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By John Baron DDS
April 14, 2022
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry
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It’s estimated that up to four million people at any one time are wearing braces in the United States and Canada. But Dr. John Baron and our team in Santa Cruz, CA, know that braces have come a long way from the early days of orthodontics, so much so that these days, options are available that are not visible to onlookers. The most popular of these “invisible” braces is Invisalign. Here’s a list of FAQs regarding Invisalign: 

Are they really invisible? 

Yes, the clear liners are virtually invisible, so they enable patients to feel good about themselves and their appearance while getting the orthodontic treatment they need. 

Are there wires, rubber bands, and brackets with Invisalign? 

Nope. Invisalign is truly an alternative to conventional braces. The treatment consists of clear liners that can easily be removed and cleaned throughout the day. There are no wires, so there’s less poking and mouth irritation compared to braces. There’s also no wire tightening at adjustment appointments, so patients don’t have to worry about a sore mouth in the days that follow in-office visits. 

I’ve heard that if I get braces, I won’t be able to eat certain foods like popcorn and hard candy. Is this true with Invisalign too? 

No. With Invisalign, there are no food restrictions. You simply remove your aligners when you’re eating, and replace them after you’ve finished and brushed any leftover food particles away. 

Does Invisalign cost more than braces? 

While overall cost varies on a patient-by-patient basis and is based largely on the level of treatment, Invisalign costs about the same as traditional braces, which makes this treatment option a truly affordable alternative. 

How does brushing compare with conventional braces? 

Brushing your teeth while wearing conventional braces takes some getting used to. Patients have to brush around the metal brackets and floss with a specialty tool to get into the hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. By contrast, Invisalign can be removed at any time to permit regular brushing and flossing. 

Every patient is different and Invisalign might not be the best course of orthodontic treatment for everyone, but it's an option that's gaining more and more popularity, and it's an orthodontic alternative that doesn't sacrifice comfort and convenience for results. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, please give Dr. John Baron and our team in Santa Cruz, CA, a call at 831-426-9200.

August 15, 2013
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What is a Crown and why a Crown instead of a Filling?

A crown is a replacement for the visible part of a tooth.  If a tooth has been compromised and has a lot of it missing, then a crown can be placed on the remaining tooth structure to prevent future damage and the tooth is restored to its original shape and appearance.  If there is a significant tooth crack, it may be suggested to do a crown so this crack cannot extend resulting in loss of the tooth. The crown will act like a plaster on a broken arm.

Crowns completely surround the remaining tooth, structurally bracing it, making the tooth crown combination stronger than the damaged tooth on its own.

Teeth may be broken due to being fractured, having dental decay or are just “worn” down. If large fillings are present then a tooth becomes more likely to fracture and a crown may be suggested.

A filling basically fills in a hole that has been made in a tooth after removing decay from it. If the hole is small enough, a filling will suffice to restore it to normal function and appearance.  Although a filling does have limitations, the filling does not really make a tooth stronger.  The tooth must be able to function under normal biting stresses with whatever structural parts of the tooth are left intact.  But, if the size of the filling becomes large, making the tooth more filling than tooth, then the tooth would have more strength and a better long-term prognosis being restored with a crown.  Filling it is like comparing trying to fill an eggshell with cement.     

The Effect of Soda on Your Teeth


Soda can do some remarkable damage to your teeth.  Pop or soda can be a refreshing drink, especially on a hot day.  It’s a staple of barbeques and pizza parties – kids love sodas and some people consume it with every meal.  However, much like anything, too much soda can damage your health.  This delicious drink can bring harm to your body – they add unnecessary calories to your diet and the large amounts of sugar can lead to diabetes.  Some studies even show that consuming as little as one can of soda per day can give you a 48 percent higher chance of a heart attack.

Soda is as corrosive to teeth as drinking battery fluid, and this can occur as soon as the first three minutes of consumption.  This is caused by a combination of mostly three factors, one is the sugar (which is really a minor factor compared to the others) then comes the phosphoric acid present in some sodas and finally the staining effect that they can have on your teeth.

The sugar problem is caused by acid creating bacteria on the surface of your teeth that feed on sugar and use it to create acid, which destroys your teeth.  The sugar in sodas is easily used by the teeth as opposed to the sugars in say, whole grain bread which does not break down in the mouth.

The phosphoric acid is worth avoiding in general.  This is the same substance that dentists use to scour enamel so you know it’s effective in removing it.  Of course it’s not present in the same concentrations as in a dental application but it could be worth avoiding all the same.  Erosion is far more harmful than decay, and can cause hypersensitivity.

Finally comes the cavities and the staining of the teeth.  Sodas add layers of sugars to your teeth that create plaque and offer food for hordes of bacteria that happen to be in your mouth.  Over time this layer can produce a yellowed effect on your teeth that is unsightly and will need to be treated by a dentist.

So what can you do to prevent this?  The most obvious answer is to reduce or altogether stop consuming sodas.  Substitute with fresh juices or just have milk or better yet, water.  Citrus juice should be consumed in moderation, and if possible, in one sitting as the highly acidic nature of these juices can cause harm to teeth.  Energy drinks and power drinks should also be avoided as they can have as much ore even more sugar than soda.

If you do have soda, use a straw to reduce contact with your teeth.  Also rinse out your mouth and teeth with water to wash out the sugars and stop them from wearing away the enamel in your teeth.  Reduce your cavities and stop the erosion of enamel by using toothpaste and mouth rinse with fluoride.

Managing you oral health is important – teeth is one of the few things in the body which cannot regenerate.  Take care of your teeth today. 

Examining the Causes of Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)


When people ask dental professionals about their dental care, many times they have questions about what causes them to have a dry mouth. Indeed, having a dry mouth is a problem that many Americans struggle with today.

It may not seem like such a big deal, but having a dry mouth can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant. Glands in our mouths produce saliva, which is our mouths’ natural lubricant.

Saliva keeps our mouths moist and feeling pleasant, and it is also our mouth’s natural cleaner. Saliva also helps eliminate harmful bacteria from our mouths.

You can see why it is so important for our mouths to be moist and our saliva production to be healthy. Having a dry mouth can also be referred to as xerostomia.

You may be wondering why xerostomia happens to some people and not to others. Xerostomia is often the side effect of a variety of medications.

People taking medications used to treat anxiety, depression, allergies, pain, colds, acne, obesity, epilepsy, diarrhea, nausea, asthma, and Parkinson’s disease often experience dry mouth. Dry mouth can even be a side effect of certain sedatives and muscle relaxants.

Dry mouth can also be a side effect of certain medical conditions or diseases. Conditions like AIDS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, hypertension, mumps, and stroke often plague their victims with a dry mouth along with the other ailments that occur with the condition.

Certain medical treatments can also cause a person to have dry mouth. Special treatments like radiation or chemotherapy treatments are common treatments that often result in a dry mouth.

If you have nerve damage to your head or neck, you may experience a dry mouth as well. Whether your nerve damage comes from injury or surgery, it does not matter; you will still probably experience a dry mouth.

See your dental professional today to get more information and knowledge about what causes dry mouth.  

Santa Cruz Center for Dental Medicine


As a dentist for over thirty years, Dr. John Baron has long cared about the health and appearance of his patients’ mouths.  In recent years his interest has grown to include the relationship of oral health to the general health of the body.  New research strongly supports this connection.  Good oral health can help to prevent premature death and will promote total wellness.

Dr. Baron is part of a group of advanced practitioners that are connecting the dots in health care… and in the process have developed a protocol that integrates the health of the gums with other systemic testing to determine wellness-oriented dental care.  This protocol is almost 100% effective in restoring oral health, and is building a new bridge between the practice of dentistry and medicine. 

“We have always know that protecting the health of the gums will help patients to keep their teeth for life.  Now we understand that unhealthy gum tissue leads to chronic infection and inflammation...  and both are hazardous to our health, and can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and pre-mature and low birth-weight babies…  just to name a few.  This is an unnecessary risk because we now know how to better treat gum disease,” states Dr. Baron

“There is no question that health in the mouth can help extend life.   However, some people have been living with poor oral health for so long that it doesn’t seem as dire to them as it really is.  Three out of four people have some level of chronic gum disease with the bacteria and inflammation that go along with it.  This is an epidemic problem.”

Dr. Baron cares about you and wants to work with you and your physician to extend your life, help you feel better and live a healthier life. 

Santa Cruz Center for Dental Medicine

550 Water Street, Suite L-1

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

(831) 426-9200

June 04, 2013
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Tooth Sensitivity

Some people may have root surface sensitivity on their teeth.  The symptoms may feel like a nerve sensation at or near the gum line.  Some may have this nerve reaction that is triggered by tooth brushing, drinking something cold, eating or drinking something acidic or even breathing in cold air.  To ensure that it is root surface sensitivity and not decay, it is always recommended to check with your dentist or dental hygienist first.

The roots of teeth may have nerve tubules that are exposed on the surface.  These nerve tubules are invisible.  Most of the time the sensitive areas, or exposed nerve tubules, are on the surfaces of roots where the gum has receded.  When touched or triggered there is a pain reaction.

As a dental hygienist, I have learned about various products that are helpful.  Before the teeth are cleaned, I polish the patient’s sensitive teeth with Nupro prophylaxis paste with fluoride and NovaMin (a desensitizer).  It is also recommended that the patient use desensitizing tooth paste or cream at home.  We offer Dr. Collins Restore toothpaste and or MI Paste.  Different active ingredients work well for different people so I recommend that the patient try another product if one fails to provide relief. 

Bleaching Your Teeth

Your pearly whites not so pearly anymore? That can happen to any of us, for any number of reasons. The good news is that you don't have to live with a smile you're less than happy with. Tooth whitening can restore your teeth to their earlier brightness. But given the number of options and the cost and time involved with each one, how do you know which one is right for you?

As we age, the outer layer of enamel on our teeth is worn away, eventually revealing the darker tissue underneath. Our teeth may also become discolored from smoking, from drinking coffee, tea, and wine, and even from taking certain medications as a child such as tetracycline.

Almost everyone wants whiter teeth these days, says Dr. Baron. It's the number one aesthetic concern of my patients, he says.

Ways to Whiten

Tooth whitening can be achieved in two ways. A product can bleach the tooth. That means it actually changes the natural tooth color, usually anywhere from five to seven -- but even up to twelve -- shades brighter, which is how dentists assess tooth color. Bleaching products contain peroxides that help remove both deep and surface stains. The second whitening process uses non-bleaching products that work by physical or chemical action to help remove surface stains only.

Our office can provide you with a tooth-whitening system that you can use at home. At-home products come in a gel form that contains carbamide peroxide; the gel is placed in a custom-fitted mouthguard, created from a mold of your teeth. The bleach trays are usually worn for 2-4 hours per day usually for a couple of weeks. The length of time can range from one week to one month depending on how much whitening you need. This procedure costs around $400 and whitens the teeth four to seven shades.

Try This at Home?

Over-the-counter products are less expensive but will not brighten your teeth as much as professional products. Crest Whitestrips, for example, sell for about $40.  The American Dental Association says the products are safe; the range of whitening power they have, though, is usually just a shade or two.

Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal, but unlike bleaches, don't change the color of your teeth.

How to Decide

•Have your teeth evaluated by your dentist. "It's important to determine whether you're a good candidate for bleaching," says Dr. Baron. "It's not for everyone." In some cases of serious discoloration and pitted teeth, for example, veneers may be more appropriate than bleaching.

•And crowns, bridges, and fillings do not bleach, so you may need to replace dental work to make it blend with the new color of your bleached teeth. Dr. Baron recommends not only a dental exam, but X-rays as well. "Many dental problems are not visible to the naked eye when they're just beginning. Even if a problem -- such as receding gum lines -- is not very far along, the whitening process could cause you a lot of pain."

•Choose a dentist who is qualified and experienced. Not all dentists do bleaching, says Dr. Baron. Cosmetic dentists specialize in "smile solutions," he says.

•There can be side effects. "Occasionally, people experience some sensitivity in their teeth and gums during the bleaching process," says Dr. Baron. A study in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that 50% of people experience temporary tooth sensitivity as a result of home whitening treatment. People with receding gums appear most likely to experience such sensitivity. "The sensitivity usually goes away once the bleaching is stopped though," says Baron.

•Bleaching isn't permanent. "You may need a touch-up every several years. If you smoke and drink a lot of coffee, you may need the touch-up more often," says Baron.

Bleaching is an easy, inexpensive way to brighten your smile.  Call our office today to schedule an appointment to get started on your new, bright smile! 

(831) 426-9200 

March 05, 2013
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Cracked Teeth Can Become a Painful Emergency


Cracked teeth can become a painful emergency if not treated in time.  A cracked tooth is a common problem which frequently begins to appear with people in their 30’s or 40’s, but can occur even earlier.  The main factors that contribute to fractures in teeth are previous large dental restorations, chewing ice or hard foods, a habit of clenching or grinding, weak tooth formation, and normal progressive calcification of teeth with aging.

The important thing to remember is that a fracture usually starts in a tooth vertically from the chewing surface and progresses toward the gum line.  The fracture will keep extending by itself from the hot and cold temperature cycling of food and drinks… much like a cracked windshield continues to crack further from temperature changes.  These fractures may exist and extend without any sensitivity or pain at first.  That is because some people have teeth that are quite insensitive naturally, while other people have teeth that are extremely sensitive.  The fracture line may progress slowly over many months, or quickly over just a few weeks.

However, eventually the fracture, or fractures, will likely cause a large piece of tooth to break off completely, usually causing a significant amount of sensitivity, or even severe pain and pulp damage.

If the fracture is close to the pulp of the tooth a “root canal” may be necessary to save tooth, followed by a crown.  If the fracture extends deep enough below the gum, the tooth may not be savable, and may need to be extracted.  If an extraction is necessary, it is often possible to replace the tooth with either a bridge or an implant and crown.

However, the best option is to try to stop the progression of the fracture early with a crown.  A crown can often strengthen and protect the tooth before a painful emergency occurs.  A thorough dental exam will often reveal teeth that are developing fractures in time to plan appropriate treatment before they become a painful emergency. 

February 14, 2013
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Protecting Your Teeth with a Mouthguard


Mouthguards can get a bad rap.  Many people refuse to wear mouthguards while playing sports because they think that they are dorky or they think that they will get in the way while they are breathing hard. If you are playing a contact sport, it is important that you have a mouthgaurd that you know you will be able to trust.  Not only can your mouthgaurd save you from some serious pain, it can also save you a ton of money.  Getting your teeth fixed after a serious accident can be expensive, time consuming and painful.


So, after you know that you need a mouthguard, it is then important that you choose the right type of mouthguard.  There are three different types of mouthguards, they are…


  1. Custom-fitted mouthguards. We make these mouthguards for you so they fit your mouth like a glove. We will take impressions and ensure that your mouthguard is going to protect all of your teeth.
  2. Stock sizes. These are the mouthguards you can buy at sports stores that are already a specific size. These may not fit your mouth just right, but they will be better than nothing when you are playing.
  3. Boil and bite mouthguards. These are the mouthguards that you put into boiling water to soften them up and then bite down on them. Once you bite down on them, the impression of your teeth will be made in the mouthguard.


Before you head out to the court, the field or even to practice, make sure that your pearly whites are protected.  Find the mouthguard that works the best for you or consult with us to day to make sure that you have a mouthguard that is going to do a great job protecting you. 

Why You Need Your Teeth


Although brushing and flossing your teeth may get monotonous, have you ever taken time to think about how amazing your teeth are? Not many people take time to think about their teeth and what a blessing it is to have teeth. The next time that you are annoyed with brushing and flossing, just think…


  • Your teeth are the reason that you can chew. Just think about how sad it would be if you were not able to chew your favorite food! If you didn’t have teeth, you would not be able to chew your food.
  • Your teeth enable you to speak properly.  Just try to say anything with the “th” or “t” sound in it. Notice how your tongue touches up against your teeth? If you didn’t have teeth, you wouldn’t be able to make the noises that enable you to speak well.
  • Your teeth keep the shape of the lower part of your face. Your teeth affect the length and shape of your face and without teeth, others would be able to tell there was something wrong with your face.
  • Your teeth keep your jaw bones healthy and strong. If your jaw bones didn’t have teeth to support they would shrink and atrophy.


So, even though you may feel like your teeth require a lot of maintenance, just think of everything that they give back to you! When you go to bed tonight, you may have a different attitude about brushing and flossing.  

When Should I be Replacing My Toothbrush?


As dental professionals, we have heard questions about toothbrush brand, longevity, and functionality a lot. Since your toothbrush is your primary instrument of dental care in most cases, these questions are quite relevant and important.


When it comes to the need to replace your toothbrush, you are going to want to look at how weathered it is, as well as how long you have been using it. A lot of people will use the same toothbrush for years at a time, without realizing that they should be replacing it much more often. Ideally, people should be replacing their toothbrushes or toothbrush heads every 3 months.


Since your toothbrush is being used a few times a day throughout this period, it is going to see a lot of wear. The bristles are going to wear out and become less effective, and the possible amount of contaminants present may also increase. Your brush simply loses its edge in functionality after a few months.


Therefore, we encourage people to replace their brushes in accordance with this timetable. However, expectations should always be made for issues that speed up the need to replace a toothbrush. For example if your toothbrush has it bristles visibly damaged or worn, it is a good idea to replace it.


Likewise, if the bristles turn harder and begin drawing blood, you should also replace it. We also would like to remind everyone that if you should knock your toothbrush into the toilet, please replace it. It is a very small investment to make. Toothbrushes are meant to be used, and then disposed of. Anything which occurs to compromise their sanitation or effectiveness should be cause to replace them quickly.


Take the best care possible of your teeth by keeping your brushes fresh. You will be glad that you did! 

Clean Your Tongue for Fresher Breath

Patients frequently ask questions about bad breath, and this is not a simple subject.  There are a number of factors that can contribute to bad breath, such as periodontal (gum) disease, acid reflux, sulfur compounds from some foods, systemic disorders and dental plaque.

However, there is one quick thing that everyone can do in 15 seconds that can contribute to having fresher breath - just clean your tongue.  Dentists and hygienists forget to discuss this as often as we should because it is so simple.  Just as dirt gets down into your carpet and has to be vacuumed, bacteria and microscopic food particles constantly accumulate in the crevices of your tongue.  While millions of bacteria grow on your teeth within hours after brushing and flossing, they are also growing on your tongue and causing odor.

Though you can buy handy tongue scrapers designed just for cleaning your tongue, the reality is that most people are not going to keep one of these around with their tooth brush.

So I recommend that every time you brush your teeth, you spend just 15 seconds more to thoroughly and vigorously scrub the entire top of your tongue.  You will be amazed at how much cleaner your mouth feels, how much fresher your breath is, and how much better you can taste everything that you eat and drink. 

This will make such a difference, that it can quickly become such a habit that you will just do it automatically, and have fresher breath all the time.

November 12, 2012
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Keeping Your Teeth Healthy Through the Holidays


Throughout the last three months of the year it seems like there is ample opportunity to eat foods that can be detrimental to the health of your teeth.  Halloween kicks off the festivities of the end of the year and Halloween is often our biggest offender. Throughout fall and winter it is especially important that you are caring for your teeth and paying attention to their needs.

During this time you will want to start paying particular attention to your hygiene.  You should be brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day.  Brushing in the morning and at night will help get the sugar off of your teeth that you consumed throughout the day.  Being diligent about brushing properly and for a whole two minutes can save your teeth from decay.

Flossing between all of your teeth will also be beneficial for your oral hygiene.  If you have any dental appliances in your mouth, purchase floss that is going to help you get between the teeth that are hard to reach.

When you know that you are taking in more sugar than your teeth are used to, it can be very beneficial to rinse your mouth out after you eat sugars.  As you rinse your mouth out, you can be sure that sugar is not going to be sitting on your teeth throughout the day. Chewing sugarless gum between meals may also help you activate your saliva glands and ensure that sugar is being removed from your teeth.

Enjoy yourself this holiday season but make sure you don’t forget about your teeth! With just a little extra care and thought, you may be able to avoid decay and cavities that you would have otherwise.  

E. John Baron DDS, INC.
550 Water Street, Suite L-1
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 426-9200


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