Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Health While Pregnant

July 22nd, 2019

Some conditions of pregnancy such as hormonal changes and morning sickness can have an effect on the woman's oral health and, subsequently, her dental care routine. While it's generally not necessary for women to drastically change their dental routine during pregnancy, there are a few precautions expectant mothers can take to help maintain optimal oral health for the full gestation period and beyond.

Have a Checkup Before Becoming Pregnant

Pregnant woman standing in a blue tunic holding her belly

It's a good idea for women who are planning to become pregnant to schedule a routine dental checkup beforehand. This allows the dentist to look for, diagnose, and treat any potential tooth or gum problems before the pregnancy. Having professionally cleaned teeth going into the pregnancy will also make it easier to maintain good oral health until the baby is born.

Keep the Dentist Informed

Routine dental care and even emergency procedures are generally perfectly safe during pregnancy, but it's important to notify the dentist of the pregnancy as early as possible. He or she will want to keep track of any medications or vitamins being taken and consider if the patient needs alterations to her dental care routine. The dentist will also take extra precautions to protect pregnant patients if X-rays need to be taken.

Watch for Changes in Periodontal Health

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can put women at an increased risk for periodontal disease, which are diseases that affect the gums and soft tissues of the mouth. A condition called pregnancy gingivitis, which causes gum tenderness and easy bleeding, is also possible. Pregnant women should monitor their gums and alert their dentist of any bleeding, tenderness, swelling, and other unusual symptoms. We recommend scheduling an extra dental cleaning during pregnancy to promote optimal health.

Dental Health and Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is a common experience during pregnancy, and the vomiting it may cause can wear away at the enamel in addition to making it difficult for pregnant women to brush their teeth comfortably. Pregnant women suffering from nausea may want to try a bland or unflavored toothpaste; the dentist or oral hygienist may be able to recommend brands. It may also be helpful to rinse regularly with water or a light, fluoride-free mouthwash.

Eat Right for Oral and Baby Health

Cravings for sugary foods are common during pregnancy, but indulging too much increases the risk of tooth decay. Expecting mothers should try to eat a healthy, balanced diet, both for their own oral health and for that of the baby. Foods rich in calcium are especially important to support a growing baby's teeth and bones.

The team at Kozica Dental offers a full range of dental services to help ensure optimal oral health throughout pregnancy and beyond. Request an appointment online or call us at (508) 755-0751 today.

Four Questions to Ask Your New Dentist

March 15th, 2019

A girl getting her teeth examined at the dentist

For many patients, visiting a new dentist can be nerve-racking. Don't hesitate to bring up your concerns to make sure that the dentist you're seeing is the best choice for you and your family. Here are four questions you should consider asking during your first appointment.

How Will You Handle My Treatment Concerns?

Dentists know that patients are often anxious about receiving dental treatments. Managing your anxiety should be their priority. If you're afraid of pain, embarrassed about your oral health, have sensitive teeth, or experience other issues that make going to the dentist stressful, try to bring them up right away. Also, express any concerns you may have about the safety of specific treatments or procedures.

Do You Take My Insurance or Offer Financing Options?

Many people avoid going to the dentist because they don't know if they can afford it. If you have dental insurance, ask the administrative staff at your new office if they accept your coverage. If not, see if they offer financing options, which may provide more flexible payment plans.

What Is Your Approach to Dental Emergencies?

Some dental offices can see patients immediately for emergencies, but others may not offer that option. Similarly, you might not be able to see your usual dentist or dental hygienist if you schedule a last-minute appointment. Ask your new office about their process for handling urgent dental issues.

Do You Take Pediatric Patients?

If you have children, don't forget to ask your new dentist if they accept pediatric patients, because some practices specialize in adult dental care. You may also want to ask if they have experience handling children who have never been to a dentist and if they have specific techniques for making children feel more comfortable, such as providing small toys, goody bags, or flavored toothpaste.

The staff at Kozica Dental has helped make patients in Worcester, Shrewsbury, and Holden more confident in their smiles for decades. As a mercury and fluoride free and multi-lingual practice, we strive to create a comfortable environment for all of our patients. If you'd like to learn more about how we can help you, schedule an appointment today.

How Do Your Food Choices Affect Your Oral Health?

January 8th, 2019


Unhealthy, sugary foods are easier to access than ever, with sweet treats like sodas, fruit juice, and ice cream available at every drive-thru window. Although convenient, sugary foods and beverages and foods lacking nutrients can take a serious toll on oral health.

Sugar and Tooth Decay

Two people holding ice cream cones

The mouth is home to over 70 different types of bacteria, most of which are naturally occurring and harmless. One type, called Streptococcus mutans, secretes acids when it comes into contact with sugar. That acid attacks teeth for the next 20 minutes or more. Over time, this strips enamel of minerals in a process called demineralization, which can soften the enamel enough to cause cavities and decay. Sugary food isn’t the only cause of tooth decay, but every sugary snack or beverage leaves teeth more vulnerable.

Nutrients and Oral Health

The mouth, like other parts of the body, has its own nutritional needs, especially in young patients. A few nutrients playing important roles in oral health include the following:

  • Calcium, which hardens enamel and promotes strong teeth and jawbones.
  • Vitamin D, which helps in calcium absorption and boosts bone mineral density.
  • Vitamin C, which strengthens gums and soft tissue while protecting against gingivitis and gum disease.
  • Vitamin A, which prevents dry mouth, keeps mucous membranes healthy, and promotes healing and fighting infections.
  • Vitamin K, which supports bone growth and helps shield teeth from acidic substances that cause decay.

A diet lacking these and other essential nutrients can make the mouth more vulnerable to periodontal disease, a serious infection of the gums.

Choosing the Right Foods

Dental patients, especially children, should maintain a balanced diet with foods from each of the major food groups. Snacking should always be limited, but raw veggies, cheese, and plain yogurt are good options when necessary. It's best to choose foods offering plenty of the above nutrients. A few good choices include the following:

  • Milk, cheese, salmon, and leafy greens for calcium.
  • Fatty fish, portobello mushrooms, and orange juice for Vitamin D.
  • Citrus fruits, leafy greens, and potatoes for Vitamin C.
  • Fish, egg yolks, carrots, sweet potatoes, and liver for Vitamin A.
  • Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli for Vitamin K.

Talk to Your Dentist

At your next appointment, spend a few minutes talking with your dentist about your diet to determine if the foods you eat regularly offer the nutrients you need for optimum oral health. Dr. Kozica at Kozica Dental understands the importance of diet when it comes to oral health, and our team can recommend which foods you should eat for a healthy mouth. Request an appointment or call Kozica Dental today at (508) 755-0751.

The Toxic Effects of Mercury Fillings

June 12th, 2018

Mercury is the most poisonous, non-radioactive, naturally occurring substance on earth. Mercury Amalgam dental fillings (i.e., silver fillings) continuously release poisonous mercury vapor, which enters your body and accumulates over time.
A dentist examining a girl's teeth

When mercury accumulates faster than the body can remove it, mercury toxicity occurs. The time it takes for symptoms to appear varies greatly depending on a number of factors. Early symptoms may be sporadic and can include headaches, memory loss, digestive disorders, ringing in the ears, and depression.

Over time, mercury toxicity can affect all our body’s systems. Some people are genetically susceptible to developing chronic neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s. To decrease the possibility of developing severe health issues, it is important to have mercury amalgam fillings removed safely.

Dr. Kozica is SMART-certified (Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique), and he follows protocols established by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT). These techniques prevent you from ingesting or inhaling mercury or mercury vapors.

During amalgam removal, patients will wear protective eyeglasses and body coverings and breathe in air through an oxygen mask, while the teeth are isolated using a rubber dam. Our staff will wear mercury-absorbing masks, the air in the exam room will be filtered to remove harmful mercury vapor, and the amalgam fillings will be removed in chunks, using high-speed drills and suction.

Dr. Kozica and the team at Kozica Dental have been providing dental services to patients in the Worcester area for years. We are SMART-certified to remove toxic mercury fillings for patients of all ages. Call us at (508) 755-0751 or request an appointment now. We look forwarding to working with you!

Reasons for a Regular Dental Visit

April 18th, 2018

Conventional wisdom suggests dental visits once a year, maybe with a cleaning in between. In fact, for optimal oral health visiting the dentist, every three to four months is recommended. Staying on a consistent appointment schedule with the dentist can help keep teeth and gums healthy and identify potential problems before they worsen.

Ward off Serious Problems

A man getting his teeth examined at the dentist

Tooth and gum diseases tend to have a gradual onset, which means the early signs may be evident to a dentist. Finding these problems early prevents them from causing serious damage to the mouth. Early detection often limits the amount of treatment needed and thus lowers the cost. Early detection is not limited to oral health problems. Many physical conditions show signs in the mouth, including osteoporosis and nutritional deficiencies. The dentist can detect these symptoms and help the patient take steps to correct the problem.

Create Healthy Habits

Getting into the routine of seeing the dentist regularly helps make it a habit. If dental check-ups are not part of a quarterly schedule, it's easy for them to fall by the wayside, especially with the bustle of modern life. Months can pass without a dentist visit, which is plenty of time for gum disease and cavities to develop. Even those who brush and floss after every meal as directed can experience these issues; tobacco, coffee, and sugar consumption all play a role, as does heredity. Tobacco use can lead to gum disease and even oral cancer. Coffee and sugary foods and beverages contain acids that damage and erode the enamel of the teeth, making it easier for bacteria to cause cavities. Those with a strong family history of tooth decay and other oral health problems have a higher risk of developing these problems themselves.

Receive Continuous Treatment

Many dental issues take more than one visit to resolve. Having a regular appointment can protect the continuity of the care plan by allowing the dentist to monitor the progress of treatment carefully and make adjustments as needed. This is particularly important for patients having a root canal, oral surgery, or a cosmetic dentistry procedure. If issues aren't present, a deep cleaning from the dentist every few months keeps the teeth and gums in tip-top shape, saving time and money in the long run. They can remove plaque and tartar that are resistant to brushing and flossing alone.

For preventive dental care in the Worcester, MA area, consider Kozica Dental. We have proudly served the community for more than 25 years, providing treatment using only BPA-free and mercury-free materials. Dr. Kozica is committed to offering preventive treatments, cosmetic procedures, emergency care, and treatment for oral health issues such as gingivitis and TMJ. Services at Kozica Dental are available in English, Spanish, and Lithuanian. Call us at (508) 755-0751 or request an appointment online today.

The Sweet Truth: Cause of Cavities

February 19th, 2018

Everyone grew up with the idea that sugar causes cavities. But is sugar really the cause of tooth decay? Not exactly. Sugar consumption can lead to the formation of cavities, but sugar itself doesn’t cause them. Once the science behind cavity formation is understood, it’s easy to see why it can be more harmful to eat a few small pieces of candy throughout the day than to eat a large candy bar in one sitting.

The Real Culprit Behind Tooth Decay

A girl getting her teeth examined at the dentist

It’s not the sugar itself, but rather the debris left behind in the mouth after eating sugar that leads to decay. Bacteria in the mouth digest the sugar that’s left behind after eating that cookie (or even from healthy foods). The bacteria produce an acid that works with saliva to form plaque on the teeth, and that plaque is what builds up, leading to tooth decay if it isn’t brushed away quickly. As plaque builds on the teeth, it wears down the enamel, leaving behind tiny holes on the tooth’s surface. As the bacteria and acid continue to eat through the tooth, eventually they reach the pulp, which contains the nerves and blood vessels. Once a cavity gets this deep, the person starts experiencing severe pain and sensitivity.

Preventive Measures

The easiest way to avoid tooth decay is to prevent plaque in the first place.

  • Avoid plaque buildup by eating fibrous fruit, yogurt, and sugarless candy. Even hard candy and breath mints get stuck between teeth, so only sugarless should be chosen. Fruit and yogurt are easy to wash away with saliva alone, making them better on the teeth.
  • Put back the snacks. Eating throughout the day restarts the plaque buildup. More debris is added to the teeth with each bite. So eating one piece of candy adds debris to the teeth that the saliva attempts to wash away in the next 30 minutes. But eating a second piece an hour later restarts the whole process, making snacking worse than eating one large snack or piece of candy at once.
  • Avoid acidic foods like sodas and even certain citrus fruit unless teeth can be brushed immediately after. Instead, try a black or green tea, which can help suppress harmful bacteria to prevent decay.

Improving one's oral health is the best way to prevent cavities. Teeth should be brushed with fluoride toothpaste and flossed daily, and regular appointments and cleanings should be scheduled with a dentist. Depending on a person’s teeth, a dentist may also suggest fluoride treatments or tablets to strengthen teeth and prevent decay.

Are you feeling tooth pain or worried about a potential cavity? Contact Kozica Dental to schedule an appointment in the Worcester area today!

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