Your Tongue and Bad Breath | Alhambra Dentist

In traditional Chinese medicine, some doctors can diagnose an issue just by looking at the patterns and colors on the tongue.  Medical doctors and dentists can also tell a lot about your health by looking at your mouth and tongue.

What if you notice your tongue has a white spots?  It could be tongue plaque. Your tongue naturally cleans itself and renews the cells on the surface to get rid of bacteria, dead cells, and debris.  But when someone has tongue plaque, that renewal doesn’t happen and your tongue gets covered in a white film.

This can happen with age, dry mouth, tobacco and alcohol use, and also with fever or illness.  You can clean off tongue plaque by scraping your tongue and using mouthwash.

There are a few other conditions that can cause white spots on your tongue.  If you see separate white spots on your tongue, it could be a sign of a superficial fungal infection, an inflammatory condition, or even early signs of tongue cancer.   It would be best if you see your dentist or doctor when you suspect something is wrong.   Another reason for having white coating on your tongue, is if you’ve been on antibiotics for a while.  Prolonged antibiotic therapy could lead to yeast infection in your mouth that turns your tongue white.  For this reason, doctors will also encourage you take probiotics to replenish the “good” bacteria in your intestines when you are undergoing antibiotic therapy.

healthy tongue should be pink and covered with small, uniform papillae bumps.  When you’re brushing your teeth, it’s a good idea to brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria that might be lingering on the surface. A tongue scraper also does the same thing and is a handy tool to have. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you how to do this if you’re not sure.

Another side effect of having plaque on your tongue would be bad breath which has other causes.  So if you are plagued by bad breath, it could be periodontal (gum) disease.  In this disease, bacteria induces a chronic inflammatory process which, over time, results in loss of bone around the roots of the teeth.  This loss of bone for the most part symptom-free and painless until the advanced stages, when a white coating on the tongue appears, along with bad breath and loose teeth. 

Untreated, periodontal disease is associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis and even Alzheimer’s disease. 

So, if you see white spots, a cream-colored coating or any lesions on your tongue, see your dentist or physician for diagnosis and treatment.

There appears to be more and more medical experiments and studies delving into what in Chinese medicine makes it work, how it works, and why it works.  Maybe Chinese medicine has more to contribute to western medical science than what is known in the public sector.  

If you would like more information about bad breath, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

7 Reasons Why Sugar Is Bad for You | Alhambra Dentist

Refined sugar or added sugar is said to be the most harmful ingredient in the Standard American Diet (SAD).   Its harmful effects on metabolism may be traceable to many other diseases.  Below are 7 of the reasons for you go sugar-free for 2018:

Sugar and your smile. Sugar, as we all know, is bad for your teeth.  What you may not know is that it is also bad for your gums.  Bacteria which cause gum disease and loose teeth can metabolize sugar in its pure form in the mouth, leading to increase in the growth of these germs. Therefore, sugar can cause cavities and loose teeth.

Sugar and liver disease.  Overloading your diet with sugar can cause the liver to overwork to convert sugar into glycogen.  When the saturation is reached, liver is forced to covert glycogen into fat, which in term has deleterious effect on the body.  In more extreme cases of heavy sugar intake, the liver itself can be damaged, leading to fatty liver disease.

Sugar and diabetes.  Excessive intake of sugar can cause insulin resistance.  Insulin is necessary for glucose to enter the cells and be used for energy.  Excessive glucose can cause the cells to become “insulin resistant.”  Be insulin resistant can be the cause of diabetes II, metabolic syndrome, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

Sugar and cancer.  Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells.  Insulin plays a key role in regulating cell growth. Elevated insulin levels because of abnormally high take of sugar can contribute to cancer, according to leading experts.  Additionally, high blood glucose is associated with high levels of inflammation, which also contributes to higher risk of cancer.

Sugar and addiction.  Sugar stimulate the production of dopamine from the “feel-good” center of the brain.  Those who have susceptibility to addiction may become addicted to sugar and junk foods.

Sugar and obesity. Strong links have been found between sugar and obesity.  That is no surprise.  But obesity in children has been found to associated with sugar- sweetened beverages.  There is a 60% chance of obesity in children who consume high amounts of these beverages.

Sugar and heart disease.  Strong links have been shown between sugar and heart disease.  High intake of sugar can lead to rise in triglycerides, LDL, high blood glucose and abdominal obesity, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

So, cutting down or cutting out refined/added sugar in your diet can not only save your teeth, but can save your life.  See your dentist regularly.  Make your goal for 2018 to cut down or cut out added sugar altogether.  Do it now!  You won’t regret it.

If you would like more information about a sugar-free diet, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Conquer Tooth Decay with Sugar? | Alhambra Dentist

Yes! A new kind of sugar, called xylitol, when incorporated into chewing gum, can not only prevent tooth decay, but may also help “re-mineralize” or heal small cavities that have not penetrated the enamel, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). This article states, “The evidence is strong enough to support the regular use of xylitol-sweetened gum as a way to prevent caries, and it can be promoted as a public-health preventive measure.”

To understand how xylitol can prevent tooth decay it is important to understand how cavities are formed. Sugar does not directly cause cavities. Rather, sugar introduced into the mouth is converted into acid by bacteria (e.g., Streptococcus mutans) in dental plaque. The increased acidity of the plaque causes “demineralization” of the enamel, which is the highly mineralized, hard covering layer of the crown of the tooth. The reason xylitol is effective in preventing cavities is that its chemical properties does not allow microorganisms to convert it into acid. Furthermore, unlike common sugars, xylitol does not decrease the pH (increase acidity) in dental plaque that would result in more acid formation. In fact, chewing xylitol gum has been shown in some studies to lower plaque formation. Other studies seem to indicate that regular use of xylitol gum can “re-mineralize” enamel undergoing the initial stages of chemical breakdown.

Xylitol tastes almost the same as sorbitol-sweetened gum (“sugar free gum”). Xylitol, according to the JADA article, is more beneficial “in terms of reducing caries risk than does sorbitol-sweetened gum.” Sorbitol-sweetened gum is a “low cariogenic sweetener” rather than a “non-cariogenic sweetener”, such as xylitol.

Xylitol contains only 2 grams of sugar in two sticks of gum. Substituting some xylitol products in the diet can significantly reduce caloric intake. Consider the fact that the average consumption of all sugar is 141.5 pounds per capita in the U.S. in 2003. Much of the sugar intake has come in the form of sodas and juices, both of which have replaced milk and formula in the diets of infants and young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has strongly opposed the practice of manufacturers of sodas and juices in contracting with school districts for the sole right to stock vending machines in the schools, known as “pouring rights.”

Another interesting discovery is that the regular use of xylitol may interrupt the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child, according to a study from Finland. It was reported that there was a “significant reduction in the colonization of mutans streptococci” in the saliva of the infants in this study which involved 195 mother-infant pairs. The cavity rate of the children in the xylitol group was 70% lower than the other groups.

It is recommended by some dental experts that it is beneficial to have a regimen of chewing xylitol-sweetened gum three to five times a day for minimum of five minutes to inhibit plaque accumulation and chemical breakdown of enamel. In combination with regular home care and visits to the dentist, xylitol can be a beneficial adjunct to maintaining your smile for a lifetime. Check with your dentist as to whether xylitol may be right for you.

If you would like more information about xylitol, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.