Ask the Dentist is a question-and-answer service hosted by Dr. Carey Penrod, DDS.  Submit your question about oral health, dental procedures, cosmetic dentistry, or anything related to dentistry and Dr. Penrod will answer!  (Be sure to read the Ask the Dentist Terms of Service.)

What does a cavity feel like?

young adult girl in dental chairSometimes people feel like they have a cavity when they don’t, and others may have cavities and not even know it! In the earliest stages of a cavity, there may be no symptoms. There are no nerves in your tooth’s enamel, so when the decay is in that layer, it’s likely that you won’t feel a thing. Once the decay has progressed enough to reach the softer tissues inside the tooth, you might experience some symptoms.

  • Your teeth might feel sensitive
  • You might feel some pain after eating sweets, hot foods or cold foods. The pain might be fairly mild or it might be sharp and intense.
  • You may feel pain when you bite down
  • Cavities sometimes create visible holes in the teeth.
  • Cavities may create stains that are black, brown or white on the surface of the tooth.

What should you do if you think you have a cavity? See your dentist! Although cavities can be reversed in the early stages, by the time you are feeling discomfort or pain, only a dentist can treat them. An x-ray will be taken to determine how the cavity has progressed into the tooth. Depending on how severe the cavity is, you might need a filling to fix it. If the decay is very severe, the dentist might replace the tooth with a crown or perform a root canal.

Even if you’re not sure if you have a cavity, regular professional cleaning and dental visits are important. As with many conditions, when it comes to cavities, taking preventative steps is a lot easier than treating the problem down the road.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Has it been a while since your kids have visited our office? February is National Children’s Dental Health Month! The theme this year from the American Dental Association and Crest + Oral-B is “Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile!!” Remember, as soon as two teeth are touching you should be cleaning between your child’s teeth. Come see us, let’s work together to keep your child’s mouth healthy!


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How do I care for my teeth when I’m sick?

1.Choose sugar-free cough drops

2. Swish and spit after vomiting to wash the acid off. Wait about 30 minutes to brush your teeth so you aren’t brushing the acid around.

3. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. If you must reach for tea or sports drinks for electrolytes try to choose sugar free.

Sad woman with tissue and medicines lying on bed

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Is sparkling water bad for my teeth?

1.29 sparkling waterPlain fluoridated water is still the best option, but sparkling is far better than soda or sugary drinks.

Sparkling waters don’t damage your enamel the way sugary drinks do. You should be careful, however, not to drink too much citrus sparkling water. Citrus flavors have a lot more acid which can eventually breakdown your enamel. The ADA recommends not sipping on sparkling waters throughout the day but instead trying to finish it off during mealtime.

Read more here: Mouth Healthy – The Truth about Sparkling Water

Is It Okay for My Child to Drink Water with Fluoride?


Yes! It’s one of the best ways to prevent cavities for children and adults. Rancho Santa Margarita has fluoride in their water which helps strengthen teeth and prevent decay. Fluoridated toothpaste should also be used daily.

A two-year-old had such bad decay and infection that she had to loose her four front teeth, but afterward she gave her hygienist a huge hug! The little girl was finally pain free. Fluoride can help prevent this from happening! Read more about the importance of fluoride here:

How Long Should I Brush My Teeth For?

Here’s an easy way to remember! Brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes. 

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Remember, brushing isn’t the only way to take care of your teeth. Don’t forget to:

  • Floss between your teeth daily. Flossing will remove plaque and leftover food that the toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks in between meals. 
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams. Call us today or you can schedule your cleaning online!

Get your crown done in just one visit!

Get your crown done in just one visit!

Crowns are an integral part of many dental restoration treatments including implants, root canals, or simply covering and strengthening a tooth that’s damaged by trauma or decay, but getting a crown done has traditionally been very inconvenient!

Before now, placing a crown took at least three steps:

1) You needed an appointment to prepare the tooth, make the impression, and place the temporary crown.

2) You needed to wait (possibly two weeks) while your permanent crown was milled (created) at a dental lab, then sent back to us.

3) You needed a SECOND appointment for us to remove the temporary and place your permanent crown.

But now Penrod Dental Care uses CEREC so you can get your permanent crown in just one appointment!

CEREC is new CAD/CAM technology we have here in our office that allows us to mill your new, custom, perfectly crafted permanent crown during ONE VISIT. No need to take more time off work, no temporary crown, and no chance that you may need to be numbed twice.

Here at Penrod Dental Care we make it a priority to provide you—our valued patients and friends—with the best experience possible. One of the ways we achieve that is by keeping ourselves on the leading edge of technology and convenience. So if you’ve been waiting to deal with that crown until it was convenient—it’s time!

Let us know if you have any questions about our CEREC technology and if you know someone who may be interested in one-visit dental crowns as well, let them know about us!


How Can I Get Whiter Teeth?


Feel like your smile is looking a little yellow or missing some sparkle? You aren’t alone! When the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry asked people what they’d most like to improve about their smile the most common response was whiter teeth. Whiter teeth can help you look healthier, younger, and more self-confident.

Whitening your teeth (also called bleaching your teeth) is a pretty simple process. Whitening products contain a type of bleach that helps break stains into smaller pieces, making the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter. There are different types of whitening products, each a different fit for budget and time constraints. Talk to your dentist about the best whitening program for your situation.

  • Whitening toothpastes help remove surface stains (not deeper stains) through the action of scrubbing the teeth with a mild abrasive. Unlike bleaches, these types of products only remove stains on the surface and can’t change the actual color of the teeth.
  • In-Office Bleaching means the dentist will apply protection to your gums, and then put bleach directly on the teeth. A special light might be used to enhance the action of the whitening agent. This is a good option if you need a significantly brighter smile tomorrow.
  • At-home bleaching uses a bleaching gel and trays that are made to fit your teeth. The gel is a lower concentration of bleach than used in an in-office bleaching visit, so this may be a good option if you have sensitive teeth. At-home bleaching can also be done with store-bought trays or strips, but the best option is to get custom-fit trays from your dental office.

Teeth bleaching may not work on teeth that have fillings, crowns, veneers, or other problems. It is always important to talk to your dentist before beginning any bleaching treatments to avoid making discolored spots look worse in comparison.

Although there are rarely side effects of bleaching your teeth, some people do find they feel sensitivity when they whiten their teeth. This happens when the peroxide in the whitener gets through the enamel of the tooth to irritate the nerve of the tooth. This sensitivity is almost always temporary. Talk to your dentist if you feel you need a lower concentration to avoid this problem. Overuse of whiteners can also damage the tooth enamel or gums, so be sure to follow directions and talk to your dentist.

Teeth whitening, or bleaching your teeth, is a simple process that can make a huge difference for your smile. Call our office today to start your path to a whiter, brighter smile!


What are Dental Sealants?

Although thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, sometimes toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves of other teeth to extract food and plaque. Dental sealants are a barrier that helps protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.

Sealants are a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where the grooves and depressions mean decay is most likely. The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth, then hardens. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and may last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary. Regular visits will make sure that they don’t break down without anyone noticing.

The likelihood of developing decay in those deep pits and fissures begins early in life, so typically children and teenagers are the main candidates for sealants. Sealants help protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars may also benefit from sealants. Call us if you have more questions about sealants and the important role they can play in your dental health program.


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Why Do I Have To Wear A Mouthguard?

Why Do I Have To Wear A Mouthguard?

Approximately 15 million children participate in organized sports in the United States, and each season there is a 10% chance that they will receive an injury to the mouth or teeth. For any athlete playing a sport, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age. In fact, studies show that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth if they’re not wearing a mouthguard.

While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, you can experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating. In fact, while most people think of football as one of the most dangerous sports, a basketball player’s risk of orofacial (having to do with the mouth, jaws, and face) injury is 15 times that of a football player!

Boston Celtics forward and team captain Paul Pierce has some personal experience with orofacial injuries: two of his own teeth were broken during a 2002 game against the Phoenix Suns, and during a November 2008 game, Pierce was involved in a loose ball scramble that resulted in Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger losing two teeth (see photo above). In these two instances, neither player was wearing a mouthguard, which meant that both had to spend time and money off the basketball court and in the dental chair to repair the damage.

Mouthguards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. But all mouthguards are not created equal. A custom-fit mouthguard greatly increase the protection through a more form-fitting appliance. The tighter the fit, the less chance the mouthguard will fall out during impact, and the mouthguard can do its job to protect you..

Custom mouthguards spread the force of the blow over all the teeth that are covered by the mouthguard. They stop violent contact of upper and lower teeth. They also keep lips away from misaligned teeth, which protect the lips, teeth and orthodontic treatment (example: braces). Mouthguards always hold the jaws apart to act as shock absorbers and prevents upward and backward displacement of the condyles in their fossae. This alone can help reduce concussions.They also can help cushion a blow that could cause head or neck injuries, injuries to the jaw, or even concussions.

There are three types of mouthguards:

  • Stock These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
  • Boil and bite These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth.
  • Custom-fitted These are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, usually offer the best fit and protection. Like retainers and braces, they also come in more personalized designs (colors, patterns, etc.)

A properly fitted mouthguard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, limiting the risk of soft tissue injuries. A custom-fitted mouthguard is also more comfortable and more likely to be worn. If you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.

For younger athletes it is important to remember that the mouth is still evolving and growing, so it may be necessary to revisit the fit of your mouthguard and make sure it is still offering the best protection possible. Your dentist can help you select a mouthguard that will provide the best protection throughout your athletic career.





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Ask the Dentist

Dr. Penrod answers questions about oral health and cosmetic dentistry


Sometimes people feel like they have a cavity when they don’t, and others may have cavities and not even know it! In the earliest stages of a cavity, there may be no symptoms. There are no nerves in your tooth’s enamel, so when the decay is in that layer, it’s likely that you won’t feel […]

Read More