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Simi Valley, CA 93065
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Dr. Ellison's Blog

Posts for tag: enamel

By Dr. Ellison
November 21, 2019
Category: Health
Tags: enamel   Dentist   toothpaste   stains  

Activated charcoal toothpaste appears to be a fast-growing trend in natural oral healthcare. A few of my patients have asked about it, so I decided to address the topic. Charcoal is a fine powder made up of the likes of ground coconut shells and wood oxidized under extreme pressure. It does have the ability to remove surface stains from things like red wine and coffee. It is a naturally detoxifying substance and raising the oral pH balance, reducing acidic plaque. But, in my opinion, the positive attributes end there.

I do not recommend using charcoal toothpaste and I issue a caution if you choose to. While it is mildly abrasive and able to remove surface stains, it is not proven as a tooth whitener and effects of long term use are unknown. Charcoal toothpaste, if overused, can wear down tooth enamel (which cannot be replaced); it can stain older teeth, veneers, restorations, bridges, crowns and porcelain fillings. Charcoal toothpaste can make teeth look more yellow by exposing the dentin, making teeth more sensitive.

If you are still not convinced, I am happy to discuss some better options such as adding baking soda to your regular toothpaste, an in-office tooth whitening or a prescribed at-home tooth whitening. Charcoal toothpaste is a trend I do not recommend. The benefits do not seem to outway the risks.


By Dr. Ellison
March 27, 2018
Category: Health
Tags: enamel   teeth   gums   saliva   tooth decay  

Here are some of my go-to food and drink choices that maximize nutrients for our bodies and our teeth. They all offer benefits to build healthier teeth and gums, prevent tooth decay and fight infection by neutralizing harmful acids, providing vitamins and minerals for tooth enamel and stimulating saliva production.

  • Cheese

Things like breads, citrus, sugary sweets produce acid-causing tooth decay. Eating cheese, which is high in calcium, raises the pH level in our mouths and can counteract that acid erosion.

  • Fatty Fish

My personal favorite, salmon, contains plenty of vitamin D which helps the teeth, gums and body absorb much-needed calcium.

  • High Fiber Vegetables and Fruit

The fiber in vegetables and fruit acts like tiny scrub brushes and promotes saliva production, discouraging plaque buildup. Vegetables and fruits also have a high water content which aids in hydration.

  • Xylitol

While not a food by itself, xylitol is a sweetener found in sugarless gum that fights tooth decay by killing bad bacteria. Chewing gum increases saliva which prevents both tooth decay and bad breath.

  • Green Tea

Admittedly I do not drink tea much, because I favor coffee. Green tea, however, contains polyphenol antioxidants which interact with and kill plaque-forming bacteria. Those bad bacteria feed on the sugars in your mouth, but  the polyphenols in the tea prevent the forming of acids from those bacteria that destroy tooth enamel.

  • Leafy Greens

Another personal favorite of mine that I eat daily. Kale, spinach, romaine for example contain folic acid and again, the calcium. Folic acid purportedly helps with gum disease.

  • Almonds

Almonds are an excellent source of calcium, vitamin E, magnesium and fiber. Vitamin E is said to help reduce gum pain and inflammation.

  • Yogurt

Preferably whole-fat Greek yogurt. The good bacteria from probiotics are not only excellent for your digestive tract, but they also protect your mouth against gum disease by countering the bad bacteria. Yogurt is another great source of calcium.

According to the American Dental Association, oral health is one of the first clear areas affected by a poor diet. Sugars cause cavities, tooth decay and gut inflammation, in addition to harming overall immune system. You can start by making small changes that add up. By making better choices we can improve our oral and overall health and encourage our bodies to heal naturally.


By Dr. Ellison
June 20, 2016
Category: Hygiene
Tags: enamel   crown   chip   chipped   broken   cracked   veneer   bonding   root canal  


My daughter has told me before about a recurring dream or nightmare she has, where her front teeth are chipped. She awakens and runs to the mirror in horror to make sure it isn’t true. This fear is actually not too uncommon. While I am not going to attempt to analyze or interpret what that dream might mean, I can tell you some things that may cause chipped, cracked or broken teeth as well as the basics on some solutions should this occur.

Biting on hard things such as ice, hard candy or the like; high-impact sports; accidents; bruxism (clenching or grinding teeth); decay and poor nutrition can all contribute or cause chips, cracks or breaks in teeth. I read a study in the last couple years which indicated around 30% of patients in their 40’s have at least one chipped tooth.

If you have chipped a very small piece of tooth enamel I often do bonding using tooth-colored composite resin. This is a very simple procedure that usually does not even require numbing the tooth. We roughen the surface to make the bonding material stick to it. Then we apply an adhesive and bonding material. We shape it so that the tooth looks natural and then use an ultraviolet light to harden it.

If you break a larger piece of tooth or there is decay present, I may file it and cover it with a crown.  Permanent crowns are either made of metal, resin or porcelain. Metal are the strongest, but resin and porcelain (ceramic) can be made to look like the original tooth. You can explore our website for further detail on bonding and on crown procedures.

If a front tooth is chipped or broken, a veneer is a great option to make the tooth look completely natural again. Veneers are a thin layer of tooth-colored resin or porcelain material. The application process is very similar to bonding, but the preparation is more involved.

Occasionally, a chip or a break on a tooth is large enough to where the pulp is exposed. The pulp is the center of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels. Bacteria can enter and create infection. If your tooth hurts or is sensitive to heat the pulp is most likely diseased and could die. If this happens, it needs to be removed to avoid infection. The solution is a root canal. This involves the removal of the dead tooth pulp, cleaning the root canal and then sealing it, which usually requires a crown. Most of the time, root canals are not any more involved or painful than having a cavity filled.

So, while I am unable interpret dreams and tell you the cause of your nightmarish scenario of chipping your front teeth, I am able to shed some light on possible causes and a handful of reasonable solutions if you happen to have a chipped, cracked or broken tooth

By Dr. Ellison
June 07, 2015
Category: Diet
Tags: erosion   enamel   acid   decay   soda   carcinogenic   caramel coloring  

Soda CansYou may have heard that sodas are bad for you. The acid and sugar erode the tooth enamel, causing decay and sensitivity. A recent study, published in an article in Science Daily, brings to light another worrisome component of soda.

It is widely known that protective enamel erodes away when it is exposed to acid. The phosphoric and citric acids contained in sodas are major contributors by increasing acidity, lowering the pH balance in the mouth. Furthermore, a variety of natural and artificial sweeteners also contribute to higher acid levels by sticking to the tooth enamel and providing a food source for bacteria. The bacteria then multiply, coat your teeth, and produce lactic acid. This process begins to wear away the tooth enamel in the same way as the phosphoric and citric acids. Sodas get their carbonation from the addition of small amounts of carbon dioxide to the water. As a result, carbonic acid is produced and it too erodes the enamel.

If the negative effects of soda on oral health are not enough, here is some more food for thought. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have detected and analyzed a potentially carcinogenic byproduct of certain types of caramel coloring found in colas and dark sodas. Caramel coloring is commonly used and people who regularly consume these beverages that contain it could be exposing themselves to 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a possible carcinogen formed during the process of some caramel coloring. You can read the original article here http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150218191653.htm?utm_source=feedburner.

It’s probably not a bad idea to cut back and perhaps eliminate sodas from your regular diet since there really are no benefits from its consumption. 

By Dr. Ellison
April 02, 2015
Category: Diet
Tags: erosion   enamel   citric acid   diet  

I recently learned that my granddaughter enjoys eating lemons. You might imagine the near panic I felt when I learned that the lemon wedge her mother puts into her water bottle (in an attempt to naturally flavor and encourage her to drink more water) was actually being consumed. Sucking on lemons (citric acid) can cause erosion of tooth enamel. When enamel is worn away, the dentin underneath is exposed, which can lead to sensitivity and pain.

While it has become an increasingly popular practice among health seekers to drink lemon water, and sometimes hot lemon water, it is a known fact that acidic food and drink can corrode enamel. This creates a rough surface on the tooth. Adding a lemon wedge to your water is fine as long as you don’t suck on it nor is it a good idea to regularly squeeze the lemon juice into the water. I suggested that my granddaughter stick with plain water unless she is willing to end her practice of eating the lemon wedges.

If you already have some erosion of tooth enamel, there are remedies such as sealants, bonding or veneers to protect the existing tooth structure and restore your beautiful smile. Avoid over-brushing or vigorous brushing and using firm pressure. Instead use a soft-bristled brush, applying gentle pressure in a circular motion to effectively remove bacteria and slough the acids off of the tooth surface.