that are affordable and effective.

Here’s what we offer:

IV Sedation

IV Sedation is a safe, reversible and effective sedation technique that puts the patient into a “twilight” like sleep, you are NOT completely under as you would be in Deep Sedation. The sedative drugs are administered through an IV that is placed in the patient’s arm. The IV administration of the drugs allows for a faster, and more effective onset and faster turnaround. Even though you are in a “twilight” state of sleep, you will be in and out of this sleep throughout your procedure, however, the memory of the procedure after fully awaking will seem foggy and forgettable. During IV Sedation, the patient is capable of breathing on their own without the assistance of oxygen unlike Deep Sedation where they are incapable of breathing on their own. During IV Sedation your vitals are fully monitored by the doctor, using a hospital monitor that monitors your, Blood Pressure, Pulse (heart rate), Blood/Oxygen levels. Pre-Operative Note: Patients who elect IV Sedation are advised to not eat or drink anything 6 hours prior to their appointment with the exception of sips of water up to 2 hours prior to the appointment. The patient must have an adult over 18 bring them to their appointment, and take them home. Patient’s are not permitted to drive, operate heavy machinery or be left alone after the IV sedation.

Oral Sedation

Oral Sedation is administered in a pill format and is also a safe and effective form sedation. Similar to IV Sedation, Oral Sedation puts the patient in a “twilight” state of sleep and allows for the patient to breath on their own without the assistance of Oxygen. Oral sedation is a more inexpensive choice for sedation however, the onset is slower depending on the patient in comparison to the quick onset of IV Sedation but the effectiveness is almost equal in comparison. Your vitals are also monitored the same as IV Sedation as we monitor your blood pressure, pulse and blood/oxygen levels. Pre-Operative Note: Patients who elect oral sedation are advised to eat a light breakfast/lunch prior to their appointment and are also requested to be at their appointment one hour prior to the scheduled procedure to administer the oral sedation medication. The patient must have an adult over 18 bring them to their appointment, and take them. Patient’s are not permitted to drive after the oral sedation.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide (a.k.a laughing gas) is a safe and effective inhalation conscious sedation method administered through breathing through a nose mask. Nitrous Oxide is the mixture of Oxygen and Nitrous gas, which  a colorless and non-flammable gas and together are an effective form of conscious sedation.  Nitrous Oxide does not require any pre-operative prepping and does not involve needing someone to bring you and take you home from your appointment. As soon as the procedure is finished we place you on oxygen which then removes the Nitrous Oxide from your blood stream and you are able to drive and function normally post-operatively.

Visit our website @

Why It Is Wise To Remove Your Wisdom Teeth…

Wisdom TeethYou’ve heard it all before, wisdom teeth, those lovely extra teeth that 65% of us have been anatomically cursed with. Have you ever asked yourself, dentist, or dental professional why it is necessary to have your wisdom teeth removed?  To start with, there is a bit of irony involved with the coined phrase “wisdom teeth“, because having them doesn’t necessarily make you any wiser and it certainly doesn’t always give you superhuman chewing power either.

Wisdom teeth are dental phenomenons which are characteristically unusable because of how the body has allowed them to erupt or not erupt for that matter.  Wisdom teeth usually “grow in” sideways which makes them invisible to the human eye that is until they decide to shove on your existing teeth or partially erupt through the gums occasionally resulting in complications large or small. So let’s discuss the different scenarios for wisdom teeth andwhy these necessitate removal.

Impacted/Partially Impacted

Impacted Wisdom Teeth are exactly just that, (ie. wedged, compressed, crammed).  Which means when these teeth are growing in the jawbone they are literally growing under the gums and are hooked into the mandible/jawbone, and most times are invisible to the human eye.  It isn’t until the wisdom teeth begin to push on your existing teeth creating pockets where bacteria begins to live and breed.  What does this mean exactly? Well, because of the peculiar station of the impacted teeth, a pocket can form behind the normal tooth and in front of the impacted wisdom tooth. As a result, bacteria nests in this small pocket and eventually creates decay and issues with the normal tooth, which we call the innocent bystander,  this tooth is unrelated to the wisdom tooth. Destroying existing healthy teeth is never an option and there is nothing that can stop this from occurring other than removing the source of insult, which is the wisdom tooth itself. There is no home-care that will keep this area free and clear of bacteria as this seeps into the sub gingiva region, below the gums and wreaks havoc.  In some rare cases, where the wisdom teeth are so vastly impacted, and there is no threat of a bacteria pocket forming, removing them can actually create more harm than good, and because of that severe impaction, the pocket is incapable of forming.  7 times out of 10, the best option is to remove these impacted wisdom teeth before they begin to do harm to the existing erupted “innocent bystanding” teeth.


Erupted wisdom teeth are wisdom teeth that have fully grown out of the jaw bone and through the gums like normal teeth, which makes these this situation a double edged sword. These particular teeth in general can be fully functional or dysfunctional, depending on the state. What makes these teeth dysfunctional? Erupted wisdom teeth have a higher likelihood of getting decay and caries due to their position and because they are so far back in the mouth they become more difficult to treat and access with a toothbrush and/or floss.  The functional aspect is this, if you have erupted wisdom teeth and are able to brush and floss 2-3 x’s daily then you are highly more capable of a successful situation in keeping your wisdom, which means, more chewing power! However, these occurrences are rare. In addition to this, the older we are the harder our bone becomes which can also create issues for us down the road for removal. We always suggest to have these removed when patients are young given that the jawbone hasn’t fully grown which makes the removal easier at this time and easier on the patient.

The bottom line with wisdom teeth is this, if you have them and can use them then clean them, more than you normally would! Always consult with your dentist with advice about what is the best possible solution and situation for the removal of your wisdom teeth.  As I mentioned, sometimes you can keep your wisdom teeth without ever having to remove them, but it takes a special condition for this to happen.  Sometimes, removing your wisdom teeth is the best long term solution overall, due to the inability to keep these teeth clean and free of bacteria in addition to the difficulty of treating these teeth with fillings, crowns and/or root canals because of their location. It is never advised in any situation, to never wait until it hurts, because this will only prolong the inevitability of the removal and removal of wisdom teeth without infection are far easier in the long run than with infection.

The Importance of Dental X-Rays

Westgate Family Dental

x-rayHave you ever wondered why we take dental x-rays once a year? Sometimes the response from patients is they think that it isn’t pertinent or do not want to get exposed to radiation. At Westgate Family Dental we want to set up our patients with success and manageable oral health that doesn’t turn into expensive dentistry. This all starts with frequency. And with frequency we mean, cleanings every 6 months, exam 2 x’s a year and x-rays 1 x year. This sometimes seems like a lot, but look at as an investment into your oral health. And here’s why…

For starters we use digital sensor x-ray technology which is proven to be the safest and smallest form of radiation. Meaning, there is a 70% decrease in exposure to radiation than tradition x-ray films. On top of that, you receive more exposure to radiation from the being in the sun for…

View original post 701 more words