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Palo Alto, CA
2290 Birch St, Ste A, Palo Alto, CA 94306.
(650) 503-6777
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Redwood City, CA
81 Birch Street, Redwood City, CA 94062.
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Santa Clara, CA
1394 Franklin St, Santa Clara, CA 95050.
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How Dental Visits Reduce Risks of Oral Cancer

How Dental Visits Reduce Risks of Oral Cancer_Redwood City Dentists

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Early detection considerably increases long-term survival and underscores the importance of routine oral cancer screening. Every dental appointment is your chance to get screened.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be around 54,000 new cases and 11,230 deaths in 2022 because of oropharyngeal cancer and oral cavity.

Oral cancer includes cancers of the tongue, lips, throat, minor salivary glands, the floor of your mouth, and gums. Men are more prone to oral cancer than women, making it the 6th most prevalent cancer among men. If not detected and treated early, oral cancer can be life-threatening. That’s why many general dentists in Palo Alto take advantage of routine visits and dental appointments to check for signs of cancer.


Signs and symptoms of oral cancer 

Oral cancer often appears as a sore or growth that doesn’t go away. For instance, you may have recurring sores on your mouth, neck, or face that bleed easily and don’t heal as quickly as they are supposed to.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, other typical symptoms of oral cancer include:


  • Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
  • Bumps or lumps, rough spots/eroded areas in your gums, lips, or other parts inside your mouth
  • Speckled white-and-red patches in your mouth
  • Soreness or a strange feeling that something is stuck in the back of your throat
  • Unexplained numbness or pain in any area of your mouth, face, or neck.
  • Chronic sore throat, voice changes, or hoarseness
  • Difficulty speaking, chewing, swallowing, or moving your tongue or jaw
  • Changes in your bite
  • Ear pain
  • Dramatic weight loss


What happens during oral cancer screening? 

Oral cancer screening covers your oral cavity and related tissues, which can be in the sinuses, throat, pharynx, and larynx. Screening can reassure you that there are no abnormalities or trigger early treatment.

The phrase “oral cancer screening” and “mouth cancer screening” are used interchangeably, as you may hear from your Palo Alto dentist. Screening is divided into two parts – a visual exam and a physical exam. Let’s dive in!

Visual examination 

During a visual examination, your dentist will advise you to remove dentures or other removable dental devices you may have. This ensures your entire mouth is accessible. Your dentist will be looking for asymmetries, bumps, swellings, ulcerations, patches of color, or other abnormalities. They may also observe your face, lips, jaw, cheeks, neck, and inside of your nose.

Your top dentist Palo Alto will use a light and a mirror to examine the inside of your mouth. Additionally, they employ a tongue depressor to hold your tongue down and examine the back of your mouth. And, as you may recall from your childhood physical, your dentist will request you to stick your tongue out and say, “Ahh.” These reveals areas of your throat that would otherwise be difficult to see.

Physical examination 

Aside from a visual examination, your dentist will touch your face, neck, and mouth to feel for strange masses and nodules. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF), touch is necessary for dentists to detect any cancer-causing anomalies in your mouth. In other words, a tactile examination helps your dentist quickly locate any hard tissues and lumps in the mouth. Signs of oral cancer are usually painless in the early stages, hence more reasons for dentists to screen for it regularly.

If your dentist discovers an oral cancer-like symptom, they might recommend further testing to establish clearly what that symptom means. Remember, results that require further assessment are not necessarily an indication of a cancer diagnosis. However, if the tests confirm the presence of oral cancer, early treatment is highly advised.

Oral cancer screening is not only a visual or physical examination. It’s a golden chance for you to discuss your anxieties and concerns regarding oral cancer. Come prepared with questions and seek guidance on lifestyle adjustments. It’s not unusual to be edgy regarding the possibility of oral cancer but going regularly for this screening will help put your mind at ease.


How often should you go for oral cancer screening? 

Experts have different opinions on how frequently people should be screened for mouth cancer. However, dentists recommend that all adults be screened every six months.

Even people who maintain a healthy lifestyle may develop oral cancer. We advise patients not to brush aside the possibility of oral cancer and be diligent about scheduling careening.

Lastly, some people need more frequent screenings. If you have risk factors for cancer, it is advisable to get screened even more frequently than twice per year. Top risk factors, as explained by the American Cancer Society, include:


  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • A history of oral cancer


Other tips for preventing oral cancer, besides dental visits


  1. Maintain proper oral hygiene – Brush your teeth twice daily
  2. Quit tobacco products – Cease using cigars, cigarettes, or chewing any tobacco products.
  3. Eat a healthy and balanced diet – Whole, nutrient-dense foods ensure your body functions optimally.
  4. Prevent HPV – Get vaccinated for HPV and practice safe sex
  5. Limit sun exposure – Wear sunscreen to protect your face


Make an appointment with your dentist today

Do you think you might be exhibiting oral cancer-like symptoms? Or do you just want to learn more about how to prevent oral cancer? Schedule an appointment with your general dentist in Palo Alto today.

Is Professional Teeth Cleaning Really Necessary?

Is Professional Teeth Cleaning Really Necessary? Santa Clara Dentists

There is a common fallacy that flossing, rinsing with mouthwash, and brushing will suffice for dental health. The truth is an at-home oral hygiene routine can only do so much for your gums and teeth.

Professional cleaning, carried out by an experienced dentist, is crucial for oral health and aesthetic appeal. If you haven’t had any form of teeth cleaning in the past one year or six months, it is high time you scheduled a trip to a Palo Alto dental clinic near you.


Deep Teeth Cleaning Vs. Regular Cleaning: What’s the Difference?

Deep cleaning is not obligatory for every patient. Usually, it is a special kind of cleaning that focuses on getting rid of bacteria that cause gum disease. For instance, if you have gingivitis or a more severe case of gum infection, you will need deep teeth cleaning in Palo Alto.

Unlike a regular cleaning, this procedure takes two appointments. The dentist will do a partial cleaning of your mouth at each visit. But what actually happens during teeth cleaning?

First, the dentists conduct a physical exam. If they detect significant issues, they proceed to numb your mouth and then use special dental instruments to clean tartar and plaque in the gums and teeth. Additionally, the dentist will smoothen out the roots of your teeth to remove pockets of bacteria and get rid of gum disease.

Professional Dental Cleaning Is Necessary: Here Is Why.


  1. Professional Teeth Cleaning Is Essential in Combating Gum Disease
    According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), deep teeth cleanings is hugely beneficial to individuals with chronic gum disease.

Gum disease affects the tissues surrounding the teeth, causing halitosis (bad breath) and possible bone loss if left untreated. The gums progressively weaken as gum disease magnifies.

Professional teeth cleaning in Palo Alto provides you with the chance to locate gum disease early, reverse the impact, and treat the issue before it degenerates. Thus, failure to meet with your dentist for regular dental checkups and cleanings may leave your gums more vulnerable.


  1. Professional Teeth Cleaning Is Necessary for Cavity Prevention

Plaque is one of the primary causes of cavities. Plaque slowly builds up on the teeth, leaving behind a film-like material that attacks dental enamel. Your teeth start to decay as the enamel dissipates. Usually, this decay spurs large cavities.

Professional teeth cleaning in Palo Alto is essential to get rid of plaque and clean all those confined areas in your mouth you may not be able to clean by yourself. In other words, it is the only practical way to eliminate all the cavity-causing plaque in the mouth.


  1. Teeth Cleaning Help You Achieve a Beautiful Smile

Everyone wants a lovely smile, yet a beautiful smile cannot be achieved only with brushing, flossing, mouth rinsing, and use of over-the-counter products.

Opt for professional dental cleanings, and you will rest knowing the dentist will conduct the procedure much more safely than any DIY method. Add to the fact that professional cleaning will remove stains and buff up your teeth, so they look that much brighter and whiter.

How Often Should You Go for Dental Checkups and Cleaning in Palo Alto?

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends regular dental visits depending on your specific case. If you are taking care of your teeth and having regular cleanings, a deep cleaning may not be essential. An annual regular dental cleaning may be enough. However, patients with a history of periodontitis or gum disease may have to visit more often for checkups and deep cleaning.

Do Teeth Cleanings Hurt?

There are some people for whom any dental visit can cause anxiety and apprehension. However, while teeth deep cleaning may cause some discomfort, your Palo Alto dentist will use anesthesia to numb the gums during the procedure.

You really shouldn’t feel pain during teeth cleaning. And in instances where your gums may feel a bit tender after the procedure, there are ways to ease that.

Teeth Cleaning Aftercare

After cleaning, your dentist will offer instructions on how to care for your teeth. Here are some common best practices for just about every teeth cleaning situation:


  • Don’t eat until the numbness has subsided entirely. Ensure you can feel every sensation in your gums before eating. That way, you won’t damage your gums or disrupt the healing process.


  • Avoid certain food. Though your gums are healing, there are some foods you shouldn’t eat. They may include challenging-to-eat foods like large burgers and steaks, acidic foods like citrus, and foods with small pieces that may get trapped in your gums, such as popcorn and nuts.


  • Rinse your mouth with saltwater. Your Palo Alto dentist may advise you to rinse your mouth a few times a day with salt water. This keeps the treated part clean and helps avoid infection.

Schedule a Dental Checkup and Cleaning in Palo Alto Today

Visiting your Palo Alto dentist for checkups and cleaning at least twice a year will ensure your mouth, gum, and teeth remain healthy at all times. All the best as you plan this important and necessary visit!

Article Resources:

Information in this article has been gathered from multiple public health sources, including:


Get a Headstart on Good Dental Hygiene with Preventive Care

If you take good care of your teeth, they will take good care of you. Preventive care keeps your mouth healthy and you happy. It may help you retain your teeth your whole life, and have less dental concerns throughout your life. The two most common causes of tooth loss are decay and gum disease. 

By preventing these problems from developing, you have a better chance of maintaining your smile. Even if you need dental treatments to help correct imperfections, you can still start preventive care once your mouth is in good health.

Blue Turtle Dental provides several dental treatments to patients to help restore and maintain their smiles at all stages of life. It is never too late to start adopting preventative care into your dental hygiene, and we can help get you started.

What is Preventive Care?

Preventive care is best for children and young people, but even those without any teeth can benefit. For them, there are mouth diseases that can be spotted early with preventative dental care. During a consultation, we will examine your mouth and teeth and recommend any treatment you need to get your mouth back into a healthy condition. We may also point out any areas in your mouth that require special attention. These options will be discussed during your consultation.

What Does Preventive Care Treat?

Plaque, which develops into tartar if left untreated, is one of the biggest threats to good oral health. Bacterial plaque constantly forms on your teeth from the food you eat, especially from sugar. Plaque turns the sugar into acid which can potentially cause tooth decay. 

This acid can also cause gum inflammation, swelling and pain. If it is not regularly removed through good oral hygiene and professional dental cleanings, it can cause irreparable damage to the jawbone and other support structures in your mouth, possibly leading to tooth loss.

What is Involved in Preventive Care?

We offer comprehensive preventative care services that may include:

  • Removing plaque, tartar and stains
  • Making sure all fillings are in good condition, as fillings can break down and leave cracks where food and bacteria can enter and cause decay deep in the tooth
  • Providing instructions on how to brush your teeth and clean in between your teeth with brushes or floss
  • Recommending effective oral care products including toothpaste and mouthwash that contains fluoride
  • Explaining the effects of diet, smoking and drinking alcohol on oral health

There are also things you can do at home to help maintain your oral health. These include:

  • Brushing properly twice every day
  • Flossing properly once every day
  • Having dental checkups every six months for cleaning and examinations
  • Eating a nutritious diet and limiting sugar intake
  • Using dental products that contain fluoride

Good oral health is not only important to looking and feeling good, it is also important for eating and speaking properly. If your teeth hurt when you chew, this can negatively impact your quality of life as well as your diet. 

If you have frequent problems with bad breath or if your gums hurt or bleed when you floss or brush, it may be time to ask about preventative care.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out how to incorporate preventative care measures into your dental hygiene.

The Importance of Bringing Children to the Dentist

The Importance of Bringing Children to the Dentist_Palo Alto Dentists

Once your child’s first teeth erupt, it’s time to visit the dentist. You may think these baby teeth don’t really matter, because they will eventually go, and the adult teeth are more important. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. You can set your child on a course of good dental health by bringing him or her to the dentist right from the sign of the first tooth.

Statistics show that by three years of age, as many as 30 percent of children have had tooth decay. This can be very dangerous for the developing adult teeth and is completely preventable. Our specialists can see early signs of disease. A child’s risk of decay may also depend on the shape of the tooth, the enamel and saliva.

During early childhood, a good diet is essential for overall good health. To get the best nutrition from food, a child needs to be able to chew properly. Healthy teeth also help the child learn to speak clearly. Many of the treatment options that are available to adults are also available to children.

During a child’s first visit to the dentist, the parents may have a lot to learn. At this time, parents can talk to the dentist about:

• How to help their infant or toddler have good oral heath

• What is the proper use of fluoride

• What to do about finger or thumb sucking

• What are the milestones for teething

• How does diet effect oral health

• How to brush a child’s teeth

After the first checkup, parents should have a good idea of what is good oral care for their young child. If the child doesn’t fall asleep while sucking a bottle of milk or juice, doesn’t eat in the middle of the night and has transitioned from the bottle to a cup, it may be enough to wait one year before the next visit to the dentist. By age two, children should visit the dentist every six months just as is recommended for adults.

It helps a lot to visit a dentist who knows how to treat children. Our specialists know how to help children relax, and they have the patience to answer all of your child’s questions.

By taking their children to the dentist when the first teeth begin to arrive, parents are putting their children on course for keeping their teeth all their lives. Our specialist may be able to see oral problems in the making and help stop problems before they become serious issues that cause pain and require major treatment.

Contact Blue Turtle Dental today to make an appointment. We look forward to answering any questions you may have.

How Dental Sealants Can Help Protect Kids from Tooth Decay

Even with modern dental services, tooth decay affects just over 70 percent of American children under the age of 19.

In addition to being unsightly and potentially painful, untreated tooth decay can result in a number of serious oral health problems that could plague a child for years.

Studies continue to show that dental sealants are one of the most effective ways to preserve a child’s oral health and prevent tooth decay from developing.

The Importance of Baby Teeth

Many parents fail to schedule regular dental appointments for their child simply because they know that baby teeth are going to fall out at some point. While it is true that their baby teeth will eventually fall out, developing multiple cavities at a young age can lead to a lifetime of oral health problems.

Younger children with unhealthy baby teeth will have a higher risk of developing issues such as malocclusion (an improper positioning of adult teeth).

When to Start Scheduling Appointments

Parents can begin scheduling dental appointments for their child as soon as they feel comfortable with it. Most specialists suggest that children have their first appointment by the time they reach one year of age or when their first teeth begin to erupt.

In those first few years, the dentist will be able to keep an eye on your child’s oral health and suggest preventative treatments as they are needed. Most children require dental sealants around the time they turn the age of six or when their first set of molars come in.

A Look at Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are not only easy to place on a child’s teeth, but when they are combined with great oral hygiene habits and regular trips to the dentist, they have a success rate of nearly 100 percent.

These sealants are nothing more than thin plastic strips that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surface of one’s teeth. It is important to apply sealants to the chewing surface because they will keep food debris and bacteria out of the hard-to-reach areas of the teeth.

The entire process can often be carried out in as little as an hour and it requires no drilling or scraping of the teeth.

The dentist will begin by cleaning the teeth thoroughly before applying a special gel to the chewing surface of each tooth.

After the gel is dry, the teeth are cleaned once again and the sealant is “painted” on the teeth. For most children, each tooth can be sealed in less than a minute.

Does My Child Need Sealants?

The only way to know for sure if your child is a good candidate for sealants is to schedule an appointment with Blue Turtle Dental today.

Join the Fight Against Sugar

Lately, the sugar industry has been under pressure from public health advocates, and deservedly so. Just this year, the WHO changed their guidelines on sugar intake, recommending that adults and children reduce their daily caloric intake of sugars to 10% or less of total calories. Now the ADA is weighing in as well. Dental Hygiene is very important to every one.

In an article released on May 12th, the ADA states its support of more research on the effects of sugar intake, and for more transparency in labeling added sugars, including a proposal from the Food and Drug Administration to add a new line under food ingredients that shows the amount of added sugars the food contains.

Scientifically supported policies

The ADA bases its position in large part on consistent and repeated findings that the incidence of dental caries is directly related to the amount of sugar consumed. Sugary products marketed directly to children pose an even greater threat to public health because it has been found that cavities occurring early in life– even in deciduous teeth– are likely to negatively impact the oral health of that individual as an adult.

Furthermore, the rapidly growing body of evidence linking systemic diseases with oral inflammation all indicate that reducing sugar consumption will not only limit cavities, but can have real impacts on the general health of our communities– possibly reducing the incidence of heart disease and dementia, for example.

But why, sugar– why?

Why is sugar so bad when it tastes so good? Scientists theorize that we developed a taste for sugar because it benefited our early ancestors’ nutrition; a lust for sweets ensured prehistoric people got the proper vitamins, perhaps. However, in the modern world, where candy bars and soda drinks are at our fingertips, a hunger for sugar is no longer an evolutionary advantage.

Forget obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and the host of other diseases caused by excess sugar consumption, and let’s focus on oral health for a minute. We all know that sugar causes cavities– but how exactly?

Sugar’s wicked game

The path from the candy bar you eat to the cavity you get filled is an indirect one. Sugar in itself isn’t drilling away at dental enamel, what it is doing is feeding the bacteria that will. Bacteria feast on sugars– in fact, some are even able to change their own metabolism to fit the most abundant type of sugar in their environment. When you eat sugar, you’re directly feeding bacteria in your mouth.

When bacteria consume sugar they form a metabolic byproduct that is extremely acidic. Not only this, but they’re eating while sitting comfortably on your teeth– or along the gum line where people frequently miss brushing. All that acid they produce goes right on top of your dental enamel and erodes it, leading to cavities.

Avoid the perfect storm

If a high sugar intake is coupled with poor dental hygiene, this creates the perfect storm for cavities, periodontitis, and gingivitis. With nothing to stop them from their frenzied feasting (like daily toothbrushing) and an endless food supply, bacterial reign in the oral cavity and create a lot of problems.

This is why health organizations like the ADA and WHO are pressing for more stringent guidelines to sugar additives and recommendations. They know that the fight against oral health problems is a multi-faceted one, and the want to attack it from every angle.

Palo Alto dental care that fights the good fight with you

While other organizations battle sugar regulations, our office is here to provide great preventative care that will keep you healthy and smiling. Daily dental hygiene and regular appointments with Dr. Scheel are the key ingredients to oral health!

Schedule your next appointment today.

Photo Credit: ND Strupler via Compfight cc

Woo Your Valentine With Fresh Breath

Blue Turtle Dental- It’s Valentine’s Day; a time-tested opportunity for showing that special someone that you care. Cards and flowers, chocolates and wine– no matter what your choice of Valentine’s cheer may be, your honey is going to hope that your breath is sweet when he or she thanks you with a kiss.

Halitosis, or bad breath, is the number one Valentine’s Day buzz kill. Nothing sours conversation hearts quicker than an unpleasant smelling mouth. But fortunately, this problem can easily be treated at your trusted source for Palo Alto Dentist: Blue Turtle Dental!

An examination of bad breath

What causes bad breath? Of course, bad oral hygiene is the number one culprit– which is great news because it’s inexpensive and easy to fix!

There are other causes of halitosis, some you might not even think of!

  • Food. Food’s an easy one. Want to kiss your honey? Maybe skip the onions right beforehand. But onions and garlic aren’t the only way that food can cause unpleasant breath. If you fail to floss, food particles will hang out in your mouth for hours or even days. If you notice that your breath smells like something you ate last week, that’s a good sign that flossing should be in your future.
  • Smoking. Tobacco use, like pipe, cigarette smoking, or smokeless tobacco, all cause terrible breath– in addition to being a major health hazard! If you are interested in gaining some resources to help you quit tobacco, please ask at your next appointment. Quitting tobacco can make a big difference in your oral health, and we’re here to help you!
  • Gum disease. Gum disease often results from poor hygiene, but once it starts, it can be its own cause of bad breath. The infection around your gumline caused by plaque not only causes swelling, tenderness, and bleeding– but it can have an unpleasant odor, too!
  • Medical conditions. A medical condition unrelated to oral health can also cause bad breath, particularly infections in the airway, like pneumonia or a sinus infection. Diabetes can also contribute to unpleasant breath. Because of hormone changes, pregnancy can cause dry mouth– which places pregnant women at a higher risk for gum disease as well as halitosis!
  • Medications. Some medications can lead to dry mouth as well. Without saliva to keep your mouth fresh and clean, you may experience bad breath as a side effect of medications!

Some solutions at Blue Turtle Dental

If you are experiencing bad breath, that doesn’t mean you will be alone on Valentine’s Day. There are a lot of things you can do to treat a bad breath situation! 

  • Avoid pungent or smelly foods– no sardines on your pizza.
  • Drink lots of water, especially if you go a long time between meals. This rinses the mouth and boosts salivary production.
  • Chew sugar-free gum after or between meals. This also stimulates saliva, and helps clean your mouth.
  • If you are experiencing medically-related halitosis, work with your doctor; she can help suggest tools to address this problem.

And finally– stay up-to-date on your appointments at Blue Turtle Dental, your first choice of Palo Alto dental care. Regular cleanings are critical to fresh breath.

Call for your next appointment now!


Photo Credit: Kolin Toney via Compfight cc

Halloween Tips for Parents

With Halloween just around the corner, you may be considering the effects of the imminent candy onslaught on your small monsters’ teeth. It’s fair to say that health-conscious parents everywhere cringe at the sight of their triumphant children’s heaping bags of sweets following the trick-or-treating ritual. As your source for family dentistry in Palo Alto, your Blue Turtle Dental team would like to assuage your fears: Halloween doesn’t have to be a scary holiday! Here are some of our tips for keeping Halloween safe for your kids’ teeth, while indulging in some spooky fun.

Set a treat schedule with your child

After her big Halloween haul, set a time for eating a small treat of her choice. Our suggestion is to combine candy-eating with an actual meal or snack (preferably a healthy one). This takes advantage of the elevated saliva production associated with eating, and thus saliva’s unique anti-microbial properties– in addition to its function of “cleaning” the mouth of bacteria food, like lingering sugar. Don’t worry if your child eats more than her “share” of candy on the actual night of Halloween. Just brush and floss afterward, and set a schedule for the following days (or months).

Be choosy

We’ve all been taught to say please and thank you, and your polite children are no doubt as equally accepting of a stale Tootsie Roll as they are of a king size Snickers. However, once your children have brought their loot home, it’s worth it to go over that candy with a critical eye. Why? Well, not all candy is created equal in terms of oral health.

We suggest limiting the following:

  • Sticky, tacky candies that get stuck to teeth long after they’re eaten– like taffy or caramel. These could feed hungry bacteria hours after your child has finished her treat.
  • Hard candy, like jawbreakers, that require literally hours of sucking on a rock of sugar, also raise dental red flags. The entire time that your child is slowly, slowly eating away at his treat– bacteria in his mouth are getting the nutrients they need to eat away at your child’s teeth!
  • Acidic candy. What is this? You find acidic candy commonly labeled as “sour.” The problem is, raising acid levels in the mouth can harm tooth enamel— and if this sour candy is a hard candy as well, that means long exposure to enamel acid wash!

Seize the “teachable” moment

When it comes to Halloween and your child’s health, your glass of bubbly green witch’s brew is definitely half full. Instead of worrying about how much sugar your darling has gorged on, take this opportunity to teach her about good dental health habits.

Show your child that after indulging in a treat, it’s important to brush and floss to protect her teeth and gums from lingering sugar that could feed harmful bacteria. You can even explain how sugar causes cavities– it’s not the sugar itself, but the acid formed when bacteria eat sugar that eats away at our tooth enamel.

Practicing a schedule for eating a limited amount of treats, followed by appropriate oral care, sets your child up for later success in a lifetime of great dental health.

Questions about Halloween and your child’s heath?

Please call us. At Blue Turtle Dental, a family dentistry in Palo Alto, we’re happy to answer all your questions and brainstorm with you about the best way to keep your kids smiling. We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

Photo Credit: kierkier via Compfight cc