Dentists Finally Tell The Truth about Needing to Floss…

flossBack in 2004, Listerine introduced a new mouthwash that claimed to replace the need to floss. If you believe that claim, may we also interest you in a can’t-lose investment deal on a new bridge from California to Hawaii?

Admit it. You read the headline and were hoping we were going to give you the go-ahead to skimp on the flossing. Since we here at Guerra Dental Health have a vested interest in the health of your teeth and gums, we’re afraid we can’t do that.

Just like your mama told you that, yes, you do need to eat your vegetables, we are here to tell you that flossing really is necessary. A strong mouthwash like Listerine can rinse leftover food particles off the tooth surface, but will only reach a little ways into the gumline. Dental floss is the only way to get that gunk out of there and keep it from causing tooth decay and gum disease.

Your mama also probably told you to wear sunscreen.  Sure, sunscreen is good for your skin’s health, but it’s also good for your appearance so you don’t look like a leather changepurse when you’re in your 40s. Guess what? Flossing is also good for your appearance. Gum disease can ruin your smile as it can wear away your gums and your teeth. Flossing helps to preserve gums and even the bone underneath.

There you have it. No matter what some TV commercials would have you believe, you need to floss and you need to do it right!

Quick Flossing Tips:

  • Wrap a piece of floss, 15 inches long or so, around each tooth in the shape of a C.
  • Floss in a firm but gentle up and down motion.
  • Use a size that’s comfortable for you. If you already have gum tissue damage or simply have large spaces between your teeth, you may want to use a wider type of floss.
  • Know that bleeding doesn’t mean you should stop flossing, In fact, it could be a sign of too much plaque that needs to be removed by flossing! However, be sure to give us a call if the bleeding continues for more than a few days.

Remember, we at Guerra Dental Health are here for you! Give us a call anytime with questions or concerns about your teeth and gums.

Also, in case you missed the itsy-bitsy print at the bottom of the screen during that infamous mouthwash commercial? It said Floss Daily


Are You Grinding Your Teeth Into Sawdust?

Are You Grinding Your Teeth Into Sawdust?

Bruxism. That’s the technical term for grinding your teeth. Most teeth grinding happens at night, and you may not even be aware of it. Your spouse may notice (and complain about) the noise, or other common symptoms might indicate you have a teeth-grinding problem. Systems of nighttime clenching and grinding can include headaches, jaw soreness,
sawdust earache, or teeth that are fractured, chipped, or loose. The constant muscular strain of grinding can cause all kinds of damage, including wear and tear on your teeth and jaw muscles. Severe bruxism can actually change the way you bite! You might unconsciously alter the way you bite and chew in order to use the undamaged parts of your teeth.

Teeth grinding can be conscious or unconscious, and it can occur during the day as well as at night. Though it can be caused by misaligned teeth, the most common cause of bruxism is stress. Anger can also cause grinding and clenching, especially during the day. If your boss is a jerk, he may be ruining your teeth and jaw as well as your day!

It’s best to schedule an appointment with us if you suspect you might suffer from bruxism. We’ll be able to tell from the wear and tear on your teeth if you have a problem with grinding. It’s possible you’ll need to be fitted with a nightguard, splint, or other dental device that can help protect your teeth and jaws from the effects of teeth-grinding. Over-the-counter mouthguards aren’t nearly as effective because they aren’t molded for your individual bite, and they can become dislodged when you grind your teeth at night.

There are some things you can do to help stop yourself from grinding your teeth. The most important tip is to eliminate stress as much as possible. That’s important not only for your dental health, but for your overall wellbeing!

Cut back on food and drinks that contain caffeine, such as soda (which is very naughty for your teeth anyway!), coffee, tea, and chocolate. Avoid alcohol, especially right before bed. Alcohol has been known to intensify teeth-grinding, and can also cause sleep disruption in general.

You can try to relax your jaw by putting a warm washcloth against your cheek. If you catch yourself clenching or grinding during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your front teeth. That will force your jaws to relax and can help you break the habit of clenching your jaw muscles.

You also want to avoid chewing on anything that is not food! This includes pens, pencils, or anything else you tend to gnaw on out of habit. You also may want to cut back on – or eliminate – gum chewing. Chewing gum can make your jaws used to the grinding and clenching motion.

As always, at Guerra Dental Health, we are here to help! If you suffer from teeth or jaw pain, or just need to schedule a cleaning, give us a call today at 504-267-9177. We look forward to hearing from you!

We Would Never Do This!


At the office of Dr. Greg Guerra, we truly care about your dental health – and we care about ours too! So we would like to share with you seven things we would never do when it comes to our teeth and gums.

1. Use our teeth to open a bottle cap, tear a piece of fabric, or for any other non-dental use.

Teeth have many functions, including biting and chewing food, smiling, aiding in proper speech, and more. But using them for things other than these can result in injury that can be difficult and expensive to repair!

2. Ignore any kind of dental pain or swelling

When your body is trying to tell you something, it is important to listen! While dental pain or swelling does sometimes temporarily go away, that doesn’t mean the underlying problem has resolved. Treating problems early on is always the best solution.

3. Think that bleeding gums are “normal.”

If blood were coming out of the ear (or any other body part) most people would be concerned, but for some reason many people think that bleeding gums are normal. They aren’t! Usually gums that bleed, are sensitive, or swollen means there is an underlying infection which could lead to tooth loss. Remember – coming in for regular checkups means early detection of any gum or tooth problems.

4. Eat something and then go to bed without brushing.

The flow of saliva decreases during sleep, and yucky morning breath isn’t the only problem it causes! Nighttime is the right time for sugars, bacteria and food debris to wreak havoc on your pearly whites. Always make sure to give your mouth a thorough brushing before beddy-bye.

5. Play any kind of sport without a mouthguard.

It is estimated that up to 40% of dental injuries occur while playing sports, most of them involving the front teeth. Practically all of these can be prevented by simply wearing a mouthguard. It’s an inexpensive and easy procedure (as compared to the over $500 million spent each year repairing dental sports injuries!)

6. Make health care decisions based solely on insurance coverage.

While dental insurance can be great for offsetting some of your healthcare costs, coverage does not indicate which treatment is right for you. At the office of Dr. Guerra we will work with you to maximize your insurance coverage, make comfortable financial arrangements, AND provide the best treatment possible! It is our goal to perform the highest quality dentistry in an affordable manner.

7. Go a day without smiling!!

Smiling benefits your mood, boosts your immune system, makers you look younger, relieves stress, and is contagious. No wonder we would never go a day without it!!

At the office of Dr. Greg Guerra we are here for you. If you would like to discuss any of these points or are in need of a checkup, cleaning or consultation, please give us a call today at (504)367-6193. We also welcome the referral of your friends and family!

Oral Warning Signs Can Indicate Serious Medical Conditions

checkupRegular dental exams not only help to decrease a patient’s risk of oral diseases, such as cavities and periodontal (gum) disease, but they may also help to diagnose other, sometimes life-threatening, medical conditions.

Dentists are able to assess a patient’s overall oral health and may recognize symptoms of serious diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and eating disorders, which often manifest as signs and symptoms inside of the mouth.

More than 25 million people in the United States alone suffer from diabetes.

“Because diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, the gums are at risk for gingivitis, an inflammation usually caused by the presence of bacteria in plaque,” says Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) spokesperson Julie Ann Barna, DMD, MAGD. “Additionally, those with diabetes can experience high incidences of oral fungal infections and persistent bad breath.”

Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers, with approximately 35,000 new cases reported annually in the United States.

“Indicators of oral cancer may include bleeding sores, lumps, or thick, hard spots, as well as changes in the way teeth fit together,” says Dr. Barna.

Oral cancer is sometimes difficult to self-diagnose, so routine dental exams are recommended. A dentist will feel for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks, and oral cavity and thoroughly examine the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for any sores or discolored tissues.

Eating Disorders
“Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, can rob the body of much-needed vitamins and minerals,” says Dr. Barna. “Without proper nutrition, the gums can lose their healthy pink color and become increasingly soft and tender, bleeding easily.”

Disorders that involve excessive vomiting, such as bulimia, can cause discoloration and erosion of the teeth due to constant contact with acid from the stomach. People who have eating disorders also may experience swollen salivary glands, dry mouth, sensitive teeth, and loss of tooth enamel.

Diseases negatively impact your general health, but they also can damage your oral health. Regularly scheduled dental exams allow dentists to detect or monitor your health.

“Patients should inform their dentists about any and all medical conditions and medicines that may affect their oral health, as well as any changes in their medical history,” says Dr. Barna. “Remember, maintaining a healthy body includes taking care of your oral health.”

Floss Like A Boss

Flossing is fun

Image credit: Brainless Tales

When it comes to your oral hygiene, flossing is just as important (if not more) than brushing your teeth. Flossing is the most effective weapon to use in the never-ending battle against plaque. While the majority of Americans brush their teeth twice daily, less than one third of the population incorporates flossing into their daily routine. In fact, flossing is such a dreaded task that 73% of Americans would rather go shopping for groceries than floss!

The fact that people are failing to floss daily is even more surprising when you consider that your smile is the most-noticed feature on your face when meeting new people. Most Americans are unhappy with their smile but fail to realize that a solution for a cleaner mouth and brighter smile can be wrapped around your finger (pun intended). The purpose of this blog post is not to undermine the importance of brushing your teeth two times per day, but to stress the importance of integrating flossing into your daily routine as well.

Why You Should Care

Floss, first commercially manufactured in 1882, was originally made from silk. Nowadays, floss is made from synthetic wax, nylon or Teflon. Whether your floss is minty or unflavored, waxed or unwaxed, wide or normal sized, it’s all designed to do one thing – fight plaque – and plaque never sleeps. A toothbrush effectively removes plaque from the top and outer surfaces of the teeth and gums, while floss is considered an interdental cleaner, meaning it’s specifically designed to clean the tight spaces between the teeth. When flossing daily, it is recommended to use a strand of floss no shorter than 12 inches. This would translate to using at least 365 feet of floss per year, yet the average American falls far short of that mark and purchases a mere 18 yards of floss annually.

Aside from the health benefits of flossing regularly, the routine will save you money in the long run. Most major dental procedures stem from the improper care of your mouth, so developing good flossing habits is one of the best preemptive actions you can take to stay out of the dental chair. A healthy mouth also helps to prevent much more serious health issues.

Take It From Me

As a dentist, I hear some great excuses as to why my patients are not flossing. Two of the most common pleas I hear are:

  • “It makes my gums bleed”
  • “I don’t have time to floss”

What most people do not know is that healthy gums won’t bleed no matter how hard you brush or floss. Unhealthy gums, on the other hand, are full of blood and even the smallest irritation can cause the gums to bleed. Your body’s immune system sends an abundance of blood to unhealthy gums to fight bacteria and infections. If you are not a habitual flosser your gums may bleed, but stick with it and your gums will become healthy relatively quickly. Most patients say that the bleeding stops after a week of regular flossing. The more you floss, the healthier your gums become, and they less they’ll bleed.

In my opinion, the latter excuse regarding not having enough time to floss is on par with “My dog ate my homework!” Everyone has plenty of time to make flossing a daily habit. Flossing does not need to be done in front of a mirror or even right before or after brushing. Flossing can be done anytime, anywhere (I flossed as I wrote this blog post!). Many of my clients will floss on their morning commute (eyes on the road please) or at their desk. On hold with customer service? Floss. Watching the Monday Night Football game? Floss.

You Can Do It!

My point here is that it is easy to find time to floss. Because it’s so cheap, I encourage my clients to purchase a few rolls of floss and strategically place them at home and at work. There’s never a bad time to floss and your mouth (and dentist) will be thankful. All you have to do to maintain a healthy smile is pull a few strings.

Top 5 Oral Hygiene Tips for a Bright, Shiny Smile

smiling womanWithout a doubt, good dental care is the cornerstone of a beautiful smile! Maintaining a daily dental care routine is essential to long-term oral health. Therefore it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice daily and to floss at least once a day as doing so will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease caused by plaque build up on the teeth.

Most of us know that there’s always room for improvement in our dental health routine. Today, we’re surrounded by all types of unhealthy food and drinks of which many are not good for our teeth. Plus, many foods and drinks like some berries, colas, coffee, tea and red wine can stain teeth, which can result in a smile that’s not as bright as it could be.

Many patients who visit our Gretna and Metairie, LA dental practice ask us for advice regarding how they can keep their teeth bright, shiny and beautiful. That’s why we’d like to offer these five oral hygiene tips that can go far in maintaining a bright, white smile!

1. Be Mindful of What You Eat
By avoiding the consumption of drinks that will stain your teeth such as tea, coffee and red wine, you can help keep your teeth white and bright. If you do choose to drink beverages that stain teeth, consider using a straw as this way the liquid will bypass your front teeth. After eating foods like intensely pigmented berries such as blueberries, blackberries and pomegranates, take the time to swish water in your mouth and then brush your teeth thoroughly.

2. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is not only bad for your health but it also is one of the main contributors of tooth staining. Plus, smoking is a recognized risk factor for the development of periodontal disease – a condition that eats away at your gums and the bones supporting your teeth. It can be tough to snuff the habit but there are many over-the-counter stop-smoking products available such as nicotine gums, patches and sprays. Your family doctor can help you quit the habit by prescribing a medication or by suggesting you join a stop smoking program.

3. Avoid Hot Drinks that Stain
While that steaming hot cup of tea or coffee may help you wake up in the morning, drinking teeth-staining beverages when hot can cause the staining agents to sit on the surface of your teeth longer than necessary to result in stubborn stains. While giving up coffee or tea may not be an option, a good alternative to drinking these beverages hot is to drink them cold through a straw. This way, the beverages will bypass your front teeth while still giving you that jolt of caffeine you need to get going each morning.

4. Brush and Floss Before Bed
Many of us are guilty of neglecting to brush and floss our teeth before going to bed at night. However, by doing so, we are risking the development of tooth decay and gum disease. During then nighttime, our mouths produce less saliva which is a natural defense against decay and gum disease. By neglecting or forgetting to brush and floss before bed, bacteria and plaque have a more optimal environment in which to wreak havoc on our teeth and gums.

5. Maintain Appointments with Your Dentist
Because most of us lead very active lives, it’s easy to put off going to the dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. However, by not going to the dentist regularly, you are putting your oral health at risk as your dentist is trained to spot dental problems early before they have the opportunity to do harm to your teeth. You should see your dentist at least once per year.

Our Gretna and Metairie, LA dentist Dr. Gregory Guerra provides a wide range of dental services that are all designed to help maintain optimal oral health. Whether you need a family dentist to care for your family’s dental health or are interested in teeth whitening, Guerra Dental Health has the solution you’re looking for!

Are Dental Implants Right For Me?

dental implantsMany advances made in dental technology have made it possible for almost anyone to benefit from dental implants. Dental implants are artificial tooth replacements that look, feel and function like natural teeth. Missing teeth can diminish your quality of life as you may feel embarrassed by the visible gaps in your smile and you may find it more difficult to enjoy your favorite foods or speak clearly.

The traditional solutions to missing teeth – bridges, dentures and crowns lose their effectiveness over time and are challenging to maintain. Dental implants on the other hand provide you with a positive, natural looking alternative that helps restore your smile and your ability to chew and speak properly. Dental implants can be used to replace one, a few or many teeth.

What Exactly is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is based on the design of a natural tooth. A natural tooth has two main parts. One part sits above the gumline while the second part, the root, sits securely in your jawbone. A dental implant may involve several pieces or it may consist of just two main parts. The top of a dental implant is custom-created just for you to match the shape and size of your natural tooth crown. The lower part of a dental implant replaces the root of the natural tooth. Implants are made of titanium or titanium alloy. Unlike most materials, the human body accepts titanium without the risk of infection.

How the Procedure is Done

The first part of the dental implant procedure involves surgically creating a space in the jawbone for the implant. The implant is then placed, followed by a healing cover. Depending upon the implant system, the gum may be sutured and a temporary denture placed. The site of the implant immediately begins to heal wherein the bone gradually attaches itself to the implant. It normally takes from 2 to 4 months for the healing process to complete. Once the healing has taken place, the custom restoration is fitted to the implant to complete the dental implant procedure.

Benefits of Dental Implants

There are many benefits associated with dental implants including:

  • Next best thing to healthy, natural teeth. An implant replaces a lost tooth so that it looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth.
  • Long-Term Solution. Dental implants can last a lifetime when properly cared for which is unlike other options such as bridges that need replacing every few years.
  • No More Worrying about Your Teeth. When you replace missing teeth with dental implants, you no longer have to hide your smile because you have visible gaps between your teeth. You also won’t need to worry about your teeth becoming loose or falling out when you speak, eat or laugh.
  • Help Retain the Natural Shape of Your Face & Smile. When you have teeth missing, you can look older than you are because your face can appear sunken as the jawbone naturally shrinks to compensate for the missing teeth. But with dental implants, you’re able to maintain the natural shape of your face and smile.
  • Eat What You Want. When you’ve filled gaps or spaces in your smile with dental implants, you’re able to enjoy all your favorite foods without hesitation.
  • Protects Your Natural Teeth. When a tooth supported bridge is placed, the natural teeth on one or both sides of the missing tooth need to be ground down some, which damages healthy teeth. But there is no grinding of natural teeth required when a dental implant is placed which means dental implants do not negatively implant healthy teeth.

For more information on dental implants, watch the educational videos that are linked on our website’s homepage. Our Gretna & Metairie, LA dentist, Dr. Greg Guerra, believes that making your smile the best it can be will go a long way towards improving your quality of life. If you’d like to find out if you’re a candidate for dental implants, please fill out and submit the Appointments form on our website or give us a call at (504) 367-6193. One of our team members will be happy to assist you.