What We Know—Xylitol Concerns

Based on the current studies released about xylitol sweeteners and their potential heart risks, questions have been raised about the continued use of these products. The research indicates that xylitol, a common sugar substitute found in various products, may be linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular events.

According to a study published in the European Heart Journal, individuals with higher levels of xylitol in their blood may have a significantly higher risk of experiencing heart-related issues. The researchers observed that even those without a history of heart disease who had elevated xylitol levels were more likely to face cardiac events in the future.

Experiments involving mice showed that xylitol could increase blood clotting, which is a concerning factor for heart health. The findings suggest that consuming xylitol as a sugar substitute may adversely affect cardiovascular function and increase the baseline risk of clotting in the blood.

Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance and is commonly used topically in dental products like toothpaste and gum for its oral health benefits.  These preliminary studies seem to point to a more systemic consumption being the source of concern where the amount of xylitol is 10 mg or more.  The average amount of Xylitol in dental products used is typically 50-100 times less than this.  Please note that these are preliminary studies with a small sample size.

Stay informed and prioritize your overall health and well-being when choosing the products you consume, including sugar substitutes like xylitol. Our doctors at Pathway Dental Group always stay on top of new research and are happy to discuss anything regarding your oral health. They will develop a custom plan that is best for your situation.

Contact Pathway Dental Group

Wisdom Teeth Removal Aftercare: Dos and Don’ts for a Quick Recovery

Wisdom teeth removal, a standard dental procedure, often marks a rite of passage for many individuals. However, the journey to recovery begins not at the end of the surgery but with the steps you take following i. Proper aftercare is not just a recommendation but crucial for ensuring a quick and successful recovery. The period following wisdom teeth extraction can be laden with discomfort and uncertainty without the proper preparation, but with the right knowledge and practices, these challenges can be effectively managed. We are here to help you with this!

In this comprehensive guide, we at Pathway Dental Group are committed to providing valuable information and guidance post-surgery. We aim to educate and empower you with the essential do’s and don’ts of aftercare. From managing pain and swelling to navigating dietary changes and oral hygiene, we cover all the aspects to help you heal quickly and efficiently. Whether you’re a patient, a concerned parent, or a caregiver, this blog will be your go-to resource for facilitating a smooth and comfortable recovery journey. It is beneficial if you can plan to have your wisdom teeth removed when it best works with your school and work schedule and before it becomes an emergency! Let’s embark on this path to healing, equipped with knowledge and confidence.

Do’s to Remember for Wisdom Teeth Removal Aftercare

On the day of your surgery, plan on this being a complete rest day. Most surgeries are scheduled first thing in the morning, so our patients can relax in the afternoon and take a long nap!

Most patients are up and about on the second day with reduced activity. Please do not do vigorous exercise or major trips on this day!

We call day three the “danger day” because patients usually start to feel more like themselves and sometimes push it too far. Remember, your body is still recovering from surgery, and it takes time internally for that process to be completed. You will want to plan on going easy at least for a week following your surgery to help aid in your recovery process.

Before Your Scheduled Surgery:

  • Pick up any needed prescriptions and foods for a soft diet so you will have them ready to go upon your arrival home

Do’s for Post-Operative Care (first 7-14 days after surgery):

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Diet of soft foods such as pasta, soups, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and smoothies
  • We recommend a liquid diet the first day until your numbness completely wears off so you do not risk biting yourself.
  • Drink through a cup
  • After 24 hours, you can gently rinse with warm salt water. Allow the water to roll around in your mouth and let gravity take it out for you forceful spitting.
  • When brushing your teeth, do so in the mirror to ensure you are keeping your toothbrush at most minuscule a tooth or two in front of your surgical site.
  • If you want ice to combat swelling, we recommend using a bag of frozen peas or corn. These are often much softer on your face than traditional ice packs or wraps.
  • Take post-op medications as instructed by your doctor

Don’t Remember for Wisdom Teeth Removal Aftercare

  • No vigorous exercises (i.e., anything that increases your heart rate significantly)
  • No foods that have sharp edges or anything with seeds that could travel to your surgery sites
  • No drinking through a straw, smoking, or anything else that creates suction in your mouth
  • No forceful spitting
  • Do not stretch your mouth wide when opening or speaking
  • Please keep any fingers or tools away from your surgical sites
  • Do not discontinue use of medications unless directed by your doctor

If you are concerned about infection, contact the office to evaluate your symptoms, and a post-operative visit can be scheduled as needed. While you should expect some discomfort after your wisdom tooth removal, the following could be signs that something else is going on and needs attention:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Fever
  • The face feels hot to the touch
  • Excessive swelling
  • Excruciating pain that is affecting your ability to function after several days

While most patients are not excited about having their wisdom teeth removed, with the proper preparation and adherence to post-op care instructions, the recovery process does not have to be protracted or take over their lives. The benefits of having your wisdom teeth removed, such as preventing infection, damage to the adjacent teeth, and shifting, far outweigh the short-term recovery process for most of our patients. If you or one of your family members has wisdom teeth needing removal, contact us today to schedule your consultation.

IV Sedation Dentistry What to Expect: Comfort, Safety, & Recovery

IV sedation is used in many areas of medicine to help patients stay comfortable during various procedures, including certain types of dental treatment.

IV sedation makes it easier for your dentist to provide care and keeps you comfortable. Patients tend to feel relaxed and calm, which is also helpful in some instances for dental anxiety.

So, what should you expect from IV sedation dentistry? Keep reading to learn more.

What to Expect with IV Sedation Dentistry: A Guide for Patients

Are you interested in IV sedation for your dental appointments? You are not alone! We offer IV sedation as an option to all our patients in all 3 locations. If you are interested in IV sedation, the first step is to schedule a consultation with one of our IV sedation providers at Pathway Dental Group. From there, they will review your medical history and needed dental treatment to determine what sedation options are best for you.

Benefits of IV sedation

  • Patients remain relaxed throughout their procedure
  • Most patients do not remember anything about their appointment
  • We can complete a larger amount of treatment at one time
  • By combining appointments, you can return to your regular activities sooner
  • This is safer than General Anesthesia since we are not breathing for you

What does the process of IV sedation look like?

After you have an evaluation with one of our IV sedation providers, we will have you complete your pre-operative forms right there at that same appointment, so you do not have to schedule a separate appointment or delay in scheduling your needed treatment any further! We also want to ensure you have all your post-operative instructions to prepare you with any special diet restrictions and medications. We can coordinate who will bring you to your appointment and drive you home afterward. There are no surprises here-we want you to be comfortable with every step!

From there, it is just a matter of scheduling your appointment. We will let you know how long we expect your IV sedation treatment appointment to last so you can also let your ride know in advance. After your appointment, most patients go home and take a nice long nap that afternoon. Once they wake up early in the evening, they have a bite to eat, and most patients are ready to return to work and do everyday activities the next day.

IV sedation is not just for surgical procedures. Many patients opt for IV sedation for general dentistry procedures as well, just for the ease of the appointment and the ability to have more treatment completed at once.

We are proud to be one of the few general dentistry practices in the county to offer this service to our patients at all three of our locations: Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Santa Maria. If you are interested in IV sedation for your next appointment, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our IV sedation providers!

Types of Dentures & How to Choose the Best Option for Your Smile

Forty million people in the US have no natural teeth left. However, this doesn’t mean all these people are walking around with gummy smiles. Many are flashing a healthy, beautiful set of pearly whites thanks to dentures.

There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding dentures — don’t fall for them. Modern dentures are much more durable, natural-looking, and effective than the dentures your grandparents wore!

The problem with missing teeth

Let’s start at the beginning and take a moment to understand why missing teeth are such a big issue. There are the obvious reasons:

  • Inability to chew normally
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Tremendous effect on your appearance

These should be reason enough, but we’ve got you covered if you need more convincing.

Missing teeth spell disaster for your dental health. It doesn’t matter if you’re missing all your teeth or just one — the health implications are the same.

  • Your jawbone beneath the missing tooth will begin to dissolve. This irreversible process is known as resorption, and it will leave your cheeks with a sunken, sucking-on-a-lemon look.
  • Neighboring teeth may begin to shift and reposition, causing pain in your jaw or bite.
  • Your risk of decay and gum disease increases.
  • Empty spaces in your mouth allow bacteria to grow and travel throughout your body.

Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. When your dentist says you need to find a tooth replacement option, they want what is best for your health.

What are dentures?

Dentures are prosthetic devices constructed to replace missing teeth. This tooth replacement option is comprised of artificial teeth and gums and can replace all your teeth on the top and bottom or just a few missing teeth.

The concept of dentures has been around since as early as 2500 BC. People initially made these false, removable teeth from animal teeth. Centuries later, dentures were fashioned from bone, wire, and animal and human teeth.

Over time, dentures underwent various iterations, constructed from materials like wood, repurposed human teeth, ivory, porcelain, plastic, and vulcanite (a hardened rubber). Today, most dentures are made of biocompatible acrylic resin and metal.

Most people consider dentures an unsightly set of removable teeth that could easily fall out of your mouth by accident and are strictly reserved for grandparents. Thanks to advancements in dentistry, this just isn’t true!

Modern dentures aren’t only for seniors and are nothing like what you’re probably envisioning. They allow people of all ages to restore the appearance and functionality of their mouths. Plus, not all dentures are removable. Today, there are many denture designs based on your needs.

Three popular types of dentures

As you’re considering the different styles of dentures below, remember that dentures are an option when:

  • All the teeth in your mouth are missing (called complete dentures)
  • You have some natural teeth remaining and need a few replacement teeth (called partial dentures)

1. Removable dentures

Also called “traditional dentures,” removable dentures are the most simple style of denture available. They are meant to be a simple, non-surgical solution to missing teeth.

Unlike traditional dentures of years past, modern removable dentures from Ericson Dental are crafted using the most advanced techniques to ensure durability and a comfortable fit.

Additionally, special attention is given to the teeth’ shape, color, texture, and placement to ensure a life-like and natural appearance.

Removable dentures allow you to smile confidently and ensure you can continue eating and speaking naturally. However, you should also consider that they do not improve the structural integrity of your jaw and cannot stop bone loss.

2. Implant-retained dentures

This type of denture is held securely in place by dental implants. While these dentures snap in place and won’t slip out while talking or eating, they are technically removable and must be cleaned at night.

One difference between this option and implant-supported dentures is that your gums, rather than the implant, absorb most of the bite impact.

Implant-retained dentures also use fewer implants and can often be placed with mini dental implants. This diminishes or eliminates the need for any bone grafts.

3. Implant-supported dentures

Unlike implant-retained dentures, implant-supported dentures are not removable. This fixed denture stays in your mouth forever and is held in place by several dental implants. The exact number of implants will vary but can be as many as eight.

Additionally, unlike implant-retained dentures, this type is designed to take the full force of your bite, absorbing it evenly through the implant and into your jawbone.

Due to the number of implants required for this type of denture, combined with the implant bearing the full force of your bite, your jawbone and gum tissue must be in good condition before treatment. You may need to undergo bone or soft tissue regeneration to ensure the implant-supported dentures are a success.

Which type of denture is right for you? Let’s chat!

The best type of denture will vary from person to person. Remember, modern-day dentures don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach! There are a few things to consider when finding out which type of denture is right for you:

  • How many teeth do you have missing
  • The health of your gum tissue and jawbone
  • Your age and whole body health
  • Whether or not you want to invest in implants
  • Amount of time you can devote to the maintenance of your dentures
  • How quickly you want to restore your smile

Ultimately, only a highly qualified denture dentist can recommend the best type of denture for your health and smile. To learn more about your options and which type best fits you, contact Pathway Dental Group today.

What to Do If You Chip a Tooth—Immediate Steps and Restorative Options

A chipped tooth can happen to anyone, whether they are enjoying a meal, playing sports, or even just doing household chores. Not only can such an incident cause discomfort, but it can also lead to anxiety about their smile’s appearance and the health of their tooth. At Pathway Dental Group, we understand your concerns and are committed to providing quick and efficient solutions. Here is a detailed guide on what to do when you chip a tooth and the restorative options available.

Immediate Steps to Take After Chipping a Tooth

  1. Rinse Your Mouth: Start by gently rinsing your mouth with warm water. This will help clean the area and remove any food particles that could irritate the tooth further.
  2. Evaluate the Damage: If possible, examine the chipped tooth in a mirror. Understanding the extent of the chip will help you communicate with your dentist.
  3. Manage the Pain: If you have pain, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek near the affected area to reduce swelling and relieve discomfort. Avoid placing ice directly on your tooth, as this can worsen the pain if the nerves are exposed.
  4. Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relief: Medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate pain. Stick to the recommended dosage and avoid placing aspirin or any other medication directly against the gums, as this can burn the tissue.
  5. Cover Sharp Edges: To protect your gums and tongue from cuts, cover the chipped tooth with a sharp edge with sugar-free chewing gum or dental wax.
  6. Eat Soft Foods: Until you can get to the dentist, eat soft foods and avoid biting down on the chipped tooth.
  7. Call Your Dentist Immediately: Schedule an emergency dental appointment. Most dental practices offer same-day appointments for such emergencies. If possible, you can try to take a picture of the chipped area to send us to help us evaluate the urgency of your situation.

Dental Restorative Options for Chipped Teeth

Once you are at our office, we will assess the extent of the damage and discuss the best course of action to restore your tooth. Here are some of the common restorative options:

  1. Dental Bonding: Dental bonding is an effective solution for small and simple chips. We will apply a tooth-colored composite resin to the chipped area, sculpt it to look like a natural part of your tooth, and then cure it with ultraviolet light.
  2. Dental Veneers: A veneer might be the best option if the chip is large or your tooth needs cosmetic improvement. Veneers are thin covers that adhere to the teeth, giving a more classically shaped look. They are particularly ideal for the front teeth visible when smiling.
  3. Dental Crowns: For more significant damage, including pain or a risk of infection, your dentist may recommend a crown. A crown is a cap, typically made of porcelain or ceramic, fitted over your tooth to restore its shape, size, strength, and appearance.
  4. Root Canal Therapy: A root canal may be necessary if the chip is large enough to extend into the pulp – the center of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels. This procedure involves removing the damaged pulp, cleaning the canal, and sealing it. A crown is often placed afterward to protect the tooth.
  5. Dental Implants: If a tooth is extensively damaged and cannot be saved, your dentist might suggest an extraction followed by the placement of a dental implant. An implant serves as a new tooth root and is capped with a crown for a natural-looking appearance.


At Pathway Dental Group, we emphasize the importance of immediate action and professional consultation in the case of a chipped tooth. Understanding your restorative options helps alleviate some of the stress of dental injuries. Rest assured, we are here to restore your smile and the health of your teeth with state-of-the-art treatments tailored to your needs. If you have chipped a tooth, do not wait. Contact us today to receive the care you deserve.

Remember, each case is unique, so you must consult with your dentist immediately to get the best advice tailored to your situation. Let us help you maintain your healthy, beautiful smile!

Schedule Your Emergency Appointment