What is a occlusal guard and do you need one?


Odds are great, that indeed you do need a custom occlusal guard. We seem to be replacing dental decay with broken teeth as the leading problem in dentistry. Improved education, access to healthcare, utilization of fluoride and an increased value placed on attractive, healthy teeth are all playing a role in drastically reducing the rate of dental decay, or cavities. At the same time, increased stress appears to be increasing the number of people we see with evidence of premature wear on their teeth.  When you come in for an exam, we evaluate your teeth to see how much of your tooth’s enamel is missing and if you have any evidence that your teeth are beginning to crack so we can determine your risk of breaking your teeth. Although it is not yet the number one problem we treat, it is quickly becoming one of the most common problems we see.

Enamel is the hardest substance in our entire body. It is expected that one will lose approximately one millimeter of enamel every 100 years with normal wear and tear. Clenching your teeth and/or grinding, or bruxism, is the cause of abnormal wear to your teeth. Either or both of these habits can occur when awake or asleep and can happen consciously, although, most often it is an unconscious tendency. Many times patients are unaware of these habits until we show them the destruction in their mouth and explain to them how it happens. Although we are unable to “cure” clenching or bruxism, we can create a protective guard you wear to prevent additional destruction. Our goal is to catch it early before there is significant wear or breakage. This habit has the potential to destroy teeth to the extent that very little tooth structure is visible in the mouth and chewing becomes impossible. If left untreated for long enough for this scenario to develop, we may only be able to extract the remaining roots and provide dentures. It is far preferable to seek treatment before there are so few options available.
Headaches, TMD and sore jaws
Not only does clenching or grinding destroy our teeth, it also can cause headaches, create or exacerbate temporomandibular joint disorder and can make us wake up with a very tight or tired jaw. We have extremely powerful jaws so that we are able to eat a wide variety of foods. However, if these muscles and joints are working when we are not eating, we can begin to have undesirable side effects from this unhealthy habit.
Causes of Worn Teeth:

– Parafunctional habits: bruxism (grinding), clenching, or object biting (ice, nails, pens).  These can occur for a number of reasons, including:

Medications: levodopa, fluoxetine, lithium, citalopram, etc.
– Bite interference due to:
Natural tooth position
Restorations that are “high” or unpolished porcelain rubbing against natural tooth structure.
Shifting tooth position from periodontal disease
– Missing teeth – spaces in your dentition will put more pressure than normal on the remaining teeth. This is most noticeable with your molars and other posterior teeth.
– Diet
Nuts, ice
Excessive gum chewing

– Systemic/Neurological
Sleep apnea
Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease
Down syndrome
– Developmental dental defects –enamel is thin or weak

Occlusal guards

An occlusal guard is a clear, rigid oral appliance that fits snugly on your top teeth and feels similar to an orthodontic retainer. Most often, it is worn only at night as this is usually when most clenching and bruxism happens. The process of creating an occlusal guard for you is a fairly simple process. We take an impression of your upper and lower teeth for our laboratory specialist to create the custom fitted guard specifically for you. When we receive the guard back from our lab, you have a brief appointment with Dr. Villalobos to make any necessary modifications to the device. It is important to note that attempting to address this problem with an over-the-counter mouth guard can actually create more problems than it will solve. Therefore, we do not recommend you use this type of mouth guard. When you receive your occlusal guard, there may be an adjustment period when you begin to sleep with the guard since it prevents you from unconsciously doing what your brain has developed a habit of doing. Persistence is important during this time and many patients ultimately report that they feel strange if they try to sleep without wearing it once they do make that adjustment.
An investment in your health
Although many insurance companies do not provide coverage for this type of device, some will if we find evidence of premature wear to your teeth. Even if you do not have coverage, the cost of the occlusal guard is less than half the cost of one crown and less than 1/8th the cost of one implant. We think that you’ll agree that this is money well spent in a time when we are literally breaking our teeth while we sleep.
 Proper care
If you do choose to invest in protecting your teeth in this way, please take note that our pets love to chew up these guards at an alarmingly high rate. If this happens, it will almost certainly be the most expensive chew toy you ever provided for your pet. Please keep the guards tightly shut in the case provided and have a designated storage site that your pet cannot reach. It is recommended that you brush the outside and inside of the guard with a soft toothbrush and water every time you take it out of your mouth. Please don’t soak the guard in any solutions or use toothpaste on your toothbrush during cleaning. If brushed thoroughly with water after ever use, there is no need for any additional care. If you know or suspect you have excessive wear on your teeth, please contact us so we can help you preserve your teeth.

What causes tooth pain?

Tooth pain can range from a mild, dull pain to a sharp, shooting attack. No matter how it feels, the underlying mechanism which causes the pain is the same. Tooth pain occurs when the nerve endings contained within the pulp of the tooth are stimulated by an outside source. The pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t as it should be, and that you need to see a dentist. Below is a rundown of the main causes of tooth pain.

Dental Cavities

Dental cavities are one of the leading causes of tooth pain. Cavities occur when food particles become trapped in the mouth. Bacteria feed upon this food and produce an acid, which damages the protective enamel on teeth.

Gum Recession

Gum recession is caused when the gum tissue which surrounds the teeth pulls back or wears away, exposing the tooth. Gum recession is most commonly caused by periodontal disease, an infection which damages the gum tissue which supports your teeth. It can also be caused by brushing your teeth too vigorously, which also damages the gums. This can allow pockets to form between the gum and the teeth, which are the perfect place for bacteria to grow. The bacteria attack the tooth which leads to tooth pain.

Recent Dental Work

If you have recently had dental work carried out on your teeth, it may have caused them to become sensitized. This normally subsides after a few weeks, and your teeth should return to their normal state as they heal.

Acid Reflux

If you suffer from acid reflux, you may be at particular risk of tooth pain. The acid from your stomach can accelerate tooth decay, leading to an increased occurrence of pain.


An abscess is caused by an infection in the mouth, throat or jaw. Abscesses are normally the result of an infected tooth or poor dental health. They can also occur when dental work already carried out begins to fail. Under these conditions, bacteria thrive, leading to inflammation and the formation of pus, as your body tries to fight the infection.

Referred Pain

Sometimes the source of the pain will be another tooth or another area of the head, neck or jaw. For example, if you have an infected sinus, the pain may radiate into your mouth and feel like it is occurring in a tooth. When this is the case, your dentist will describe the problem as ‘referred pain’. You may be given an x-ray to confirm the true source of your discomfort.

Chip, Crack or Fracture

As you bite and chew, your teeth may become weakened. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching may also contribute to causing chips, cracks or fractures to your teeth. When your teeth suffer damage such as this, it can expose nerve endings which are trigged when exposed to hot or cold temperatures or foods.

If you experience tooth pain, you should book an appointment to see a dental health professional to have to checked out. Tooth pain rarely goes away by itself.

What to know about wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are the final teeth to arrive, erupting right at the back of the mouth anytime from your late teens to your early to mid twenties. For most people, wisdom teeth don’t cause any major problems when they arrive, aside from a little pain and discomfort. However, for others they can cause complications.

Ancient Teeth

Wisdom teeth are believed to be something left over from the early days of human evolution, when people would have eaten a primitive diet contain raw and tough foods. The modern human skull has a smaller jaw compared to its ancestors, and so sometimes people can have problems with space when wisdom teeth arrive.


Because of the lack of space, wisdom teeth will sometimes become misaligned, protruding at odd angles into the mouth, gums or other teeth. Poorly aligned teeth can lead to pain and damage in neighboring teeth, nerves or jaw bone.

Impacted Teeth

Wisdom teeth can also become impacted. An impacted tooth doesn’t fully break through the gum into the mouth. This encourages the growth of bacteria around the wisdom tooth, which can lead to infection, swelling, and pain. Because it can be hard to reach an impacted tooth with a toothbrush, they are also more likely to be prone to gum disease and tooth decay.

Wisdom Teeth Removal

If you are having problems with your wisdom teeth, you should see a dental health professional. Your dentist will assess you and may also conduct an x-ray to look for signs of impacted teeth. The most common form of treatment is the removal of the wisdom teeth. Before the teeth are removed, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area, and may offer an oral sedative if you are feeling anxious.

Recovery from Wisdom Teeth Extraction

After you have had your wisdom teeth extracted you will experience a recovery period as your body reacts and heals. You may experience:

  • Bleeding. For a few hours after the extraction, you may experience light bleeding in your mouth. This can be easily controlled using clean gauze.
  • Facial Swelling. Some swelling around the area where the tooth was extracted is normal. To combat swelling, wrap a piece of ice in a towel, and apply it to the swollen area for 10 minutes. Repeat this a couple of times an hour as needed.

Food and Drink

You should avoid food until the numbness from the pain relief has worn off. You should then only eat soft foods for the next few days, to avoid damaging your gum as it heals. Avoid hot drinks as these can cause complications. You should continue to gently brush your teeth, avoiding the extraction area for the first 24 hours. It may take a few weeks for your mouth to fully heal, but the outlook is generally good once this procedure has been performed.

If you are suffering from pain or discomfort due to your wisdom teeth, you should book an appointment with a dental health professional.

Are X-Rays At Your Dentist Safe?

digital dental xrays

One of the most powerful tools your dentist has to help diagnose and treat dental health issues is the use of x-rays. Dental x-rays let your dentist see what’s going on, not only on the surface of your teeth but inside them, as well as inside the gum and jawbone areas to help determine a tooth’s growth and progression as well as overall health.

Traditional dental x-rays were performed by your dentist or dental technician using a special film that reacted to the x-rays passing through your teeth and gums; today’s digital radiography uses a sensor to capture images in much the same way, but without the wait for the film to be developed. In addition, modern digital radiography procedures use considerably less radiation — as little as 10% of the amount used to create x-ray images with traditional film procedures.

Obviously less radiation is better than more — although for most patients who were getting x-rays at most twice a year, there was never in any danger from developing radiation-related problems even with the film-based x-rays. But for patients who need more imagery because of particular conditions or procedures they are undergoing, having 1/10th the amount of radiation involved is of course a good thing.

In addition, today’s digital radiography images are of considerably higher resolution; they can be easily manipulated by your technician or dentist on their computer, as well, allowing them to change lighting and contrast in ways that help them diagnose small problems well in advance of them becoming big ones — the proverbial “stitch in time” that can keep dental issues from becoming worse. X-rays are important to your dental health, and today’s modern digital imagery gives your dentist a better tool than ever before to help keep your teeth at their best.

Shockingly Sugary Foods And Some Alternatives

sugary foods

Everyone knows that cakes and soda are full of sugar, but there are also a host of foods that look innocent, which in fact contain massive amounts of ‘stealth sugar’, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Below is a selection of foods that are often shockingly sugary – and some alternatives you can use to sweeten your meals.

Pasta Sauce

While pasta sauce bought from the supermarket might taste savory, on average, a half-cup serving of it will contain anywhere between 6 and 12 grams. To avoid this you should take the time to make your own sauce, using freshly chopped tomatoes, olive oil and herbs.

Salad Dressing

It’s very clear that eating salad is a healthy thing to do. However, when you cover your salad in shop bought salad dressing, you are also covering it in sugar. Two tablespoons of salad dressing can contain up to 7 grams of sugar. To avoid this, you can make your own salad dressing using vinegar, lemon juice, herbs and olive oil.

Iced Tea

When buying bottled iced tea, you should carefully check the label. The sugar levels can vary widely depending on the brand. Some are virtually sugar free, while others can contain up to 32 grams of sugar in every bottle – which is like eating 8 teaspoons of sugar every time you drink one!


Before you cover your fries in ketchup, you should consider that every squirt adds around 4 grams, or one teaspoon, of sugar to your meal. You could consider using yellow mustard instead, which contains only one gram of sugar per squirt on average.

Energy Drinks

Many people think that the thing that gives them a buzz when they have an energy drink is the caffeine. However, that rush also comes from the massive hit of sugar each drink gives you. On average, an 8 ounce serving of energy drink will contain around 25 grams of sugar, which is more than your daily recommended intake. You can avoid this by drinking unsweetened tea or coffee instead.


Coleslaw can seem like a very healthy dish to have on the side of a meal, but most fast-food coleslaw will contain up to 15 grams of sugar. Avoid the coleslaw when eating out, and make your own low sugar homemade coleslaw using vinegar, mayonnaise, garlic powder, white cabbage and carrot.


While yogurt is full of calcium and protein, it can also contain a lot of sugar. An average serving of sweetened and flavored yogurts can contain between 17 and 33 grams of sugar. To avoid this, buy plain Greek yogurt and add chopped fruit.

Instant Oatmeal

Oatmeal can make a great breakfast that is full of fiber, but a serving of instant oatmeal from a packet usually contains between 10 and 15 grams of sugar. Instead, you can buy your own oats to prepare at home using milk or water, adding fruit to flavor it.

Keeping the amount of sugar you consume down is a major part of the battle for healthy teeth and gums.

Bleeding Gums When You Brush?

If you have ever been brushing your teeth and noticed blood in the sink, the chances are it came from bleeding gums. While it can seem like a minor irritation, bleeding gums can be a signal that your oral health is not as good as it could be. Below we look at what causes bleeding gums, and the action you should take to combat this problem.

Gum Disease

Bleeding gums are often a sign of gingivitis or gum disease. Gingivitis occurs when the gums become inflamed by a bacterial infection. If gingivitis is left untreated it can progress to a more serious infection called periodontitis. Periodontitis and gingivitis are one of the major causes of adult tooth loss.

The Cause of Gingivitis

Because your gums attach to your teeth below the visible edge of the gum, this creates a space called a sulcus. Food and other debris can become trapped in the sulcus, and can cause infected gums.

If plaque which builds up on teeth is not removed it will harden into tartar. When this extends below your gum line, it can lead to an infection, and damage to the tissue and bone which support your teeth. If this is left untreated can cause the teeth to separate from the gums. Eventually, the tooth may fall out, or need to be removed by your dentist.

Risk Factors

Below are some risk factors which increase the chance of gingivitis:

  • Diabetes
  • Medications (such as oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants and steroids)
  • Broken Fillings
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Crooked Teeth


The treatment of gingivitis involves maintaining good oral hygiene over an extended period of time. Depending on how far the gum disease has progressed, your dentist may also use other treatments to get the condition under control.


Your dentist may perform a deep clean of your teeth to remove any build up of tartar above and below the gum line. This can be carried out using scaling and root planing to smooth or remove infected parts of the teeth.


Your dentist may also prescribe medication to help to treat gingivitis by killing bacteria in the mouth. This will normally be in the form of oral antibiotics or an antibiotic mouthwash.


In advanced cases, your dentist may recommend surgery to treat gum disease and save teeth. There are two forms of surgery which are normally used to combat gum disease:

1. Flap surgery. During this procedure the gums will be lifted back so plaque and tartar can be removed. The gums will then be sutured to close the gap between the tooth and gum.

2. Bone and tissue grafts. This procedure is used when the teeth and jaw are damaged to a point that they will not heal.


If left untreated, in the long term, gingivitis is associated with other health problems such as heart attack, lung disease, diabetes and stroke. So, if you notice any blood when you brush, make an appointment for a check up with your dentist and beat this problem before it beats you!

10 Most Common Causes of Tooth Decay and Cavities

You attend your bi-yearly dentist visit and are told you have a cavity. Your surprise is evident, as you have never had one before and can’t figure out why. Thinking it is simply a fluke, you continue on as before and attend your next visit. Another cavity has appeared. What has happened and what can you do to stop more cavities from forming?

Stopping the Decay

The first thing you need to do is get the current cavities filled. Leaving them untreated leaves you open for the decay to spread to other teeth. Once this is done, you need to examine your life and look for something that may have changed over the past year.

Here are some of the most likely causes of cavities suddenly occurring:

  1. Brushing Too Much Brushing too often can create damage to the enamel on your teeth. Once the enamel is damaged, decay can set in quickly.
  2. Not Brushing/Flossing Correctly Not brushing the proper length of time or in the correct manner can see you missing spots. Not flossing can see bits of food left behind to create decay.
  3. Exercising More Exercising causes a dry mouth. Teeth are more likely to decay when there is no saliva to help wash away impurities.
  4. Cold or Flu Again, a prolonged period when your mouth is dry, as can be caused by medications. Dry mouth leads to many dental issues that cause tooth decay.
  5. Receding Gums This can cause your tooth roots to be exposed to bacteria. As roots don’t have protective enamel covering, they become more susceptible to decay.
  6. Chemotherapy The drugs used in chemotherapy can result in a dry mouth, which causes tooth decay and cavities over time.
  7. More Acidic Foods Many common foods that you eat daily contain acid. Acidic foods, such as fruits and juices can damage tooth enamel.
  8. Increased Sugar Intake Sugar hides in many forms in products you may not expect. The bacteria start feeding on sugar producing damaging acids that result in plaque formation.
  9. Braces It becomes harder to brush and floss your teeth with braces. These can make it difficult to reach all the crevices between teeth.
  10. Stress can lower your immune system and cause many other body changes. It can also cause you to forget normal routines like regular brushing or see you eating more comfort foods containing sugar.

It’s important to avoid these common causes of cavities to get a healthy mouth. Visiting your dentist on a regular basis prevents many dental issues. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Al Villalobos , a dentist in Jupiter and prevent tooth decay.

What is Dental Bonding?

Discover how this simple and painless procedure can fix minor dental issues.

Nothing is more attractive than a healthy smile. And if you have a beautiful smile then you’re more likely to show it off. And, as we all know, smiling can certainly boost your mood, alleviate stress and rev up your immune system. Enjoy all the benefits that smiling affords you by visiting your Jupiter FL dentist Dr. Villalobos and finding out more about dental bonding.

About Dental Bonding

Whenever possible your Jupiter, FL cosmetic dentist believes that conservative cosmetic treatments are the best options for enhancing smiles. Dental bonding can be an ideal option for those looking to fix small imperfections and to improve smile aesthetics.

Bonding is a cosmetic treatment that uses either tooth-colored plastic or composite resin to apply to certain issues like discolorations, chips, cracks, unevenness or gaps between teeth. Instead of opting for more invasive procedures like dental veneers or crowns, bonding can easily make over a smile without any tooth preparation or irreversible changes.

The Benefits

This is a fast and completely painless procedure that often takes less than an hour to complete. It doesn’t require any removal of your tooth’s structure like other cosmetic procedures and won’t require anesthesia. Plus, the procedure is one of the most inexpensive cosmetic options.

The bonding resin is also matched to the rest of your teeth so you’ll get a flawless, even smile every time.

Getting Dental Bonding

Before you get bonding in Jupiter, FL we will need to thoroughly clean your teeth beforehand. Once clean, we will apply a solution over your teeth to help improve how the resin bonds with the tooth.

The resin is then applied in several layers. With each layer, we will sculpt the resin to the proper shape and then harden it with a special dental light.

Caring for Your Bonded Teeth

If you want your bonded smile to last you’ll want to care for your smile properly. This means maintaining good oral hygiene, particularly if you consume coffee, tea and other foods and drinks that could stain your bonded tooth. Keep in mind that bonding won’t last as long as other cosmetic options and may either need to be repaired or replaced every five to 10 years.

If you are looking for a fast and affordable way to improve the look of your smile then it’s time to find out if bonding is the right option for you. Schedule an appointment today at our Jupiter, FL dental office. Let Villalobos, DMD give you a smile to be proud of.

Perio Maintenance Explained

Perio Maintenance: What Does It Mean?

“What is the difference between a regular cleaning and perio maintenance?” a routine question encountered by almost every dental professional.  This post will attempt to explain the differences and reasoning behind the differentiation.

There are two kinds of routine dental cleanings, a regular cleaning and a periodontal maintenance cleaning.  Regular cleanings are designed to assist healthy mouths by removing stains and tartar that can only be removed by a dental professional.  Perio maintenance appointments are designed for patients that have been treated for periodontal (gum) disease.  The reason for this deeper cleaning has its roots in what we know about gum disease.

Gum disease (periodontal disease) is a persistent bacterial infection around the gums and bone that support your teeth.  Any of the following signs may be an indication that you have an infection:

·         Red, swollen, and tender gums

·         Gums that bleed after brushing or flossing

·         Persistent bad breath

·         Pain while chewing

·         Loose teeth

Gum disease can be caused by a number of factors including smoking, non-smoke tobacco, some RX and OTC medications, genetics, diabetes, hormonal changes in girls/women, and diabetes.

Our hygienists can assess your tissue for periodontal disease by performing a quick, relatively painless test to measure the size and depth of the pockets in the gums.  Pockets that are 5mm or more in depth generally indicate an infection.

If, after an exam, it is determined that you have gum disease you may need a special cleaning called “scaling and root planing”, or possibly periodontal surgery.  After those initial treatments the type of routine cleanings that are recommended are called periodontal maintenance therapy.  The purpose of these special cleanings is to preserve the progress that you have made.

Once periodontal disease is brought under control with treatment, it is very important that you get periodontal maintenance care on a regular basis from your dentist, hygienist, or periodontist (a dentist with a specialty in treating gum disease).  Cleaning your mouth daily at home is a must, but it is not enough to keep periodontal disease in check.  A normal cleaning removes stains and tartar from the surface of teeth that could not be removed otherwise.  Patients with gum disease however have developed pockets in the gum surrounding their teeth, these pockets can fill with plaque and tartar, and require a deeper cleaning in order to remove and halt the effects of that buildup on the health of your gums.

Periodontal disease is a condition (like Diabetes or High Blood Pressure), this means it cannot be completely cured, but it can be managed.

If you are concerned about the health of your gums, or just overdue for your bi-annual cleaning please give us a call 561 744 0677 to schedule a consultation today!

Dental Habits that are Surprisingly Bad for Teeth

You may think that you’re taking the best possible care of your teeth.  Perhaps you visit your dentist twice each year for an examination and cleaning.  You may avoid enamel damaging foods or drinks and brush and floss regularly.  Yet, there are likely some dental habits you still have that you weren’t even aware could damage your pearly whites.  Even products specifically designed for the health of teeth and gums can have a much different effect if used improperly.

Below, you’ll find four of the most common dental habits that may also be wreaking havoc on your oral health.  Fortunately, most of these require only a small change on your part in order to prevent future damage, and by making some simple adjustments, you can feel completely confident in your smile!


Brushing Incorrectly – Brushing twice daily is the single most important step in maintaining oral health and hygiene.  However, brushing incorrectly can be harmful and may not effectively ward off issues such as bad breath and tooth decay.

What Should You Do? – Take care not to brush too vigorously, and use proper form.  Rather than using back and forth strokes, brush teeth in a gentle, circular motion to preserve the base of the tooth and gum line.  Additionally, you should take care to ensure that you are focusing adequate time on all areas of the mouth.  Do this by dividing the mouth into four sections and brushing each for 30 seconds.  Finish up by scraping your tongue and rinsing with cool water.


Using the Wrong Toothbrush – Just as brushing too forcefully can be harmful to teeth, using the wrong kind of toothbrush may be as well.  Furthermore, not replacing your toothbrush frequently enough may result in exposure to any number of harmful bacteria.

What Should You Do? – Choose a soft or extra soft toothbrush that will clean effectively without being unnecessarily abrasive to your teeth and gums, and find one with a smaller head to make cleaning in difficult to reach places easier.  You should also replace your toothbrush about every three months to ensure that it remains sanitary.


Using Toothpicks – Toothpicks can be an effective tool for removing food from between teeth after a meal.  However, it’s also easy to use these too aggressively, resulting in gum damage.

What Should You Do?Carry dental floss with you as an alternative to toothpicks after eating.  Floss will efficiently remove any particles stuck between teeth and is less likely to result in damage.  If you do decide to use a toothpick, do so by holding it lightly, thereby preventing your ability to use it too forcefully.


Whitening With Baking Soda – It’s an old trick that many people have tried at some time or another, and while it can be effective, baking soda can also be abrasive on tooth enamel.  Using this trick too often can have adverse side effects.

What Should You Do? –  If you must use baking soda, do so sparingly.  However, ADA recommended toothpastes and professional whitening treatments are a preferable means by which to keep your smile bright.


Keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible not only requires proper oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing, but it also calls for avoiding potentially harmful practices.  Habits such as smoking and drinking coffee are well known culprits of some common dental concerns.  However, as these examples show, there are some recommended practices which can also be damaging when not performed correctly.

Ask your dentist for his or her advice on best practices for keeping your smile healthy, and be sure to visit them at least twice a year.  If you are in the Jupiter area, contact Dr. Al Villalobos to schedule a consultation to address any concerns that you may have.  Simply click here, or call us directly at (561) 744-0677