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Habitual Whitening Can Ruin Your Teeth. Are Americans going too far?

2023-11-28T20:15:11+00:00November 28th, 2023|Adam Brown, Adam Brown DDS, Dental Trends, Oral Health, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening|

The Dangers of Habitual Teeth Whitening

When it comes to teeth whitening these days, we have plenty of options to choose from. Do these methods truly whiten teeth? Yes, absolutely they do. Some provide immediate results, others take a month or so of use for noticeable whiteness, but they do work. However, one question that is rarely discussed concerning teeth whitening is whether or not it has negative side effects. Which, unfortunately, it does–some of which can end up costing a lot of money in repairs, or worse, doing serious damage to one’s oral health.

Dangers of too much teeth whitening

Though advanced methods of teeth whitening pop up every few years, the act of whitening itself has been around for a long time. Archeologists have discovered evidence of ancient Egyptians grinding stone to a powder and mixing it with white vinegar to produce a whitening paste. This 4,000 year-old practice has changed a bit over time, but the desired result has always been the same: pearly white teeth. But what about the long-term effects, are they worth the risk? Let’s find out.

A Quick Note

There are many whitening products available for consumer purchase, however, there are two types of treatment–those done at home and those done in a dental office. Obviously, in-office procedures are performed by a dental professional, which usually brings about quicker results. Then there are at-home treatments which include whitening strips, trays, etc. and these can take longer to show results. The point to be made here is that despite which type of treatment you use, they all come with possible health risks, like gum irritation, heightened tooth sensitivity, and even enamel damage.

Before getting into the details of the potential health risks due to whitening, it is of the utmost importance to understand that any use of whitening agents on one’s teeth should commence with a quick dental consultation, so your dentist can relay professional advice on whether you should or should not use them and which treatment(s) might work best for your teeth. 

Teeth Whitening and How It Works

Teeth whitening involves particular techniques to remove stains and discoloration from the teeth. These techniques are not necessarily meant to improve one’s oral health, but rather to improve the appearance of the teeth, which is important to understand. If a whitening agenda proports effectiveness, know that this means it is effective in making teeth appear whiter, but this doesn’t mean it is effective in making the teeth healthier.

Coffee, tea, wine, and tobacco are usually blamed most often for staining teeth, and when whitening treatments are used, they work by coating the teeth in peroxide-based agents that bleach and break down stains and discolored areas. If the teeth have high levels of dark stains, it might take a more serious procedure, such as an in-office treatment that will cost a bit more than the over-the-counter methods.

The problem is that these whitening treatments use harsh chemicals to whiten the teeth, and often these treatments are done more than once–sometimes a lot more than once. Over time, the peroxide eats away at the enamel, which initiates tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. This is why it is of the utmost importance to see your dentist first before trying any sort of whitening treatment, so you can get an idea of what your specific side effects to the whitening treatments might be.

Dangerous Side Effects

There are so many whitening products out there, it can be difficult to know which ones have the most dangerous and/or severe side effects. It’s a scary thought that you could potentially be purchasing a whitening kit that will damage your teeth, so to help provide some clarity, here are a few tips to consider when looking to whiten:

  • Stay away from trays and gels. This whitening system has been around the longest, and though it does whiten your teeth, it also—you guessed it—eats away at the tooth enamel. The process involves heating a tray, filling it with whitening gel, and inserting it to the mouth to form a bond. The problem with this method is that it can take weeks for results to show, so users tend to use it a lot in order to get the desired results. And consequently, most people who use the trays and gels report having teeth sensitivity afterwards, even receding gums.
  • Use caution with whitening strips—actually, don’t use them at all. The famous whitening strips have been around for ten years or so, and have had a lot of success in whitening teeth. Results can show in about a week, and the process is easy: fold the strip over your top and bottom rows of teeth and keep them in your mouth for a short period of time. However, just as the trays and gels, this method is bad for your teeth and gums in the long run because it eats away your enamel and gum tissue due to the direct contact of the chemicals used.
  • Another one to say away from: paint-on whitening. The paint-on method solves the problem of the whitening agent interacting with interior soft tissues, such as the gums and inner cheek, as you simply brush the whitening gel on each tooth and let it sit for a short period of time, but this “paint” is full of chemicals that like to diminish the enamel. This method is an easy process, which is why it has become popular, but it isn’t healthy. After months, even years, of using paint-on whiteners users have noticed receding gums and increased tooth sensitivity.

A Healthy Option

Recently, two natural methods of whitening teeth have been gaining in popularity. Both maintain your tooth’s enamel, and if used correctly, they don’t cause your gums to recede and reveal that sensitive area between the teeth and gumline. Check these out:

  1. Turmeric Tooth-Whitening Paste. As turmeric is naturally an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, it does more than clean the teeth. It’s good for your overall oral health as well. Here are the ingredients for this healthy whitening method:

-4 tablespoons turmeric powder

-2.5 tablespoons coconut oil

-2 tablespoons baking soda

Mix the ingredients until a paste is formed and store in an airtight container. Use the paste on your teeth two or three times a week, using regular—non-whitening—toothpaste the rest of the week. All it takes is a pea-sized drop of the turmeric paste and a light touch when brushing (it can be a bit abrasive, so brush lightly as to not end up damaging your teeth and gums).

  • Baking Soda Lemon Tooth-Whitening Paste. Though it seems as though the acidity of a lemon and abrasiveness of baking soda would be harsh on the teeth, if used lightly, and in moderation, it can be quite effective and safe.

 The lemon juice acts as a bleach to help whiten teeth, while the pH of the baking soda balances out the acidity of your mouth to create a nice whitening agent. Here’s the recipe:

-10 teaspoons of baking soda

-Enough lemon juice to form a paste

The same with the turmeric paste, brush lightly. Use a pea-sized amount and let the product sit on your teeth for a minute or two before rinsing. Do this two or three times a week and results should begin to show within a month.

Before You Whiten

Though it is tempting to buy the most popular take-home whitening products on the market, the natural method is so much safer and better for your overall oral health. Just because your friend has found a product that works without causing sensitivity and enamel loss, it doesn’t mean its safe. It could take years, but eventually that loss of enamel and raised gumline will cause some problems.

Your first step is to come in and meet with Dr. Brown and his team. They can effectively assess the health level of your teeth and gums to forecast which method(s) might be best for you–if any.

 

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Dangerous Procedures: Why You Should Not Have Dental Work Done Outside of the US

2023-10-27T19:34:00+00:00October 27th, 2023|Adam Brown, Adam Brown DDS, Dental Insurance|

Dental procedures can get expensive, even when you have a high-tiered insurance plan. And though most dental practices are willing to work with patients by offering payment plans and discounts, there is what seems to be a growing trend of people looking elsewhere for dental work in order to get it at a much lower cost. “Elsewhere” in this case means out of the country–particularly, in Mexico. Though it is true that a patient can get a number of dental procedures done for less money in Mexico, this is not a good idea.  

Why it is not a good idea to try and save cash by scheduling a dental procedure to be done in Mexico

Saving money is one thing; putting your health at risk (a rather high risk at that) is something more serious. So why do some people search outside of the country to get their dental procedures done? The truth is, it can be a lot less expensive to have any kind of dental work done in countries like Mexico, but after looking into the details it becomes clear that it’s simply not worth it. Not only is it a health risk, but there is also the chance that the particular procedure being performed will not be done correctly. This is not to say that Mexican dentists are derelict at their jobs, but rather that they do not adhere to the same rules and regulations that we are used to having here in the States.

The following are specific examples of why it is not a good idea to try and save cash by scheduling a dental procedure to be done in Mexico:

Low Standards of Sterilization

The American Journal of Infection Control, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, released a study in 2016 showcasing a series of test samples collected over a period of twenty years. These tests were taken from dentists in Mexico and showed that 10.2% of the cases studied failed the necessary rate of dental tool sterilization. This means that in just over 10% of the cases noted, the dentists simply ignored the tool sterilization cycle and failed to read the sterilization equipment’s pressure indicator dial and thermometer. 

Though 10.2% is not a massive number, when dealing with sterilizing tools and equipment, even a 1% failure is a big deal. Any dentist who has been properly trained knows that the manufacturer’s specifications must always be followed for each particular piece of equipment and tool used. Could you imagine having a piece of dental equipment used inside of your mouth right after it had been used on someone else–and with no sterilization done between uses?! No thank you.

The scientific study reveals that some of the necessary sterilization cycles that must be performed in order to maintain proper levels of health safety remain unknown to most dentists in Mexico. The United States, on the other hand, conducts regular extensive tests on every dental office in order to biologically monitor and conduct test sporing.

A Lack of Education

None of this is to say that dentists in Mexico are incapable of operating on the same level as American dentists, but rather that they are not required to do so. Take the level of required education for example.

In the United States, dental professionals must take hours of continued education (this is after they have obtained their degree in the field of dentistry) every two to three years in order to keep their license active. The logic behind this is to help dentists to keep up on their skills, as well as, for them to learn the newest technological information and techniques coming out of the present body of knowledge within the dental field.

It’s a little different in Mexico. Dentists in Mexico are not required to go through a renewal process, nor are they mandated to keep up with industry standards. On the other hand, a dentist in America may have twenty years of experience, but that also means they are versed in the modern methods used in dentistry. A dentist in Mexico with twenty years of experience simply has the experience, but has most likely not received any continued education.

This is incredibly disconcerting because dental standards and regulations are constantly changing, so any dentist who is not following the continued updates in the field could be doing harm to patients.

A Lack of Qualification

Since general dentists in Mexico need only a dental license (no continued education required) to perform procedures, this means after four years of schooling, they are finished. They can then begin performing complicated procedures, such as root canals, tooth extractions, and dental implants even though they are not necessarily qualified to do so–any dentist worth his salt would agree that these high-level dental procedures require plenty of extra education and experience, to say the least.

In America, for instance, a prosthodontist has to take three additional years of schooling in order to be able to perform any sort of dental surgery. The same is true for an orthodontist, where it takes an additional three years to be able to administer Invisalign treatments.

In addition to a lack of qualification, dental professionals in Mexico tend to rush dental work. This is often advertised as a good quality, but in order for a patient to receive quality care, being rushed is not a good thing. The reality is that many dental procedures require more than one or two dental visits. The implication here is that if a dentist is rushing her work, certain protocols are being ignored.

One particularly dangerous procedure to have done in Mexico is dental implants. This takes specific equipment that is often not found in these dental offices, which keeps them from being able to offer same-day crowns, and often important steps within the implant process get skipped due to a lack of knowledge and experience.

No Chance of a Refund

Yet another negative aspect to having dental work done in Mexico is that, if your procedure goes awry, there is little-to-no chance you will receive a refund. You can’t even file a complaint; however, here in the States, if you do not end up getting a refund–which, if your dental work was not done correctly, you most likely would–you can file a complaint or leave a bad review, which no dental office wants to have attached to its practice.

The Language Barrier

Imagine having someone tinkering around with your teeth, in a country you are unfamiliar with–and they are speaking a language you do not understand. You have high hopes the dental work done will cost a lot less than it would in America, but there is a good chance it will be done incorrectly. And if it is, you most likely will not know until you return home. Who do you contact? If you do make contact with the dentist, what if he doesn’t speak the same language as you? Even if he does, what good will it do? Are you going to fly back to the same dental office and hope it’s done right this time?

Hopefully by now it is clear the problems that can occur when attempting to have a dental procedure done outside of the U.S. The lesson here is, when in doubt, talk with your dentist. As mentioned earlier, if it is a money issue, payment plans can be worked out. There is never a good reason to risk your health. If you need any sort of dental procedure done, from basic cleanings to dental implants, come visit us at Adam Brown, DDS as soon as possible.

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Coffee: Good for Your Social Life, Bad for Your Teeth

2023-05-22T21:33:30+00:00May 22nd, 2023|Adam Brown DDS, Dentist Office Monroe NC, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening|

For many, a life without coffee is a life difficult to imagine. Heck, a single morning without coffee is enough to induce stress, irritability, and a nasty little headache; but have you thought about what such a heavy, potent drink is doing to your teeth?

 

Here’s a hurtful hint: it ain’t good. The famous pick-me-up we’ve relied on for so many years is doing a number on our oral health, leading modern coffee drinkers worldwide to wonder, “Is there a way to maintain shiny, clean teeth AND still be able to sip on my morning/afternoon cup of joe?”

Remedies for Coffee Stain Teeth

It’s honestly not a shock that coffee is bad for the teeth, but the fact remains that it’s one of the most trendy drinks available. According to News Direct, a popular news and content distribution service, coffee is the second most popular drink for Americans — first place is bottled water. A survey of over 7,500 adults was taken and here are the results:

 

  • The number-one drink of choice, as mentioned, is bottled water with 63% of the vote. Number two is coffee.
  • Coming in next is soft drinks at 56%, juices at 50%, and tea at 48%.
  • Looking at alcohol, 25% of people surveyed prefer beer while 24% opt for wine.

 

But let’s get back to the coffee drinkers: News Direct reveals that 79% of Americans drink at least two cups of coffee every single day, while 44% of these drinkers are stopping for quick to-go coffees a few times a week.

 

The survey included questions about how Americans like their coffee made as well. Surprisingly, despite the plethora of ways to make and mix up a perfect coffee concoction, most Americans prefer a plain old cup of joe. Here’s the exact breakdown from the survey:

 

  • 36% said they prefer drip coffee
  • 11% are for cappuccino
  • 10% prefer iced coffee
  • 9% said they would rather have instant coffee (who in the world are these people?)

Coffee Drinkers by Age Group

Interestingly enough, Americans actually drink less coffee, as a whole, than we did in the 1960s when it was most culturally popular and significant. But overall, coffee is still one of America’s favorite drinks, which leads to the question of what age groups are drinking it the most?

 

According to The Food Institute, more younger people are drinking coffee than ever before: 65% percent of Millennials (ages 25 to 39) drink coffee daily. Coincidentally, 46% of Gen Zers (ages 18-24) said the same thing.

 

What has caused this spike in coffee drinking amongst youngsters? Well, multiple things. For one, gourmet coffee has had quite the boom lately, much like craft beer. Breweries and independent coffee shops are popping up all over the country!

 

Other contributing factors are innovative product placements in places frequented by younger crowds (social media sites, commercials on popular television stations, etc.). And we can’t forget about Covid (how could we?!) when people were kept indoors and consuming more in general — including coffee. There are also so many ways to make coffee. Iced, blended, straight-up; single-shot, double-shot, pourover, French press, Aeropress, siphon…and newer methods seem to be coming along more and more.

 

As mentioned above, social media has played a major role in coffee’s popularity with younger drinkers. Coffee shops — both independent and chain brands — have more of a welcoming atmosphere than the pop-in shops of old. Now coffee drinkers can sit outside, sit at the bar, or create their own little workspace and sit for hours. These shops are meant for people to hang out and relax or work, and people all over the country are taking advantage of this.

Coffee and Your Teeth: The Facts

Drinks like tea, wine, and coffee tend to stain the teeth because they have tannins. Tannins are rather difficult to deal with, as this sticky, brown substance can do serious damage to the teeth. Our teeth have a hard covering of enamel over them to protect against bacteria and other harmful substances, but because tannins are so small, they’re able to seep into the enamel and make way to the tooth. Hence the yellowish, brown color of the teeth after drinking coffee.

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. It only takes one cup of coffee a day to stain your teeth.
  2. Over time, your teeth can become severely discolored from the dark pigment.
  3. The acid tannins in coffee can impact and erode your tooth enamel.
  4. Consuming excess amounts will dry out your mouth and lower saliva production, which can negatively impact your oral health.

Remedies for Coffee-Stained Teeth

No matter the problems tannins cause to the teeth, coffee drinkers are most likely not going to give up the drink. Coffee wakes us up, it keeps us going; coffee is life!

Thankfully, there are ways to keep your teeth white — though not all of these methods work equally well, and some can damage your teeth. Here are some of the most common ways people keep their teeth from staining:

Swishing Water/Mouthwash

One of the safest and most preemptive ways of keeping your teeth from gaining stains is to immediately gargle with water or mouthwash after imbibing your favorite coffee mixture. This works because the tannins have not yet had a chance to fully adhere to the teeth yet, so the liquid being forced against and between your teeth does well to remove it. Now, this won’t necessarily whiten your teeth, but it will help reduce the addition of stains.

Whitening Trays and Gels

This whitening system has been around for a long time and the process involves heating a tray, filling it with whitening gel, and inserting it into the mouth to form a bond. The problem with this method is that it can take weeks for results to show. Additionally, most people who use the tray and gels report having teeth sensitivity afterward, which is a possible set of new problems for you to deal with.  

Whitening Strips

Use caution with this method as well. The famous whitening strips have been around for twelve or so years, and they have had a lot of success. Results can show in about a week, and the process is simple: fold the strips over your top and bottom rows of teeth and keep them in your mouth for a short period of time.

 

It’s important to be cautious, however, not to overlap the strips onto your gums, as this can cause irritation. Also, if you use the strips too often, your teeth can become sensitive due to the erosion of enamel from the chemicals in the strips.

Paint-On Whitening

When you have the time to wait, use this method. The paint-on method solves the problem of the whitening agent interacting with and causing damage to interior soft tissues, such as the gums and inner cheek because there is no overlap or spillage of chemicals.

 

Simply brush the whitening gel on each tooth and let it sit for a short period of time. The only down side to this method is it can take months before results are noticeable, and you have to be diligent in getting the gel precisely on each tooth every day.

Whitening Devices

Though they may be a little more expensive than the others mentioned, whitening devices produce the best results. These devices use high-intensity lights to break down hydrogen peroxides to create more whitening oxygens on the teeth. The best part of using this method is your teeth will be much whiter in only a matter of two days!

 

Like almost anything else out there we enjoy, if you’re not careful it can do some damage to your health. So the next time you decide to enjoy a cup of coffee — iced, latte, with cream, or otherwise — make sure you have a pl

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Are You Prepared For A Dental 911 on Vacation?

2023-04-19T16:20:21+00:00April 19th, 2023|Adam Brown DDS, Dental Crowns, Dentist Office Monroe NC, Tooth Infection|

What To Do if You Have a Dental Emergency While on Vacation

As unpredictable as life can be, it’s worth preparing for certain emergencies, especially when traveling away from home. Obviously, with the hope no emergency comes about. Keeping a first-aid kit in your car; setting a security alarm on your home; even bringing an extra set of clothes are examples of our preparedness, but there’s another situation that is often forgotten: a dental emergency. Do you know what to do if you or a loved one has a dental mishap while traveling or on vacation?

Dental Emergency on Vacation - What To Do

Picture yourself on a beach. You can hear the waves moving out and coming back in — that soft, loud rush of sound that works as a charging station for the mind, body, and soul. Now see yourself reaching to the side of your chair to grab your favorite beachy drink, and as you go for a sip…you clink the edge of the class to your tooth and your tooth chips! It can be that easy, and it can be that quick. And without a plan, this sort of emergency can only get worse.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, an unexpected toothache, broken teeth, and general mouth pain can happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Most likely, unless you are truly off the grid, you should be able to find care nearby.

Worst case, you end up in the emergency room and leave with a prescription for pain medication that can get you in the clear until you’re back home. But this can be expensive, and it doesn’t diagnose or solve the issue. It alleviates it and pushes it down the road for later. Adam Brown, DDS explains some of the most common dental emergencies and how to respond to them:

Common Types of Dental Emergencies

If you can imagine the emergency, it can most likely happen. With that in mind, the following are the most typical dental emergencies:

  • A tooth or multiple teeth fall out due to chewing something hard or taking a blow to the mouth.
  • You lose a crown or filling from chewing ice, hard candy, etc.
  • You injure your gums, palate, or mouth by taking some sort of impact to the face.
  • A tooth becomes loose.
  • You chip or fracture a tooth. (Maybe from misjudging the distance between your mouth and your favorite beachy drink.)
  • You feel sudden, unusual, excruciating pain inside the mouth. This could be the roots of the teeth, the gums themselves, etc.
  • Your gums or mouth starts to swell and change color (deep red or grey/white).

How does one respond to any of these tragedies? In a number of ways. It depends on your exact situation: how threatening the injury is, who is with you, where you are in proximity to getting help.

But one thing to keep in mind is that if you do lose a tooth: immediate action needs to be taken, as the amount of time a tooth is absent from the gums and root system determines the likelihood of a dentist being able to successfully replace it.

How to Respond When a Dental Emergency Happens

Whether or not the dental emergency is yours or not, it’s good to be prepared to handle what could be thrown your way. Here are a couple of those common emergencies along with some commentary on how to respond:

A Toothache and/or Mouth Pain

Such a severe, sharp pain as what’s experienced in this situation can constitute an emergency. What can be tricky about oral pain is that, a lot of times, it begins with a dull pain that seems insignificant. That is until it begins to throb.

Here is what to do: First, examine your mouth to make sure there is no visible source of the pain. If there isn’t, look for discoloration or swelling. If you see either, it’s a good idea to find a doctor or dentist to give it a look. Otherwise, if it’s only a dull pain, take over-the-counter pain medicine until you can reach a dentist.

A Broken, Cracked, or Dislodged Tooth

This can happen due to sport, play, or a freak accident. And, no matter the reason for a broken or chipped tooth, an immediate trip to an emergency dentist or the emergency room will be necessary.

It’s a good idea to research a local (to where you will be) dentist and find the contact information and hours of operation. If you know you’ll be active on your trip — and that a dental emergency is possible — consider contacting the dentist to see if she (or anyone she knows) can be of assistance in case of an emergency.

This might seem like a bit much. But due to the commonality of dental emergencies while traveling, and the fact that you like your teeth and would like to keep them intact, it’s smart to plan for the worst.

*Note: If you do lose a tooth, rinse your mouth with cold water and apply a cold compress to the area where the tooth is missing. This will help control inflammation until you can get proper aid.

Prepping for Your Trip

The following are a few quick tips for when you’re preparing for a trip:

  • Locate your dental and medical insurance documents and give them a thorough reading, as to see what sort of coverage you have while traveling.
  • For any and every place you plan to visit, locate their medical facilities so you know where to go if something were to happen — dental emergency or otherwise. Be sure to record the pertinent information so you have it readily available.
  • If you’re having any sort of pain or oral issues prior to leaving for your trip, schedule a thorough checkup before leaving. Also, mention your plans to your dentist to confirm he recommends travel while in your specific condition.
  • Always pack pain medicine and oral hygiene products so you can do as much as possible for your oral care yourself while out and about.
  • Be cognizant of your oral condition while traveling. Consider keeping from hard chewing that could potentially damage your teeth and/or gums (e.g., hard candies, ice, etc.).
  • If you’re going to play a sport, or you plan to become physically active while on vacation, bring a protective mouth guard to keep your teeth and gums safe.

Finding a Dentist While Traveling

Remember that you’re planning for something that hopefully won’t happen, so you don’t want to expend too much time and energy on this. But you do want to be thorough enough so you’re prepared if anything does happen.

Take 30 minutes to research a local dentist; then, send an email or give them a call. Even if they don’t offer services when you need them, they might be able to point you to someone who does. Worst case scenario, go to the emergency room.

No matter how things pan out while on your trip, if you do have an emergency and you receive emergency care, make it a priority to visit your home dentist as soon as you return. And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!

 

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Do You Need Your Wisdom Teeth? Should You Have Them Removed?

2023-03-17T14:50:55+00:00March 17th, 2023|Adam Brown DDS, General, Wisdom Teeth|

The third molars, commonly referred to as “wisdom teeth,” typically erupt in the mouth of individuals between the ages of 18 and 25. These teeth break through the gums when you mature into young adulthood — hence the term “wisdom” teeth. 

Though the name and nature of the teeth are rather straightforward, there are often questions surrounding their usefulness and permanence. For instance, why do some people have them pulled and others don’t? Let’s look at the purpose of wisdom teeth, when you can keep them, and when it’s best to have them removed. 

 

Should you get your wisdom teeth removed.

Why do we have wisdom teeth? Do we need them if they don’t show up until young adulthood? Due to changes in diet over the years, our jaws have evolved to a more compact size. Since we have begun refining our carbohydrates, among other things, a full set of molars simply isn’t needed like it used to be. 

We’re not crunching on grains all day long. So, with a smaller jaw comes the need for fewer teeth, which is why most people end up having their wisdom teeth removed. Not enough room at the inn for all the pearly whites! 

But does everyone need to have them removed? 

Keep Them or Lose Them?

Some people can keep their wisdom teeth, and some need to have them removed for oral health reasons. There are typically five criteria for deciding whether or not one should get rid of their wisdom teeth:

1. Jaw Size

Even though we’ve physically changed as a people over time — smaller jaws, walking upright, etc. — not all the evolutionary changes have happened evenly across humanity. Some of us have a larger jawbone, allowing more room for teeth to grow and spread out. When this is the case, the wisdom teeth don’t need to be removed (unless there are other underlying issues – more on this in a bit), and the person should never have any overcrowding issues. 

Those with smaller jaws would be the ones who need these teeth taken out. The best way to find out if your jaw can handle a few more molars is to come in and have a dentist give your mouth a look. Within a few minutes, he will be able to tell if you need tooth removal or not.

2. The Size of the Teeth

Sometimes, wisdom teeth come in a bit smaller with less of a root system. These underdeveloped molars cannot chew food as well as they should and may end up breaking and causing infection. When wisdom teeth break through and show to be smaller like this, it’s recommended to have them removed — even if there is enough space in the mouth for them.

3. Cleaning Capability

When looking over your wisdom teeth and determining if removing them is a good idea, one of the most significant factors is the capability — both in the moment and in the long term — that they can be adequately cleaned. By nature, wisdom teeth are a little more challenging to keep clean than others due to their precarious placement in the back of the mouth. If you can’t get floss and the head of a toothbrush between and around the wisdom teeth, plaque will accumulate, eventually leading to cavities and gum disease. 

4. More on Cavities

Some people naturally have a higher risk for cavities. Just like cholesterol or high blood pressure can be hereditary, so can elements of your oral health. As noted in number 3, it’s best to pull the wisdom teeth if there is a probability for cavities to be present. 

Even if you plan on thoroughly cleaning those back molars, because of their placement — and because you might have the propensity to have cavities — it is best practice to have them pulled. The last thing you want is for bacteria to build and fester in the mouth, as this can lead to all sorts of maladies, even deadly ones.

5. Risk of Gum Disease

The same goes for those of us who suffer from, or are likely to suffer from, gum disease. There are evil little bacteria that love to find hard-to-get-to hiding places inside our mouths to grow and spread gum disease. Since wisdom teeth are prime hiding spots, the risk of gum disease is another reason to consider removing your wisdom teeth. 

When to Remove Wisdom Teeth 

It’s tempting to wait until they become an issue, but waiting to have your wisdom teeth removed can be a bad idea seeing how any of the five outcomes above can lead to dangerously poor oral health. Don’t let yourself get to that point. If you know or have a good idea that your wisdom teeth will need removal, get it done sooner rather than later. 

A quick consultation with Dr. Brown will reveal:

  • Where in the growth process you are;
  • How much longer until they break through the gums;
  • And whether or not it would be best to have them pulled. 

When it comes to the timing of removal, think of it like this: The older you get, the more those teeth grow and expand. The teeth’s size and position are affected by the patient’s age. 

You also want to consider healing time after the surgery. The younger you are, the faster you will heal! It takes anywhere from six to nine years for teeth to grow, and they like to form from the top down — meaning they develop from the biting surface on down to the root of the tooth. 

By removing these teeth when the patient is young, the dentist can use a less intrusive removal method as the teeth are smaller and less rotted into the gums than fully-formed teeth. Less trauma to the jawbone and gums equals faster healing, which is what we are about!

Tips and Advice For Those Keeping Wisdom Teeth

After consulting with a dentist, if you discover you can keep your wisdom teeth, there are still a few things to keep in mind — a few specific problems to look out for. 

The most common issue for wisdom-teeth keepers is pericoronitis. This is a condition where the gums surrounding the wisdom teeth become inflamed, causing a “partial eruption.” Essentially, the wisdom tooth is being hampered from growing correctly because of gum swelling. This can even cause the wisdom teeth to twist or tip, which is not good and will end up requiring removal. 

When a tooth partially erupts, it also creates openings where plaque, bacteria, and food debris can all build up and create further health issues, not to mention sharp, intense pain. One way to combat this horrible experience is to rinse with salt water and/or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories regularly. These can help reduce the swelling and discomfort for a time, but a visit to the dentist is what can bring permanent relief. 

As always, your best option when considering your oral health is to visit us at Adam Brown, DDS. We can assess your jaw size and the area of the mouth where the wisdom teeth grow to let you know your best option!

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Teeth Bonding vs. Veneers: Which Is Right for You?

2023-02-24T17:44:04+00:00February 22nd, 2023|Adam Brown DDS, Dental Bonding, Veneers|

Cosmetic and restorative dentistry have seen great advancements in the last twenty years. In the past, if you had a troublesome tooth it had to be removed and you would have to learn to live with that gap in your smile (fingers crossed it was a tooth in the back of the mouth that had to be removed). Missing teeth can be unattractive for sure, but they can also negatively impact your eating habits because these missing teeth make the remaining teeth pick up the slack, which in effect can cause the healthy ones to wear down and need repair as well.

At Adam Brown DDS we repair or replace bad teeth to restore the mouth, and over the years we have gotten quite good at it. This process can involve multiple procedures, including using fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, bonding, dental implants, and even partial dentures.

The goal of restorative dentistry is to preserve natural teeth as much as possible and give you the smile you deserve. Which types of cosmetic/restorative dentistry do we encounter at Adam Brown? All sorts, but bonding and veneers are done on a regular basis, leading us to two important questions: What exactly are they, and which is better to have done?

Bonding or Veneers - Which one is better. Adam Brown DDS Monroe NC

The Benefits of Teeth Bonding

Of the plethora of cosmetic and restorative dental treatments, bonding is the one of the least invasive procedures. The act of bonding teeth does not require any tooth removal – a good thing! – as it is designed to correct minor imperfections on the face of the tooth or teeth.

Bonding is done by using a composite resin that evenly blends into the tooth so that it completely covers any stains present —­­ even chips, cracks, or uneven spacing between the teeth. As a final touch, the resin is perfectly matched to your tooth’s shade so there is no way of telling which tooth or teeth have been bonded from those that have not been.

Bonding is perfect for patients needing repair who also suffer from sensitive teeth. It’s likely that the bonding will help with the sensitivity since the resin used will cover any exposed nerves that tend to get triggered when eating or drinking things that are hot or cold. Plus, the bonding process itself is quick and easy, not to mention it’s virtually painless.

What’s more is that bonding can actually strengthen your teeth.

After all, it makes sense that adding a thin layer of durable resin would help protect anything it covers.

This durability will also keep the bonded tooth from chipping, staining, or moving again; you shouldn’t have to worry about follow-up procedures.

The Benefits of Veneers

Like bonding, the process of adding veneers is done to cover the front surface of the tooth to hide imperfections and to keep a healthier tooth. However, unlike the resin used in bonding, veneers are made up of a special porcelain that keeps the teeth aligned. This porcelain can be perfectly matched to the coloration of your other teeth, like bonding, so there is no way of telling which teeth are natural and which are veneered.

The porcelain used is incredibly durable, especially if taken care of properly, and it will not damage your non-veneered teeth. This is a big point of sale for both bonding and veneers, as braces and even removable spacers can pose the possibility of slightly damaging teeth that are not in need of repair.

One thing people tend to like about veneers is that the care for them is minimal. Regular checkups with the dentist and a healthy regimen of flossing and brushing should be all that needs to be done.

Which To Choose: Bonding or Veneers?

Your first consideration when judging between bonding or veneers is your budget. Right off the bat, you should know veneers are going to be more expensive than bonding because veneers are more durable (porcelain beats resin in this case), meaning you need to consider the price of longevity.

Will it actually save you money in the end if you end up having the bonding redone? The best way to find the most accurate answer to this controversy is to meet with your dentist and have a conversation. He can let you know how serious your particular situation is and help you determine the ideal option.

The next consideration between veneers and bonding is the current condition of your teeth. Bonding might be your best option if your teeth or tooth in need of care are rather healthy but need alignment or a chip hidden. On the other hand, the ultra-hard shell of a veneer would be a better choice if you are dealing with discoloration and decay. Think of it like this:

Bonding provides great coverage but may wear over time; veneers provide more of a protectant barrier and should last a lifetime.

Teeth Whitening

The best ways of whitening teeth are debatable, and there are always new devices or methods popping up. Take, for instance, the recent popularity of Smileactives, a whitening product that comes in a gel (with its own, special toothbrush and whitening pen). Created by Robert Montgomery, a biochemist and inventor, Smileactives touts an ability to work on all forms of teeth — whether veneered or bonded or not — to remove tough stains.

Does it work? A quick online search reveals primarily positive results, but the real question isn’t whether it works. It’s how harsh it is on your teeth.

For some of us, the chemicals used in whitening gels and toothpastes are too harsh and end up causing mouth pain. So what should you do if you have sensitive teeth?

Your first step is to come in and meet with Dr. Brown and his team. They can successfully assess your teeth and gums to forecast which method(s) might be best for you.

But, if you absolutely must start the whitening process immediately, follow these tips until you can come see us:

  1. Stay away from trays and gels if your teeth are indeed sensitive. The problem with this method is that it can take weeks for results to show. Plus, most people who use the tray and gels report having teeth sensitivity afterward.
  2. Use caution with whitening strips as well. Though results can show in about a week, this can cause irritation over time. Also, your teeth can become sensitive if you use the strips too often.
  3. When you have the time to wait, use paint-ons. The paint-on method solves the problem of the whitening agent interacting with interior soft tissues, such as the gums and inner cheek. You simply brush the whitening gel on each tooth and let it sit for a short period of time. The only downside to this method is it can take months before results can be seen, and you have to be diligent in getting the gel on each tooth daily.
  4. Whitening devices are your best option. Go ahead and do a little research and find an LED lighting kit to order — you can get them off Amazon!

When it comes to choosing between teeth bonding and veneers, it’s essential to consider the big picture. Bonding can be an excellent solution for minor cosmetic issues, while veneers may be more suitable for larger cosmetic changes and long-term durability. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, and your dentist should help you make the best choice based on your individual needs.

Both teeth bonding and veneers are care treatments that can help restore the look of your smile. Each has pros and cons, so remember to discuss these with Adam Brown DDS before making any decisions!

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Sugar Is the Root of the Problem!

2022-11-19T01:28:42+00:00November 19th, 2022|Adam Brown DDS, Oral Health, Preventative Dentistry|

For your teeth, sugar is the root of all evil. Humanity’s collective sweet tooth is doing us harm, and without proper care—and perhaps a reevaluation of our daily routines—we will continue to be plagued by the one thing we seem to love the most: sugar.

A fine set of pearly whites does a lot for a person: they restore confidence and connote a sense of hygienic care. There is evidence of our attention to dental care that reaches as far back as the Middle Ages where one used a paste of natural herbs and rubbed it on the teeth with a linen cloth. There is even evidence of herbal mouthwashes being used. Imagine the first person to ever deal with tooth decay: the pain and suffering, the not knowing what to do…Luckily, we know a lot more these days about the root of tooth decay.

There is plenty of evidence that paints a picture of humanity’s battle with the effects of sugar. Since its arrival, even when it was only used as a light seasoning ingredient, sugar has wreaked havoc on our teeth. And though there seems to be no cure for this particular crisis—one that only seems to be getting worse—maybe the answer to keeping sugar from killing our teeth can be found in how we use it. As the rate of sugar intake increases with the prevalence of sugary drinks and foods and sweets, maybe we need to rethink how we take care of our teeth.

Sugar and Tooth Decay

To better understand how to prevent tooth decay, it’s helpful to have a clear idea of what’s happening in your mouth when sugar is introduced. It’s not necessarily the sugar that’s to blame, rather it’s a combination of sugar and another ingredient that creates the danger.

Tooth decay begins when acid inside the mouth attacks the enamel and supporting structures of the teeth. Over time, if not properly addressed, holes and cavities appear and it keeps getting worse. Where does this noxious acid come from? Well, when the bacteria present in plaque interact with sugar, acid is produced. It’s that easy, and it doesn’t take long for this acid to dissolve your tooth bit by bit.

According to a study done by the World Health Organization in 2010, there is clear evidence of the relationship between sugar intake and tooth decay and the rate seems to increase as we age—do we take in more sugar as we get older? The scary thing is that it’s difficult to stay away from sugar. It seems to be in everything we eat and drink, and over years and years of sugars and bacteria combining, it makes sense our teeth are battered the older we get.

There are natural sugars, like those found in fruits, vegetables, and honey; these can do damage to the teeth; however, they are not as damaging as processed sugar. Foods high in white processed sugar, found in the likes of chips and cookies, are particularly rough on the teeth because the sugar leaves a sticky residue covering the teeth that is too tough to be rinsed away by saliva. The only way to remove this residue is to floss and brush. This is why these foods should be eaten occasionally, not every day and proper teeth cleaning should occur immediately after consuming them. So, the next time you enjoy your favorite processed snack, remember to brush afterward!

It’s not only in the food we eat. Drinking sweet drinks can be even harder on your teeth than foods can be because they often come with sugar and added acidity, both attacking your teeth. Sodas, in particular, are packed with processed sugar and acidity—the same with beer and alcoholic seltzer drinks.

Some sodas even have high fructose corn syrup added to them as a sweetening agent, which completely coats your mouth with a sticky, toxic film that breeds bacteria and acid. (Sounds like a scene from Stranger Things!)

Who Is at Risk?

We are all at risk of tooth decay, but children and adolescents—those grouped as most likely to consume larger amounts of sugar than others—are at most risk, as tooth decay and tooth loss are at the highest numbers among youngsters.

Plaque, a key ingredient in the acid that decays teeth, can begin to build as quickly as 20 minutes after we start eating (yes, “start eating,” not after we eat). The sugar in the food we are in the process of eating can begin to combine with this plaque and boom, you are eating food that is now eating your teeth. Clearly, the more sugar in the food you eat—not to mention the type of sugar—the more plaque and acid buildup inside the mouth.

Those who regularly consume alcohol and/or use tobacco, even vaping, are another group at high risk of serious tooth decay. Even coffee drinkers need to be careful. That little bit of creamer, that half a scoop of raw sugar can do some damage.

How To Combat Tooth Decay

Perhaps it’s not sugar that’s the issue, but rather our response to it. Sure, we can go “sugar-free” as often as possible, but the ubiquitous nature of the substance will cause it to always find its way into our foods and drinks. That said, the actions we take immediately after taking in sugar could be a remedy for tooth decay. Let’s be honest: eating or drinking sugar-laden treats will happen. So what then?

Here are some easy ways to keep that plaque and sugar from turning into acid:

Use a Straw

When drinking something you know has sugar in it, use a straw to keep as much liquid as possible from interacting with your teeth—this really works! Keep straws with you wherever you go, but keep away from the metal ones, as they tend to chip the teeth. Stick with paper or plastic straws. Do keep it in mind though that drinking from straws causes one to drink faster so slow it down a bit, especially if you are consuming an alcoholic beverage.

Have a Chaser

Remember, it only takes about 20 minutes for tooth decay to begin once you have begun eating, so you want to rinse as soon as possible. While eating, take sips of water between bites and swish it around a little—without being obnoxious. Once you finish eating, take a big gulp and try and use it to rinse. If you consume something containing processed sugar, a water chaser won’t be as effective. Consider using mouthwash (it’s a good idea to keep a small bottle handy) or, for best results, lightly brush your teeth.

Chew Gum

Chewing gum right after a meal can break free those little seeds or bits of food from your teeth. Most importantly, make sure you are only chewing sugarless gum, otherwise, you are actually doing more damage to those teeth. Note that it’s not a good idea to always be chewing gum. A few times a day, after meals is fine, and don’t chew for too long. Overdoing it can cause discomfort to sensitive teeth. Once the flavor is gone, that’s a good sign to dispose of the gum.

Visit Your Dentist Twice a Year

This is one of the most important things to do. One visit to the dentist every six months is the perfect way to gauge how well your teeth are doing. A dentist can tell you if your teeth are becoming too sensitive or stained and advise you on what to do. It’s also good because you get a professional cleaning where someone is meticulously searching your mouth for cavities, bits of food, or anything else.

Stop into Adam Brown, DDS or visit us online today to set up an appointment. We can help you get on track, no matter your current state of oral health.

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