Category Archives for Blog


Life happens. Life can change on a dime, so it’s good to prepare by knowing what to do in a dental emergency.

At Petaluma Dental Group we have dental information sheets to help you on a variety of subjects. When you come in, take a look or pick up a copy of this flyer to have at home.

Remember, we are always here for you with Same-Day Emergency appointments and after-hours call line. We care about you!

Freshen Your Breath – Bad Breath Stinks!

Bad breath (also known as halitosis or malodor) can be embarrassing and can affect your relationships or even your job.

We all know that certain foods can cause bad breath (think coffee, onions, garlic and others). Other causes can be health problems: sinus infections, acid reflex and colds to name a few and certain medications.

However studies show that 80 – 90% of bad breath comes from an oral source. Here are some common causes:

Cleanliness: When a person does not brush or floss his/her teeth regularly, food particles remaining in the mouth can rot and cause bad odors. Your mouth also acts like a natural hothouse that allows these bacteria to grow. When you eat, bacteria feed on the food left in your mouth and leaves a foul-smelling waste product behind. 

Gum Disease:
Bad breath that just won’t go away or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of advanced gum disease, which is caused by a sticky, cavity-causing bacteria called plaque. Gum disease is an infection in your gums and like all infections, needs to be treated right away.

Cavities, rotten teeth, cracked fillings and oral infections can also cause bad breath that cant be “fixed” with mouthwash. These conditions need to be addressed as the further they deteriorate the more they will affect your body’s overall health.

What are treatment options and home remedies for bad breath? What can be done to prevent bad breath?

Treatment of bad breath depends on the cause.

The American Dental Association recommends the following:

  • Brush and floss teeth regularly. Remember to brush the tongue, or use a tongue scraper, to remove bacteria from its surface. Brushing the tongue can help with bad breath caused by foods a person has eaten.
  • See a dentist regularly for checkups and to ensure dentures and braces are properly fitted and cleaned (and clean dentures thoroughly each night). This prevents bacteria from growing.
  • Quit smoking or using chewing tobacco.
  • Keep the mouth moist by drinking water and chewing sugarless gum or sugar-free hard candy to stimulate the production of saliva. Eat a diet of foods that need to be thoroughly chewed to keep saliva flowing. Foods that require a lot of chewing, such as apples or carrots, are good options.
  • Over-the-counter mouthwash can help kill bad breath-causing bacteria and may temporarily mask bad breath odors, but it may not treat the underlying cause.
  • Natural remedies used in the treatment of bad breath include chewing on mint or parsley.

If bad breath is due to a health problem such as a sinus infection, diabetes, acid reflux, GERD etc., then the underlying medical issue needs to be treated.

If bad breath is a side effect of taking a medication, discuss with a health care professional whether there are other options for medication that can be taken. Never stop taking a medication without first consulting your health care professional.

For patients who suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia), artificial saliva may be prescribed by a dentist.

We are here to help you. If you would like to set up an appointment for a checkup please call us at: (707) 762-0067

3 Good Reasons to See a Dentist BEFORE Cancer Treatment

Feel better...Save Teeth and Bones...Fight Cancer




Cancer treatment can cause side effects in your mouth. A dental checkup before treatment starts can help prevent painful mouth problems.


A dentist will help protect your mouth, teeth and jaw bones from damage caused by head and neck radiation and chemotherapy. Children also need special protection for their growing teeth and facial bones.


Serious side effects in the mouth can delay, or even stop, cancer treatment. To fight cancer best, your cancer care team should include a dentist.


Brush gently, brush often

Floss gently - do it daily

Keep your mouth moist

Eat and Drink with care

Stop using tobacco

• Brush your teeth, and your tongue, gently with an extra-soft toothbrush.

• Soften the bristles in warm water if your mouth is very sore.

• Brush after every meal and at bedtime.

• Floss once a day to remove plaque

• Avoid areas of your gums that are bleeding or sore, but keep flossing your other teeth.

• Rinse often with water

• Don't use mouthwashes that contain alcohol.

• Use a saliva substitute to help moisten your mouth.

• Choose soft, easy-to-chew foods.

• Protect your mouth from spicy, sour, or crunchy foods.

• Choose lukewarm foods and drinks instead of hot or icy-cold ones.

• Avoid alcoholic drinks.

• Ask your cancer care team to help you stop smoking or chewing tobacco. People who quit smoking or chewing tobacco have fewer mouth problems.

We are here to help. We have more information on this subject. If you would like to additional information, just let us know or contact us. 

Should You Replace Your Toothbrush Every 3 Months?

Your toothbrush looks a little sad. The ends are frayed and sticking out, it looks a little faded and used. Should I pick one up at the store or order one on Amazon? I’ll just get new one when I get my cleaning. It’s probably okay. Sound familiar? What’s the worst that could happen from using an old toothbrush anyway, right?

As we know, a healthy mouth starts with having good a dental habits. Part of a good dental routine is making sure you change your toothbrush every three months because believe it or not, using an old toothbrush can negatively affect your oral health. From causing sickness to damaging your gums, an old toothbrush could be your mouth’s downfall.

Introducing Bacteria

Your toothbrush is constantly exposed to water and the bacteria that is found in your mouth. It makes sense then that bacteria are transferred onto your toothbrush and establish colonies thanks to the wet environment, which allows the bacteria to thrive. That’s the same bacteria that causes cavities. With bacteria living on your brush, it can be continually transferred back to your mouth instead of being rinsed out each night.

Reintroducing bacteria into your mouth on a daily basis can cause damage to your teeth and oral health by causing infections or tooth decay. Replacing your toothbrush every three months can help ensure you are not introducing harmful bacteria into your mouth on a regular basis.

Cleaning Ineffectively

Using your toothbrush twice a day for three months can quickly wear down its bristles. A frayed toothbrush cannot stand up to the cleaning power of a new brush because its bristles aren’t as sturdy. When the bristles of a toothbrush wear down, they cannot reach into crevices as well to clean the bacteria and plaque off of your teeth. It’s best to keep a toothbrush that is in good condition so you clean your teeth as effectively as possible.

Causing Illness

Three months is longer than you may think. In that time, several sicknesses can come and go. While it is best to dispose of your toothbrush right after you recover from an illness, taking the extra precaution of disposing of your toothbrush every three months can help ensure you stay healthy. Bacteria and viruses can live for variable amounts of time including a few hours to several months according to National Health Services.

The Story of our Why: “Live wisely, love well, and serve greatly.”

The passion of Petaluma Dental Group is to provide a unique and exceptional experience for everyone who comes through our doors and to leave a positive impact on their lives.

This has been the commitment of the Petaluma Dental Group since I purchased it in 2009; but, truly, our hope is to do more than that. Not only do we want to leave a positive impact on those who come through our doors, we want to do so for our wider community and the world, and I think it’s important to share with you the story of our WHY.

The Story of our Why - Blog Image 1

The Story of Why

My early life was fraught with my own dental difficulties and plenty of moving — between having a gummy smile until the age of 10, to moving over 13 times in a 4-year span as a teenager, every single experience I had growing up was shaping me and setting me up for what I’m doing now.  The challenges I experienced built character, grit, and passion and helped put my life on the path to become not only the first dentist in my family, but the first to go to college.

Fast forward to the year 2009 — I was working with my own solo practice in Sonoma, and when the opportunity to purchase Petaluma Dental Group arose, I realized something.

My husband and I have two children (who were 2 and 4 years old at the time), and I thought back to my childhood, and I wondered...If my kids live in the same house their whole life and don’t have any exposure to the world, then how will they develop their own grit?  

It has been a dream of mine to be able to teach my kids about living a life of purpose and to be able to actually show them what it’s like to give back to those in need.

Purchasing Petaluma Dental Group was an opportunity to fulfill that lifelong dream of mine. When you have a group working together, like we do with the absolutely amazing team and leaders working together at Petaluma Dental Group, we’re able to support each other and allow one another to live our purpose.  

As such, Petaluma Dental Group is well-equipped to be able to serve and support the community locally and globally.

For example, in addition to our Give Kids a Smile and Super Kids Day events, at least two of our dentists travel 6 weeks out of the year to fulfill their passions, and I have also been able to pursue my calling of giving back with organizations like Missions of Mercy (a domestic philanthropic dental association), as well as international missions, such as the most recent ones this year, where my entire family and I went to serve in places like Haiti (in January), and Vietnam (in March).  

Story Of Our Why - Blog Image 2

These most recent trips to Haiti and Vietnam were amazing experiences, and presented a bigger opportunity than just allowing me to use my skills to give back and serve others.

It was the opportunity for my children to experience the wider world — its challenges, pains, and needs — and to not only inspire gratitude within them, but also show them the positive impact of a supportive mindset and a servant’s heart.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some amazing stories from our trip to Haiti and Vietnam (as well as the contributions that our children made), and I would love to hear your stories of passion, too.

I believe we are capable of inspiring servants’ hearts across generations that can lead and support and contribute to a better world, and I believe that when we all give, the world gives back.

Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Teeth!

When many of us think of spring, we think of spring cleaning! But don’t forget about your teeth! Here are some top reasons to visit your dentist regularly.
Stop tooth loss and prevent cavities

We all know that plaque is the leading cause of tooth decay and can cause cavities if left unattended. Did you also know that gum disease begins when plaque builds up? As gum disease advances, plaque moves further down the tooth where it can destroy the supporting bone in your jaw, causing teeth to loosen and fall out. Regular check-ups and dental cleanings, flossing daily, and brushing twice a day are key factors in preventing gum disease.
Help maintain your overall health
Recent studies have linked heart attacks and strokes to gum disease, resulting from poor oral hygiene. Regular dental cleanings help to keep your teeth and gums healthy and could possibly reduce your risk of heart disease and strokes. Your dentist also screens you for oral cancer, which is highly curable if diagnosed early.
Brighten your smile
A dental cleaning can remove some of the built-up stains that can happen over time by drinking coffee, tea or wine, leaving you with a brighter, whiter smile!
Freshen your breath
Dental studies show that about 85 percent of people with persistent bad breath, also known as halitosis, have a dental problem that is to blame. Even if you brush and floss regularly, professional dental cleaning are needed to remove plaque and bacteria that regular brushing and flossing can’t reach. This will help keep your mouth healthy and fresh.
Save money
Most dental insurance plans pay for all or most of the cost of dental
cleanings and check-ups. At Petaluma Dental Group we offer Plan For Health, a wellness program that includes 3 cleanings, all exams and

x-rays for a year. It’s a great, low cost way to keep healthy and up to date with your oral hygiene. In the long run you will save money, time and pain by maintaining good oral hygiene at home and visiting your dentist regularly!

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Spring is here, and along with it comes baseball season. While we all love baseball, there is a dark cloud that hangs over the sport…the overwhelming use of chewing tobacco. Well, the tide is beginning to turn.

Chewing or smokeless
tobacco, which has been stuffed in the cheeks of major league baseball players for decades, is being banned at a growing number of ballparks. So far, four ballparks have passed bans on smokeless tobacco, including San Francisco. It’s important that children not be exposed to smokeless tobacco or see it being used by their on-field sports heroes.
Did you know that almost 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral and throat cancers this year? The good news is that when cancer is detected and treated early, there is a high survival rate!
Besides environmental factors; tobacco, sun, age, diet and alcohol, HPV (human papillomavirus) has a strong link to oral cancer. Petaluma Dental Group can do a screening to test you for HPV and will be able to tell you more about your susceptibility to oral cancer. Regular visits to your dentist can also improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early, when cancer can be treated more easily.

In between visits, it’s important to know the following signs and symptoms of oral cancer. Contact Petaluma Dental Group if you have any of these symptoms and they do not disappear after two weeks.
The symptoms of mouth or throat cancer can include:
• a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
• red or white patches
• pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
• a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
• difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
• a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
So enjoy our beautiful Sonoma County spring, take the kids to baseball games, picnic on our beautiful hills and don’t forget to ask your dentist to do your oral cancer screening and HPV testing on your next visit.

Bad Breath and What To Do About It

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be embarrassing and tough on those around you. Don’t feel bad though. Nearly 1 in 3 people have bad breath.

Fortunately, this problem is often easy to fix. What helps? Good oral hygiene, regular visits to your dentist, and ruling out any other factors, such as some medications, diets, and foods, that could make your breath less than pleasant.
What causes Bad Breath?
Bad breath is often caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that causes inflammation and gives off noxious odors or gases that smell bad. Everybody has nasty breath at some point, like when you get out of bed in the morning.
If you’re not sure if you have bad breath, ask a trusted friend. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell on your own. There is also another way to know. It may seem a bit gross, but look at and smell your dental floss after you use it. If your floss smells or there is blood on it, then there are probably foul odors in your mouth.
Studies show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. For instance, cavities or gum disease can lead to bad breath, as can tonsils that have trapped food particles, cracked fillings, and less-than-clean dentures.
Several internal medical conditions can also cause your breath to turn bad. They include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. You’ll want to see your doctor to rule out things like acid reflux, postnasal drip, and other causes of chronic dry mouth.
What can help Bad Breath?
If your bad breath is not cause by a medical condition, then the best thing that you can do is be sure to visit your dentist at least every six months and take good care of your teeth and gums at home. Ideally, you should brush and floss after every meal to help reduce the odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. While a regular toothbrush works just fine, we recommend using an electric toothbrush with a timer. This encourages most to brush their teeth for a full two minutes! Electric toothbrushes also have a uniform motion that helps remove plaque more efficiently than manual brushes.
What you eat affects breath. That’s because as food is digested, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream and then is released by your lungs when you breathe. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and regular meals. Snacking on raw carrots, celery, or apple slices can help clear your mouth of food particles.

Avoid breath busters such as garlic, onions, and some other spicy foods. Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water can help speed up the process of cleaning harmful bacteria and debris from between your teeth. Avoid sugary drinks and don’t drink too much coffee. It may be tasty, but coffee is a tough smell to get off the back of your tongue. Consider switching to an herbal or green tea.
Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products. Cigarettes, pipes, and snuff can give people foul breath. Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol can lead to a dry mouth. Too much beer, wine, and hard liquor can make your breath reek for up to 10 hours after you finish drinking.
Chew sugarless gum. Doing so 20 minutes after a meal can help with saliva flow. Gum that’s 100% xylitol-sweetened can help reduce cavities while freshening breath.

Fluoride and Adults

Experts used to think that fluoride was best suited for children by

strengthening teeth while they were still developing. Studies now show that topical fluoride, the kind in toothpastes and mouth rinses, as well as fluoride treatments, are beneficial for people of all ages. Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay and can repair teeth in the very early, microscopic stages of the disease.
How do I know if I need fluoride treatments?
If your drinking water has fluoride added, (Petaluma does NOT add fluoride to water), then brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste is considered sufficient for most adults with healthy teeth. People who drink mostly bottled water and those with certain conditions such as dry mouth or receded gums should talk to the dentist about special fluoride treatments. Fluoride treatments can also be helpful for people who wear braces or have had radiation therapy to the neck or head.
What’s the difference between fluoride toothpaste and fluoride treatments?

Fluoride is added to most toothpastes or fluoride mouth rinses that are available in a store or at a pharmacy, but the fluoride preparation used in the dental office is a much stronger concentration. Typically your hygienist can apply the treatment by simply brushing on the fluoride. This takes only a few minutes. After the fluoride is applied you will be asked not to eat or drink for a least 30 minutes to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride and help repair microscopic carious areas. Depending on your oral health status, fluoride treatments may be recommended every three, six or 12 months.
If you have any questions regarding fluoride treatments, please ask you dentist or hygienist.

Thumb Sucking or Pacifier Use

If your child uses sucking to relieve boredom, keep his hands busy or distract him with things he finds fun.
Praise or reward your child when he does not suck his thumb or use the pacifier. Star charts, daily rewards, and gentle reminders, especially during the day, can be very helpful.

Apply a bandage on the thumb or finger, or wear a glove at nightSucking is a natural instinct for infants. Sucking thumbs, fingers or pacifiers canmake children feel secure and happy, and it helps them learn about their world. When does pacifier use and thumb, or finger sucking become a problem? If your child sucks aggressively on a pacifier, his thumb or fingers beyond 2 to 4 years of age, it may affect the shape of his mouth or how his teeth are lining up. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth. Breaking the habit often occurs on its own. But if your child’s habit continues beyond age 4, there are several thing you can try:to act as a reminder. No matter what method you try, be sure to explain things to your child. Never use harsh words, teasing or punishment. Upsetting your child is not an effective way of getting rid of the habit.

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