Q: What’s the difference between tartar and plaque?

A: Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth every day. It is colorless and sticky, and it can be brushed away with a regular toothbrush. Tartar (also known as calculus) is a mix of minerals and the bacteria that plaque becomes if you don’t brush it away. It’s hard, yellowish or brownish, and it can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Dental restorative materials: ADA chart

The American Dental Association has a very helpful online chart about the different dental restorative materials available. The chart explains the different uses, benefits and potential complications of using all-porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, gold alloys and base metal alloys. Before you have a procedure done, it’s good to be well-informed about your options.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: I have cracks in my tongue. They’re not painful, but they are pretty deep. I’m not sure when I first noticed them, but they’ve been there a long time. What are they?

A: You probably have what we call a fissured tongue, also known as “lingua plicata,” “plicated tongue,” “furrowed tongue” and other names. It’s a relatively common, benign condition where the tongue has deep grooves on the top and sides. Fissured tongue is slightly more common in women than in men, and the grooves can sometimes get a little deeper as you age. It affects 2% to 5% of the U.S. population, and scientists believe it may be genetically inherited.

While a fissured tongue is usually nothing to worry about, anybody with unusual cracks in their tongue should get them looked at by a dentist to rule out other conditions. Sometimes food debris can get caught in the grooves of a fissured tongue and cause problems. Your dentist may encourage you to brush your tongue to help keep it clean.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: For as long as I can remember, I’ve had two hard, bony lumps under my tongue, on my jaw behind my teeth, one on each side. I asked my dentist about it years ago, and I think he said they were called tori. What are they?

A: Tori are bony growths in your mouth. When one occurs on the roof of your mouth we call it a torus palatinus, and if it appears on your lower jaw we call it a torus mandibulari. Tori can appear individually or in pairs, and they can take many different forms, from broad and smooth to ridged or bumpy. Over time they can increase or decrease in size.

Tori are usually harmless, although if any growths ever show up suddenly in your mouth you should definitely get them looked at by a dentist.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

"Is tongue-splitting safe?"

Q: I have a tongue piercing and I’m interested in getting my tongue split, so it will be forked. I’ve always thought that tongue-splittings look really cool. Is tongue-splitting safe?

A: No dentist is ever going to recommend that you get a tongue-splitting. Without going into a lot of scary details, getting a tongue-splitting can lead to dangerous infections, pain and swelling, increased saliva flow, nerve damage, numbness, loss of taste and difficulty speaking. Even if you don’t develop any of these problems immediately after the procedure, you can develop them much later. A tongue-splitting is a big responsibility and you’re going to have to work to take care of it for the rest of your life.

Before you have anything done to your tongue, talk to your dentist.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.


Q: What are space maintainers, and how are they used?

A: Children sometimes lose their baby teeth earlier than they should, by injury, tooth decay or in other ways. When that happens, their remaining teeth sometimes crowd together to fill the gap. Then when their adult tooth finally starts to grow in, there’s no room for it. To prevent problems like that we use space maintainers, which fill the gap while we wait for the adult tooth to grow in.

A space maintainer might be a band, or a temporary crown that we attach to one side of the vacant space. When the adult tooth does start to grow in, we simply remove the space maintainer.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: I’ve heard that chewing sugarless gum is good for my teeth, but my favorite sugarless gum says it contains something called sugar alcohol. Is sugar alcohol bad for my teeth?

A: Don’t worry about sugar alcohol. If a gum says it’s sugarless then it’s not bad for your teeth, even if contains sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are not metabolized by oral bacteria, so they won’t contribute to tooth decay.

Chewing sugarless gum helps prevent tooth decay. It causes your mouth to produce saliva, which breaks down the acids in your mouth and strengthens your tooth enamel. It’s a good idea to chew some gum after a meal, so your mouth will produce saliva that will help wash away food particles from your teeth.

When you shop for chewing gum, look for brands that are recommended by the American Dental Association. You should also check for the ingredient xylitol, because research suggests that it’s useful for reducing plaque.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: Is getting gum treatment while I’m pregnant safe for my baby?

A: In the past dentists would have advised pregnant women against gum treatment, but now we know that pregnant women can be treated for their gum disease without having to worry about it affecting the health of their babies.

In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers studied 400 2-year-olds who were born to mothers with gum disease. Half of the mothers had been treated with scaling and planing during their pregnancies, while the rest had not. The researchers learned that regardless of whether the mothers had been treated, the babies did just as well on language, motor, and mental tests. Actually the researchers found a slight increase in toddlers’ test scores when the mothers’ gum disease improved!

“Women can be confident that it’s not going to have clinically meaningful effects on their child’s development,” Dr. Bryan Michalowicz told Reuters.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy make women particularly susceptible to gum disease, so if you’re having a problem you should definitely have a check-up with a dentist.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: Is your LA dental office open in the evening? With my work schedule, it’s hard for me to make appointments during the day.

A: Our office in Culver City is open weekday evenings by appointment, and we’re also open some Saturdays and Sundays by appointment. We know your time is valuable, and our patients are important to us. We’ll make arrangements to accommodate your busy schedule. Give us a call and we’ll be glad to set up an appointment for you soon.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: I know that Denti-Cal changed what is covered for adults. What’s covered now?

A: The California Medi-Cal Dental Program (Denti-Cal) changed its policy for adults in 2009. Patients who are over age 21 are no longer covered for regular dental care, but they are still covered for all emergency services. Denti-Cal covers such services as:

* Diagnostic and preventive dental hygiene (e.g. examinations, x-rays, and teeth cleanings)
* Emergency services for pain control
* Tooth extractions
* Root canal treatments
* Prosthetic appliances

We accept Denti-Cal at our office in Culver City. If you want to learn more about the Denti-Cal program, visit the government’s Denti-Cal website by clicking here.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

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